“Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre (2015): Daniel Craig starred as Bond (James Bond) in this film directed by Sam Mendes. This was the second Bond film to spawn a best original song winner. The first, Skyfall, did better in the Oscar nominations, with five nods. Music and lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith.
“Man or Muppet” from The Muppets (2011): Jason Segel and Amy Adams starred in the musical comedy, which Segel co-wrote. Segel and Jim Parsons introduced the song in the film with the help of Muppet Walter and Muppet Gary. Music and lyric by Bret McKenzie.
“Falling Slowly” from Once (2007): Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová both starred in the film and teamed to write the music and lyrics to this ballad. Their real-life romantic relationship began during the making of the film (and ended in 2009). The Broadway show based on Once fared better with Tony voters than the film did with the Oscar crowd: The show received 11 Tony nominations and won eight awards.
“Lose Yourself” from 8 Mile (2002): Eminem and Kim Basinger starred in this semi-autobiographical drama. Eminem wrote the lyrics to this motivational classic and co-wrote the music with Jeff Bass and Luis Resto. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 12 consecutive weeks, becoming Eminem’s biggest hit to date.
“You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan (1999): This animated adventure film was released two years before the Oscars added a category for best animated feature (which would have all but assured it another nomination). Phil Collins and Glenn Close introduced the song. Music and lyric by Collins.
“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing (1987): Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey starred in this coming-of-age story that became a box-office smash, with music by Franke Previte, John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz, and lyrics by Previte. Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ sleek single, heard in the film’s finale, topped the Hot 100 and won a Grammy for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal.
“I Just Called To Say I Love You” from The Woman in Red (1984): Gene Wilder wrote, directed and starred in this rom-com, which also starred Gilda Radner. The two actors were married a month after the film’s release. Stevie Wonder wrote the music and lyrics, and introduced the song in the film. His warm, decidedly old-fashioned single topped the Hot 100 for three weeks.
“Last Dance” from Thank God It’s Friday (1978): Jeff Goldblum and Debra Winger starred in this disco-themed comedy, a true artifact of its era. In the film, Donna Summer performed “Last Dance,” which may be her best and most warmly remembered recording. Music and lyrics by Paul Jabara.
“You Light Up My Life” from You Light Up My Life (1977): Joseph Brooks wrote, directed and produced this romantic drama, which starred Didi Conn. He also wrote, arranged and produced all of the songs on the soundtrack. In the film, Conn lip-syncs “You Light Up My Life” to Kasey Cisyk’s vocals. Cisyk’s single cracked the Hot 100 but was eclipsed by Debby Boone’s earnest cover version, which ruled the chart for a then-record 10 weeks.
“The Shadow of Your Smile” from The Sandpiper (1965): Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor starred in this drama, which they filmed soon after their headline-grabbing marriage in March 1964. The film, directed by Vincente Minnelli, was released the following year. A vocal chorus performs the song in the film. Music by Johnny Mandel; Lyrics by Paul Francis Webster.
“Call Me Irresponsible” from Papa’s Delicate Condition (1963): Jackie Gleason, the star of the classic TV series The Honeymooners, starred in this comedy and introduced this song. The song was covered that year by such artists as Frank Sinatra and Jack Jones. Music by James Van Heusen; Lyrics by Sammy Cahn.
“High Hopes” from A Hole in the Head (1959): Sinatra starred in this comedy, which was produced and directed by the legendary Frank Capra. Sinatra and 12-year old Eddie Hodges sang the song in the film. Sinatra recorded a special version of the song which the Kennedy campaign used as its (winning) theme song in 1960. Music by Van Heusen; Lyrics by Cahn.
“All the Way” from The Joker Is Wild (1957): Sinatra also starred in this musical drama, alongside Mitzi Gaynor. The film was a biopic of Joe E. Lewis, a nightclub star from the ‘20s to the early ‘50s. Sinatra sang the song in the film; his version of the tender ballad became a smash. Music by Van Heusen; Lyrics by Cahn.
“Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)” from The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956): James Stewart and Doris Day starred in this suspense thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock, with music and lyrics by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Day sang the song in the film — and it became a major plot point. The tune became one of her biggest hits and was the second best song winner in four years, following “Secret Love,” that she had introduced in one of her movies.
“Mona Lisa” from Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950): Alan Ladd starred in this crime film noir, which gave us one of Nat King Cole’s biggest (and classiest) hits. An uncredited troubadour sang the song in the film. Music and lyrics by Evans and Livingston.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from Neptune’s Daughter (1949): Esther Williams and future TV great Red Skelton starred in the MGM musical rom-com. Williams sang the song in the film with Ricardo Montalbán, one of the first Latin performers to become a mainstream star. The classic duet is one of the most covered holiday songs in history, though it has become controversial in the #MeToo era. Music and lyrics by Frank Loesser.
“Buttons and Bows” from The Paleface (1948): Bob Hope and Jane Russell starred in this comedy Western. The breezy tune became the biggest hit by future TV mainstay Dinah Shore. Hope sang it in the film—the first of two best original song winners he introduced. Music and lyrics by Livingston and Evans.
“The Last Time I Saw Paris” from Lady Be Good (1941): Eleanor Powell and future TV stars Ann Sothern and Robert Young starred in this MGM musical film. The film was released in September 1941, 15 months after the Nazis occupied Paris (hence the song’s tone of regret). Sothern, who had her own sitcom in the ‘50s and was a frequent guest on The Lucy Show, sang the song in the film. Music by Jerome Kern; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II.
“Thanks for the Memory” from The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938): Comedy legends W.C. Fields and Hope starred in this musical comedy. Hope performed the song (with music by Ralph Rainger and lyrics by Leo Robin) with co-star Shirley Ross. “Thanks for the Memory” went on to become Hope’s theme song for the next six decades, though the auto-pilot parody versions that he sang at the end of his variety specials don’t match the surprisingly nuanced original.