The Oscars 2014

Xtra Mile Soundtracks to Best Film nominees

- 02.03.14 -

It's that time of the year where over-pampered actors make tear-stained speeches that make little sense, journalists suddenly become concerned with dresses and hair, and someone always comes a cropper of US politics with a jibe against the administration or saying war is bad. Also, something about films.

We here at Xtra Mile also like films. Yep, we don't just listen to music all day every day. Sometimes we like to give our eyes a vacation from spinning vinyl. We get dizzy. But our ears are still important away from records too and there are some classic film scenes from previous Academy Award nominees for Best Picture that we feel could've been improved with some of our bands, and probably would've won them the gold statue, rather than being also-rans. I mean, who remembers any of these films? *rolls eyes* (we've also included one winner, that hardly anyone knows for some reason).

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Despite this being everyone in the world's favourite film, the Oscar judges – in their infinite, and clearly superior, wisdom – decided Forrest Gump was better, probably because they thought everyone loves Tom Hanks, and no one (at the time) knew who the hell was in that jail film. Who is Morgan Freeman for flip's sake? Perhaps they would've liked it more if Tim Robbins, when he decided to commandeer the public address system to play some motivating, inspiring music, played this:

Those awe-struck cons, stood there unbelieving at the torrent of fury - which they now realise they had been internalising while trapped between four concrete walls – then stage a mutiny against the corrupt and abusive system in Shawshank Prison. It would've come out a very different film, and probably would've won Best Picture. Also, the line “I have no idea to this day what that angry white dude was singing about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I'd like to think he was singing about something so beautiful, it can't be expressed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it,” could've been etched into movie history. For the better.

Goodfellas (1990)

Here's another film that has more than stood the test of time. Compare that to the 1990 chosen (as opposed to actual) Best Picture, Dancing With Wolves (starring Kevin know, Robin Hood) which is even longer (four hours!) than this gangster epic. We challenge you to stay awake during that one. Why not just watch this twice instead actually? It has the burglar from Home Alone being a right dick in it after all.

But whose idea was it to have Eric Clapton anywhere near the soundtrack? Sure, that classic passage of Badge by Cream, all circular piano and delicate lead guitar, is an evocative piece that seems to relish, and enhance, scenes of brutal bloodshed. But c'mon. Clapton? He's awful.

We think this would work better:

The fuzz riff, the claustrophobic feel of the discordance, the single string chorus melody piercing through the speakers – atmospheric as anything right? Especially if you imagine listening while Joe Pesci kicks the jam out of a made man. Also, “we dragged the river / where were you?” is a ridiculously appropriate lyric for a gangster flick with a high body count. And we happen to know Chris T-T is a very nice man. Not like that arse Clapton.

No Country For Old Men (Winner - 2007) / Fargo (1996) (or pretty much any Coen brothers film)

There is not a film on the planet that wouldn't be improved with a bit of Franz Nicolay. And I'd say we could squeeze a fair few Xtra Mile crew into almost any of the Coen brothers' films. Seen (the overlooked) Inside Llweyn Davis? Well, *SPOILER!* if Davis had played...I dunno...Frank Turner's 'Plain Sailing Weather' to that record producer, he could've broken his heart and changed the entire story arc of the film. But Franz? He could banjo his way across Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, croon eerily across Fargo, and definitely mumble menacingly throughout No Country For Old Men.

You could easily throw this at the end of this Best Picture winner and it would suit it. "Never trust a man with a horror story," indeed.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

It's 1994 and yet another amazing film gets overlooked. Actually, looking at the list, 1994 was a lineup of universally good films for Best Picture, which is mostly unheard of (a bit like "odd-one-out" nominee, Quiz Show, but that's a good film too). Instead, the winner was that Tom Hank's film which compares life to chocolate: addictive, and disappointing if you choose the wrong one. Or something like that. It's been a while since I saw it parodied.

