U2 enters the race for Best Original Song with ‘Winter’ from Jim Sheridan’s ‘Brothers’

Posted by · 11:04 am · November 18th, 2009

U2Last week when canvassing the various FYC sites that are hitting the web as of late, I misspoke (er, mistyped) when I disregarded the eligibility of a certain original song contender in this year’s race.  Allow me to explain.

U2’s “Winter” did indeed show up on Anton Corbijn’s “Linear,” a short film that accompanied the album “No Line on the Horizon” (which the band is touring vigorously across the US right now).  But I’m told the song was, in fact, written specifically for Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers” and that it will indeed be eligible for consideration in the Best Original Song category.

The film has been completed for quite some time, mind you.  It took a while for it to secure distribution (though I have no idea why — it’s a fine film).  MGM picked it up maybe a year ago, and over the summer, Lionsgate bought the film in a three-picture distribution deal.  So just because “No Line on the Horizon” has been in stores for a number of months doesn’t mean “Winter” (which isn’t an official track inclusion on the album, by the way) wasn’t conceived far in advance of its release.

Sheridan and U2 go way back, of course.  WAY back.  They first met in the 1970s, when the director ran Dublin’s alternative club the Project Art Center and bands like U2 were playing their first live gigs.  The original tune “Time Enough for Tears” was included in Sheridan’s 2003 film “In America,” but it unfortunately didn’t make the Oscar cut.

“Winter” could be a different story.  And the lyrics certainly make it clear the song was conceived for the story of a man changed by a war (see below).

As for the film itself, well, I wasn’t as impressed as Pete Hammond was, but I do think it fits nicely in what has become a great trio of Middle East war films this year.  I was less enthusiastic about Tobey Maguire’s performance than I was by Jake Gyllenhaal’s more natural portrayal.  In fact, it seems that every time I see Gyllenhaal in something, I’m reminded of how underrated he is as an actor.

The real story of the film, however, is the casting of Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare, two absolutely amazing young girls who knock it out of the park.  Much credit is due to Sheridan, of course, who has shown in the past his ability to get great performances out of children.  But these two ladies have talent to spare.  It was a really nice surprise.

I’ll get into “Brothers” more throughout the season, I’m sure.  For now, take a look at the lyrics to “Winter” below.  We’ll feature the song soon enough as we’ve been doing the other contenders in the category.

The yellow sun
Well it took the hand
Of a country boy
To a city in a far off land

We made no mark
No shadow at all
On the ancient holy streets
Where I learned to crawl

Looking at the bruised
The young and the used
The sure and confused all here

Words will land on me
Then abandon me
Mangle, untangle me
Leave me on the floor

Rhymes they sprang in me
Summer sang in me
But summer sings in me no more

Now I’m 25
and trying to stay alive
In a corner of the world
With no clear enemies to fight

It’s hot as hell
We’re like butter on toast
But there’s no army in this world
Can fight a ghost

Looking at the bruised
The young and the used
The sure and confused all here

Words will land on me
Then abandon me
Leave me stranded
And knocking on the door

Rhymes began in me
Summer sang in me
But summer sings in me no more

At 21
I was born a son
And on that day I knew
I could kill

To protect the ones
Who put bullets in guns
Or anything it takes
To take a life until it’s still

→ 14 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

14 responses so far

  • 1 11-18-2009 at 11:14 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Is the song a credits track, or is it featured in the film? If the latter, this could be our winner. I’m sure the Academy would love to reward Bono at some point.

  • 2 11-18-2009 at 11:29 am

    frankieleo said...

    how was natalie portman in it?

  • 3 11-18-2009 at 11:57 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Credits, so it’s dicey. I’ll talk more about that when I feature the song, I suppose.

  • 4 11-18-2009 at 12:08 pm

    Lazarus said...

    What’s interesting is that whether or not this song was even really “finished” is up for debate. Brian Eno seemed to suggest that the band abandoned it at some point (against his wishes) to work on wannabe hit singles for the most recent album, and it was only left on Linear because Corbijn was given an early track listing when he began making the film, and the band didn’t want to compromise his project.

    If Winter manages to seriously compete in this category, will it pressure U2 to include it on their next album, which Bono has implied might actually be out before their tour starts next summer?

    In the end, while the song is far from perfect (the strings at the beginning sound disturbingly like those on Coldplay’s Viva La Vida, which Eno also produced), I’d rather see them win an award for this over the tepid Hands That Built America.

  • 5 11-18-2009 at 12:29 pm

    david said...

    As much as I care for most of Jim Sheridan’s work, and U2, I can’t imagine this remake could be better then Susanne Bier’s original.

  • 6 11-18-2009 at 1:08 pm

    BerkeleyGirl said...

    I’ve long loved Sheridan’s work. “In America,” for all the plaudits, never got its full due. Besides, I work with one of his cousins and know he’s a very regular guy.

  • 7 11-18-2009 at 1:48 pm

    Andrew L. said...

    This year’s Best Original Song is turning into the Grammy’s Record of the Year.

  • 8 11-18-2009 at 2:06 pm

    Chris138 said...

    I’m curious to see this film, although I’ve never seen the original.

    I knew the song at very end of the trailer sounded like one of U2’s.

  • 9 11-18-2009 at 4:34 pm

    Alex said...

    Hopefully Brothers will be on par with Get Rich or Die Trying.

  • 10 11-18-2009 at 6:00 pm

    Puchika said...

    LOL so true Alex
    @ David; totally agree

    Loved U2’s song for “Gangs of NY”–definately thought they deserved it for that (did Eminem win that year?)
    BUT if the song is at the end credits, how could they academy nominate it if they used this same rationale to axe Springsteen’s “Wrestler” from consideration?

  • 11 11-18-2009 at 6:38 pm

    Glenn said...

    Songs like this – from dramas with no other nominations – never get in though. Unless the song is used in a way that is integral to the film (as in “August Rush”). The only way I see the song getting in is if the film hits big, which is unlikely at this point.

  • 12 11-19-2009 at 2:58 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Puchika: Just to be clear, Springsteen’s song was eligible and considered — they just didn’t nominate it. And they never actually offered a rationale — we’re just assuming (probably quite safely) that the end-credits placement was the problem.

  • 13 11-23-2009 at 1:25 pm

    Andy said...

    Great song by U2.
    Just being nit-picky, but the lyrics actually go “The broken and the bruised…” not “Looking at the bruised”.
    Hope they win this time around. Got robbed back in 2003.

  • 14 12-12-2009 at 6:34 pm

    ophelia said...

    I’ve seen both the “Brodres” and now this and they’re both great films individually. I hope it wins an Oscar or 2, it’s very well deserved.