The Oscars are coming, and there's nothing anybody can do about it. So with movies on our minds, we figured the upcoming ceremonies would be the perfect way to celebrate our favourite musical mini-movies – or, for the more literal definition, cinematic music videos.
Will watching the likes of Michael Jackson, Pulp, Lady Gaga, Arcade Fire and Kanye West on this list make Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" Oscar snub any less painful? No.
But at the very least, you can now kill the same amount of time here as you would watching an actual film – and with better music, too.
11. "Like A Prayer" - Madonna
Let's get controversial! Directed by Mary Lambert, this 1989 video depicted the story of a black man (Leon Robinson) who's been wrongfully accused of murder. Madonna, having witnessed the murder, flees to a church where she prays in front of a caged saint who looks just like Robinson. After a lot of religious iconography -- including Madonna having stigmata, dancing in front of burning crosses and kissing the black saint -- she finally decides to tell the police the man is innocent, and he is set free. It earned critical acclaim and a hell storm from religious advocates, up to and including the Vatican. "Like a Prayer" was also used to soundtrack a multi-million dollar two-minute Pepsi commercial, albeit the ad was pulled after the music video aired.
10. "Worst Behaviour" - Drake
It may lack a definitive narrative, but do you know what the Director X-piloted video doesn't lack? Cameos. Over the span of ten minutes (and with pauses for dialogue), fans are treated to appearances by Drake's dad, Turk of the Hot Boys, Juicy J, and Project Pat. But arguably, the true highlight is Drake's hands, which are truly the video's shining stars.
9. "Telephone" - Lady Gaga ft. Beyoncé
The song itself may be about a boyfriend who won't let his partner go dancing (though arguably, she could probably just not answer her phone), but the video turns a party anthem into a Tarantino-inspired Thelma and Louise. Abstract, colourful, and controversial (together, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga murder Tyrese, the boyfriend in question), the Jonas Akerlund-directed piece runs for over nine minutes, and even included the infamous "Pussy Wagon," which was driven by Uma Thurman in "Kill Bill."
8. "Ride" - Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey has a flair for dramatics -- and thank goodness, because her performances and videos are never uninteresting. Director Anthony Madler (who also directed the video for "National Anthem") obviously recognized this, and teamed up with Del Rey again to create a 10-minute video about a doomed love affair that ended just like Mischa Barton's run on "The O.C." (with a car accident). Absolutely breathtaking – and yes, at this point I'm referring to the tiger.
7. "Stan" - Eminem ft. Dido
It's been 14 years since we first heard the (fictional) tale of an obsessive fan that murdered his girlfriend because Eminem didn't write back to his letters. And lo and behold, the video for "Stan" is no less jarring now than it was in 2000. Starring Devon Sawa as Stan, Dido as his girlfriend, and Eminem as himself, the original video ran for over eight minutes, but ended up getting heavily censored for MTV (and even more for Fuse) to become the version most of us are familiar with now. Obviously, the effect is a little different.
6. "Common People" - People
On the flip side, some videos just keep it simple. Enter: Pulp, who basically followed the storyline of their 1995 hit, "Common People" with actress Sadie Frost (and a few references to The Beatles). Straightforward, kitschy, and featuring the improvised dance moves from frontman Jarvis Cocker, this video could easily moonlight as part of a campaign for Tourism England. (At least for the east end, where it was filmed.)
5. "Pretty Hurts" - Beyoncé
Beyoncé's self-titled album was chalk-full of videos that proved why she's also an actress, but the video for "Pretty Hurts" – directed by Melina Matsoukas, and featuring Harvey Keitel – effectively rips out hearts and stomps them flat. With Beyoncé playing a beauty pageant contestant who's suffering from an addiction to diet pills and an eating disorder, the song's message (about body image) is boldly driven home, but still doesn't feel like an after school special. At just over four minutes, this video deserves its own feature film narrative.
4. "Afterlife" - Arcade Fire
Revolving around the void left by loved ones after they die, the video for "Afterlife" follows a family who’s coping with the loss of a wife and mother. But more heartbreaking than the quiet sadness that defines the survivors, the actual heartbreak hits during scenes when her husband and sons visit her in their dreams. Between director Emily Kai Bock's video for Grimes' "Oblivion," Majical Cloudz' "Childhood's End" and this, we might be seeing a new age in great Canadian storytelling music videos.
3. "Thriller" - Michael Jackson
Directed by John Landis in 1983 for $500,000, "Thriller" is easily one of the most iconic music videos made, well, ever. Thanks to Michael Jackson changing into a werewolf after he and his girlfriend run out of gas under the full moon, a posse of dancing zombies and monsters gather to create the best party dance of the 20th century, undead or otherwise.
2. "Born Free" - M.I.A
This 2010 video directed by Romain Gavras is not only horrifying, but also genuinely traumatizing. Depicting genocide against redheaded people, the video boasts gratuitous violence and gore throughout its nine-minute runtime that perfectly demonstrates the horror of military brutality and senseless killing. A surefire way to make sure no one is desensitized to murders and death – even if they don't directly apply to you.
1. "Runaway" - Kanye West ft. Pusha T
In which Kanye West stars and directs a 35-minute music video based on the work of Stanley Kubrick and starring Selita Ebanks as "the Phoenix" (a component of the album, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"), and dozens of ballet dancers. Naturally, the video revolves around a love story between West and the Phoenix, whom he tries to refine after they meet in a forest. It doesn't work out, she bursts into flames, and Kanye West is left alone, with only the inspiration to make a 35-minute music video about falling in love with a phoenix.