So, Pulp Fiction doesn't need any introduction, hype, or critical analysis – it just IS. The modern film landscape would look skewed and barren and less fun without Quentin Tarantino and his breakthrough film. And the soundtrack is almost flawless. But I reckon we can make some improvements. For example, John Travolta hamming it up with Uma Thurman's dodge dancing skills at Jack Rabbit Slim's is a memorable celluloid moment. But I really wish we could see them stepping out to this:

Travolta might've splintered his legs trying to keep up with the galloping pace, but I guarantee it would have been entertaining to watch, as well as better on the ears.

2014 nominees for Best Picture

So what about this year's nominees? I haven't had time to see every one of these films, but I did watch every single trailer (which is almost all you need these days), and I believe that these highly paid experts putting music to imagery to sell these high-standard products of the film industry aren't good enough. They should've used these Xtra Mile replacements instead.

DISCLAIMER: I know I've missed out forerunners 12 Years A Slave and Gravity, but they're likely winners (you'll probably know if they've won by the time you read this) and the biggest successes and we'd rather concentrate on those more like ourselves: slight outsiders (also they were really hard!).

Captain Phillips

- Dive Dive 'The Alarm' (from 2010's 'Potential') -

Sure, 3/4 of Frank Turner's backing band The Sleeping Souls (who comprise 3/4 of Oxford's excellent Dive Dive - aren't fractions wonderful?) in vibrant and punchy form doesn't quite lend to the drama of the trailer, but the lyrics may as well be narrating the storyline at times with all this talk of "insurgents", "leaders when you oust them" and, of course, "sound the alarm".

Dallas Buyers Club

- Cheap Girls 'Pure Hate' (from 2014's 'Famous Graves') -

Like a less lazy-sounding J Mascis, Cheap Girls' best track kinda sits well alongside the chosen backing to this tale of medical drug smuggling. The album 'Famous Graves' will be released by Xtra Mile Recordings on 12 May. Listen to 'Knock Me Over' from that record below the trailer. See if that one works with the trailer, for a laugh. 


- The Xcerts 'Crisis In the Slow Lane' (from 2009's 'In the Cold Wind, We Smile') -

Want heartbreak and modernity in one? Always go for The Xcerts. Karen O may be amazing on the real OST, but The Xcerts could easily engage your synapses with this bizarre tale of a lonely man falling for his operating system. Yep. I know. Apparently it's really good too. What will those crazy Hollywood types think of next?


- Crazy Arm 'Remembrance' (from 2013's 'The Southern Wild' / Xtra Mile Singles Sessions Vol. 7) -

Unless we signed Springsteen and forced his top three best record onto the entire soundtrack of this film just because of its name, Crazy Arm's contribution to last year's 10th Anniversary Singles Sessions works the best with the black and white texture and tone of this funny and touching underdog nominee.


- To Kill A King 'Rays' (from 2013's 'Cannibals with Cutlery'/Xtra Mile Singles Sessions 5) -

With a right British sense of humour, what better to accompany Judi Dench and Alan Partridge with a drolly comic and sensitive story of adoption than To Kill A King's equally diverse and excellent songwriting?

The Wolf of Wall Street

- Against Me! 'Drinking With The Jocks' (from 2014's 'Transgender Dysphoria Blues') -

I mean, as soon as we see DiCaprio and co thrashing about in the throes of excess, the title of this song springs to mind. That it pounds at a fierce pace and sneers at obnoxious, ignorant behaviour makes the trailer less glorification of financially-driven abandon and more an indictment of such behaviour. Which is probably what Scorsese was trying to do really, right?

If you made it this far, well done, you should be able to get through the average winner's speech too, and perhaps even Ellen's cheesier one-liners.

For a bit of fun, why not tell everybody your preferred Xtra Mile movie soundtrack. I mean, who wouldn't want to hear Beans On Toast do a gravel-voiced score for something on the big screen, for example? How many films could Frank Turner NOT soundtrack? Could we find a legitimate scene where Jamie Lenman's heavy side could be unleashed? Discuss! Tell us! C'mon! It's better than waiting to see who wins best Visual Effects (it's Gravity everybody).


- Brad Barrett -