The Oscar producers promised it would be “a very special performance,” and they and Barbra Streisand delivered.
The iconic singer-actress-producer-director returned to the Academy Awards stage to perform for the first time at the event since 1977 — when “Evergreen,” which she co-wrote with Paul Williams for “A Star Is Born,” won best song — to recall the late composer Marvin Hamlisch at the conclusion of the 85th edition’s “In Memoriam” tribute Sunday (Feb. 24).
Fittingly, Streisand sang “The Way We Were,” the title song from her 1973 movie that gave her one of her biggest hits. Hamlisch composed the music to lyrics written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, and Streisand prefaced the song by mentioning the impact Hamlisch had on her career … and on music in general.
Hamlisch was one of the most recognizable names in a tribute that also featured such long-popular talents as Ernest Borgnine and Jack Klugman, but the segment also did a commendable job of making clear the cinematic contributions of other individuals lost in the past year.
Such names as writer-director Nora Ephron (“When Harry Met Sally … “) and lyricist Hal David (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) likely were familiar to many Oscar viewers. Perhaps not so much those of cinematographer Bruce Surtees (“Dirty Harry”) or production designer J. Michael Riva (“The Amazing Spider-Man”).
And bringing Streisand out as the capper, especially with her well-known connection to Hamlisch, was as poignant as it was meant to be. Not to mention rather thrilling for her longtime devotees, both in Hollywood’s Nokia Theatre and at home.