Sanitized 'Pimp' Brings Rap Music to the Oscars

Whether or not "In the Deep" violated the rules should have no bearing on the song's chances. The voting deadline is over, and there's practically zero chance it could be excluded at this point.

The third nominee is Dolly Parton, a country-music mainstay famous for crossover hits that connect with mainstream America. Twenty-five years ago she was nominated for "9 to 5" and lost out to the theme from "Fame."

This year, she's nominated for "Travelin' Thru" from "Transamerica," the story of a man about to undergo a sex-change operation. When she first heard about the film, Parton recalled that she thought it was about a retired couple traveling across the country in an RV.

After she found out what the movie was about, she drew inspiration from people she'd met through the years. The result was an uplifting, pro-tolerance song that might bring Parton one of the coveted statuettes Sunday night.

High Score for Foreign Composers

In this year's Best Original Score category, it's perennial Oscar darling John Williams against the world. Williams, the only American-born nominee in the category this year, received two nominations. The contenders in this category are:

"Brokeback Mountain" -- Gustavo Santaolalla
"The Constant Gardener" -- Alberto Iglesias
"Memoirs of a Geisha" -- John Williams
"Munich" -- John Williams
"Pride & Prejudice" -- Dario Marianelli

Argentina-born Santaolalla's prolific scoring resume includes "Motorcycle Diaries," "21 Grams" and "Amores Perros." Additionally, he is one of the most successful Latin rock producers. He's worked with Juanes and Cafe Tacuba among others, and owns Surcor, a Latin indie music label. The flawless American West-sounding score highlighted by the pedal-steel guitar underlies his talent, and he could collect his first Oscar as part of the "Brokeback" sweep.

Iglesias, Spain's most sought-after composer, has scored the last five Pedro Almodovar films, and his work on "The Constant Gardener" featuring a well-placed cornucopia of world-music beats from East Africa helped galvanize director Fernando Meirelles' vision. Iglesias' talent will no doubt make him a Hollywood favorite in years to come.

Italian-born Marianelli is a virtual unknown in the United States, but his period-piece composition for "Pride & Prejudice" featuring French classical pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet does not disappoint. An Oscar win on Sunday may be premature, but Marianelli follows the footsteps of Italian greats like Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone, and will undoubtedly be nominated again in the future.

Williams should be recognized as one of the most lauded artists in Academy Awards history, with 43 nominations and five Oscars. The double nomination for "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Munich" is impressive, but he may be canceled out by competing against himself.

While "Geisha's" intense score featuring traditional Japanese instruments wowed critics and audiences, "Munich's" Middle-Eastern flavored score didn't create much of a buzz.

Though Williams' two nominations could split his votes, this category is his to lose. Let's hope his mantle is big enough for a sixth Oscar -- a problem anyone in showbiz would like to have.

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