One of our very favorite writers, Michael Musto, has made a very welcome return to Village Voice, where he contributed an unmissable column for 29 years, to offer his insightful predictions for this Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. Rather than trot out all the usual predictions for who will or should win, he zeros in on what we all really want to know: all the scandals that are brewing behind the scenes. Musto offers his singular analysis of the brouhaha over the lack of non-Caucasian actors among the nominees, Michael Moore’s spot-on takedown of Spotlight and Leo DiCaprio’s torturous path to victory (Musto writes of his performance in The Revenant “it’s the gruntiest Oscar performance since Patty Duke’s in The Miracle Worker”).
Then there’s this gem regarding best song that caught our attention:
I’m “gonna fly now” to a Best Song controversy that started when songwriter Linda Perry (whose tune from the other lesbian film, Freeheld, didn’t get nominated) stirred up some fascinating shit. On January 18, Perry tweeted about a song that did get a nod — “Til It Happens to You,” from The Hunting Ground, the documentary about rape on college campuses. She said that she’d heard the song — credited as co-written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga — before Gaga was aboard, and that it’s the same exact piece of material that’s now nominated, except for one little line! In other words, said Perry, co-writer Gaga could only have contributed a few words, at most! Responded Warren, “The song is the result of a special collaboration between myself and Lady Gaga. As Lady Gaga and I have said, ‘Til It Happens to You’ was inspired by the countless survivors of abuse who need our support and love so they know they’re not alone.” How’s that for a vague reply? In any case, Perry graciously backed down, no doubt feeling that women-on-women verbal violence would not be advisable when you’re dealing with a rape film. And the song will surely win, with Gaga saying more than one line at the podium. This is fine with me — the fact that Gaga will from now on be identified as “the Oscar-winning singer/actress” will drive Madonna crazy.
It could really happen. Poor Madge is already going through a challenging year while carrying on with her exhausting Rebel Heart tour. If Gaga gets a golden boy, it might just send the Queen of Pop who has never really transitioned to big screen superstardom over the edge. Perhaps she’ll finally realize how suitable she is to portray Norma Desmond in the long-gestating Sunset Boulevard musical.
Read the rest of Michael’s forecast here.