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It was clear when the Oscars opened the show with one of the nominated original songs that the show was planning to do something special with music. They raised the ante when it was time to perform "How Far I'll Go" from Moana. It had been previously announced that songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda would be part of the performance, but it was far from clear how that would work for a song that was clearly a solo number. It turned out perfect, as Miranda wrote a new intro, to lead into Auli'i Cravalho's performance.
Auli'i Cravalho is a newcomer to Hollywood who made her silver screen debut as the voice of Moana. It was anybody's guess how the young woman would perform on an Oscar stage. Needless to say, she nailed it. She sang her heart out, as you can see and hear, thanks to The Hollywood Reporter, and the song came through as good as it did in the film itself. Cravalho looks like she's been performing like this for years. The flags floated across the stage like waves of the open ocean, it looked lovely. At the same time, Lin-Manuel Miranda is one of those pure talents that just makes everything he does look easy. His intro was great. He set the scene for anybody who was silly enough to not have already seen Moana in theaters. We're now wishing it was part of the film's official soundtrack.
To be fair, the performance wasn't entirely perfect. One of the flag carriers apparently briefly lost control of her flag and bumped the star with it. Auli'i Cravalho showed just how much of a pro she was. She didn't miss a note.
"How Far I'll Go" would be a shoe-in for Best Original Song, if not for the fact that the first full-fledged live-action musical in years, La La Land, came out in 2016. La La Land tied the Oscar record for nominations and, as a musical, it has a better than average chance to win any award related to music. This writer certainly wouldn't mind seeing Moana upset the favorite.
Both songs from La La Land have yet to be performed on the Oscar stage. Based on the performances we've seen so far there's a good chance we're in for a treat when the other nominees have a chance to give their performances. It's wonderful to see the original songs given a real chance to shine for the first time in several years.
Which is your pick for Best Original Song? Let us know in the comments.