Next gallery »Gotham Awards 2014: Scarlett Johansson and Jake Gyllenhaal rev up for awards season
« Previous gallery25 Greatest Oscar winning performances of all time
25. 'Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive' (from 'Here Come the Waves')
Songwriters: Music: Harold Arlen • Lyrics: Johnny Mercer
Who it Lost to: "It Might as Well Be Spring" (from "State Fair")
Why it's still great today: There's maybe a 99 percent chance that you've never even HEARD of "Here Comes the Waves" and closer to 99.9 percent chance that you've never seen it. And guess what? Please don't. Not only is it a bad movie, but the actual performance of "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" is done by Bing Crosby in blackface and it's REALLY offensive. But taken as a piece of music? Mercer & Arlen's standard is one of the greatest songs ever written about the power of properly emphasizing syllables and also optimism. As poorly as "Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive" was used in "Here Come the Waves," it has been splendidly used in countless TV shows and movies, including the Dr. John cover in "The Mighty Ducks," the Mercer original in "LA Confidential" and Clint Eastwood's growly version in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." It's timeless. In contrast, "It Might As Well Be Spring" is decent, middle-level Rogers & Hammerstein.
- Daniel Fienberg