Do you remember the song "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins? It was from Tarzan and it won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1999 (beating out Aimee Mann's "Save Me" from Magnolia for Christ's sake). Anyway, do you remember that "Tarzan" song over, say, The Who's "A Quick One While He's Away" from Wes Anderson's Rushmore the year before? That Phil Collins song was a hit, I know, but I'm going to say at this point, you, cinema lover, might not remember that tune. Phil Collins probably doesn't even remember "You'll Be In My Heart" over The Who. Or The Creation. Or The Faces. Or Cat Stevens. Or The Rolling Stones. Or the entire Rushmore soundtrack.
My point? Why not an Oscar category for Best Soundtrack? Or, rather, the best use of pre-existing music?
Though obviously Best Original Song should remain, and there's plenty of now iconic Best Originals, like "The Way You Look Tonight" (from Swing Time, 1936) or "Over the Rainbow" (from The Wizard of Oz, 1939), often the Best Original Song is NOT the song we remember. Why did Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" show up on an ad for a cruise line? (They better have good drugs on that cruise.)
The ability to create a meaningful, visceral, powerfully edited soundtrack (and working with songs so damn perfectly and often songs not usually heard in movies, like the not one, but two songs by the band Love in Bottle Rocket, or Dignan running from the cops, tuned perfectly to The Stones' "2000 Man") is a specific talent that, thanks to Music Supervisors and the editors and directors who work with them (*note: a good question a commenter raised is, based on the collaborative nature of the process, who would win the award?) has created moments in movies so iconic, that we often can't imagine the song without the scene.
I can't even listen to "Born to Be Wild" unless I'm watching Easy Rider (as much as I love Steppenwolf), and The Byrds' "Wasn't Born to Follow" remains one of my favorite moments in that picture. And then there's the opening credits of Mean Streets scored to The Ronettes' "Be My Baby," the Stealers Wheel "Stuck in the Middle With You" ear severing in Reservoir Dogs, Margot Tennenbaum walking off the Green Line bus to Nico's "These Days," Billy Batts meeting his demise to Donovan's "Atlantis," and more and more and more.
From American Graffiti to Casino to Dazed and Confused to Crooklyn to Boogie Nights to 2001 to Dead Presidents to Pulp Fiction to Velvet Goldmine to Over the Edge (Cheap fucking Trick) to Trainspotting to Candy to Harold and Maude (even as some of the songs were written for the movie, other were on Stevens' "Mona Bone Jakon" and "Tea for the Tillerman") to Floyd Mutrux's Dusty and Sweets McGee to every freaking Wes Anderson movie (this year's Moonrise Kingdom gives us Françoise Hardy, Hank Willams and Benjamin Britten) -- I don't even know why I'm listing them. You know these movies. And their songs.
There should be an award. If this category existed, we might have be allowed the pleasure of watching Rodriguez sing one of his beautiful, soul wrenching songs tonight, from the Oscar-nominated documentary Searching For Sugarman.
Musical supervisors deserve some Oscars, Martin Scorsese deserves a lifetime achievement award for the Goodfellas helicopter sequence alone and The Coen Brothers should win some kind of trophy for making us remember how cool Kenny Rogers used to be via Lebowski's dream scored to "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)." Think about it Oscar. And listen.
From my Criticwire Survery answer to: What new category should the Academy add to the Oscars?