The magic of the movies depends on sound as much as sight, and ever since the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences established the Best Song category for the seventh annual Academy Awards in 1933, the Oscars have honored the finest show tunes, pop tunes and rock-to-rap bangers ever to grace the screen. Or at least, they’ve tried to. As with any other category, the gold has gone to stone classics and stinkers alike; more often than not, the winners tell us as much (or more) about the values of the era as the value of the songs themselves.
We’ve already delved into the 20 greatest Best Song performances at the Oscars, paying lip service to nominees ranging from “Endless Love” to “Everything Is Awesome!” But what about the songs themselves? Which of the winners rank head and shoulders above the rest? And which ones feel like a painful punch in the gut every time you hear them? For your listening pleasure (half the time, anyway), we’ve cued up the 10 best and the 10 worst Best Song winners of all time. Are they all worth listening to if you want to understand the Oscars? As one winner put it, you’re daaaaaaamn right.