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Country & Oscar: Together Again

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Nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards were announced Tuesday morning, and the song “Coming Home” from Country Strong was among the four nominees for Best Original Song. This recognition continues the on-again-off-again relationship country music and Oscar have had for some 30 years.

Yes, you could point out 1977’s Best Song winner “You Light Up My Life” from the movie of the same name. And while it was a #4 country hit it was better known as a huge, huge #1 pop hit for Debby Boone. No, I’d say 1980 was THE breakthrough year for country music and the cinema. It was nearly 30 years ago that Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5″ and Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” (from Honeysuckle Rose) were chosen as two of the five nominees in 1981’s Best Original Song category–a first for country music. They both lost to “Fame,” but the boom was on. Ironically, the biggest soundtrack of that year–Urban Cowboy–yielded multiple #1 country hits that became pop hits but no Oscar nominations. 1981 was also the year that Sissy Spacek won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Loretta Lynn in Coal Miner’s Daughter.  Since then, Jessica Lange has been nominated for playing Patsy Cline and Joaquin Phoenix for portraying Johnny Cash. We’ve had Robert Duvall and Jeff Bridges win for playing fictional country singers (Mac Sledge and “Bad” Blake, respectively). And we’ve seen Reese Witherspoon win for playing a real one (June Carter Cash). Plus, artists like Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, and Trisha Yearwood have performed at various ceremonies. This year, country superstar Keith Urban will have a really good seat as his wife, Nicole Kidman, is nominated for Best Actress for her role as a grieving mother in Rabbit Hole. On February 27th in Los Angeles, country music and Oscar will reunite. Again.

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