Christina Aguilera just can't get a break: She had a lyric malfunction at the Super Bowl. She finalized her divorce on Valentine's Day. And sorry to break it to her, but her film Burlesque won't win an Oscar at the Academy Awards. Burlesque won the Golden Globe for Best Song, and still couldn't get a nomination in that category at the Oscars. This despite the fact that it was notably nominated for a Golden Globe as a Best Picture for Comedy/Musical. Why no such love with the newly expanded 10 Best Picture nominees at the Academy Awards (aimed to compete with the Globes' 10 best pix)?
Of course, most would say it's because Burlesque was a lousy movie. Sure, Burlesque got a rough 37% on the Rotten Tomatoes meter. But take a look at films that previously scored Best Song nominations: August Rush (36%), Nine (37%), and even this year's Country Strong scored about half of Burlesque with an embarrassing 19%. Ouch!
Given that context, you'd think that if nothing else Burlesque would be a contender (if not a shoo-in nomination) for this year's Oscar for Best Original Musical. What? You've never heard of such a category? Turns out it's been in the rule book of the Academy (look under Rule 16) for about the last decade, but it's just never been activated as a category. In general, there have to be at least 9 eligible films in the category before the Academy would even consider activating it, and specifically the rules now state:
The category of Original Musical may be activated only by special request of the Music Branch Executive Committee to the Board of Governors in a year when the field of eligible submissions is determined to be of sufficient quantity and quality to justify award competition.
Even if there were nine really good musicals in one year, sadly for Ms. Aguilera, her film wouldn't have qualified. Even though she co-wrote several of the songs herself, the rules clearly state that at least five of the songs have to have the same songwriting team. With its talented melange of 28 songwriters, the soundtrack wouldn't have passed muster.
And why do I know so much about this category? Because until I showed up in 2004 with two out of the five eligible films, the rules were a bit different. Here's a short documentary that explains what happened, and why ultimately there's pretty much no chance in hell the category will ever be reactivated. Don't worry, Christina -- you're in good company! (And since you're not doing anything Oscar night -- how 'bout coming to sing at our Oscar party?)
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