The Academy Award nominations for Best Original Score and Best Original Song are always random and unpredictable. Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised, like when Prince won for 1984’s "Purple Rain" or when Eminem took top honors for "Lose Yourself" in 2003. But with the exception of Slumdog Millionaire, which picked up nods in both categories, this year’s nominees left me cold. It’s too bad there isn’t an Oscar category for Best Soundtrack because there were some good ones in 2008. Herewith, my top four faves, plus one that I hated.
1. The Wackness
Packed with early-’90s hip-hop classics by everyone from Nas and A Tribe Called Quest to Biggie and Craig Mack, The Wackness is a superb throwback compilation.
2. Cadillac Records
Though Beyonce’s no Etta James, she and costars Jeffrey Wright, Columbus Short, and Mos Def deserve major props for paying homage to Chess Records’ legendary roster of blues, R&B, and early rock and roll pioneers.
3. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Says my colleague Leah Greenblatt: "Nick & Norah is like a fun little indie-schmindie starter kit, very up and accessible and melodic, with young cute bands like Band of Horses, Vampire Weekend, and the Submarines, plus a few golden oldsters like Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh."
4. Rachel Getting Married
Once again, I defer to Leah: "Rachel Getting Married is very adult-alternative eclectic, with lots of jazz and African influences, a fun avant-freakout version of "Here Comes the Bride," and a stunner a cappella cover of Neil Young’s "Unknown Legend" by TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe."
5. Sex and the City
What could’ve been one of the year’s finest soundtracks turned out to be a scattered and incohesive mess, featuring everyone from Fergie and Jennifer Hudson to Nina Simone and Run-DMC.