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This year’s race for the best original song Oscar is getting way more attention than usual - in part for who’s in the race and, in part, for who isn’t.

There are only three nominees out of 49 eligible songs this year - “Down to Earth” from “Wall-E,” and “Jai Ho” and “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” - because of the music Oscar’s weird ranking system that only nominates songs that scored higher than 8.25 out of 10 with its members. Bruce Springsteen’s “The Wrestler,” which just won the Golden Globe for best song, didn’t make the cut.

cover art

Slumdog Millionaire

Director: Danny Boyle, Loveleen Tandan
Cast: Dev Patel, Freida Pinto, Madhur Mittal, Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan

(Fox Searchlight; US theatrical: 12 Nov 2008 (Limited release); UK theatrical: 9 Jan 2009 (General release); 2008)

Review [12.Nov.2008]

Now Peter Gabriel’s “Down to Earth,” which plays over the “Wall-E” credits is nice enough, but the original songs of A.R. Rahman really are a major part of “Slumdog Millionaire.” The same goes for British rapper M.I.A.‘s “Paper Planes,” which is so dominant in one “Slumdog” segment that it not only looks like the film was edited to fit the song, but that it was shot with that song in mind.

Of course, “Paper Planes,” which is up for a Grammy for record of the year, isn’t eligible because it wasn’t written specifically for the movie. But hopefully Oscar voters will keep that in mind when they make their picks and give “O Saya,” which was co-written by M.I.A. and Rahman, the nod.

M.I.A.‘s success story - a Sri Lankan native, the daughter of a Tamil revolutionary, forced to flee her homeland for London by civil war - is similar to what many find appealing in “Slumdog Millionaire.” An Oscar (and hopefully a Grammy) would be grand new chapters for her.

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