Much like Thomas Newman in Original Score, we have another double digit nominee here in Original Song that’s never won: Diane Warren, who earned her 11th nomination for the song “I’m Standing With You” from faith-based film Breakthrough. Can she pull off a surprise win and finally become an Oscar winner? I wouldn’t bet on it.
Original Song is always a wild mix of sole nominations for a film, connection to a Documentary Feature, Best Picture or Animated Feature nominee. In this last decade, six winners came from one of the last two. Only Skyfall and Spectre (the Bond films) and The Muppets found themselves with wins away from that.
This year, we have just a single song connected to a main nominee, “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” by two-time Oscar winner Randy Newman from Toy Story 4. Yet weirdly, it doesn’t feel like a winner in the slightest. It’s a far more open category this year than it usually is and I think most of us are defaulting to Elton John’s “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again.” It won Critics Choice and the Golden Globe, but it’s Rocketman only nomination (that costume snub is still crazy). John is a previous winner here but is there a huge urge to reward him again for slapping an original song on film biopic of his life?
Frozen II was snubbed for Animated Feature but Oscar winners Kristen Lopez-Anderson and Robert Lopez are nodded here once again. But “Into the Unknown” is only memorable for feeling like rip-off of their Oscar-winning “Let It Go” from the original film.
Many of Diane Warren’s Oscar nominations here, like hers this year, end up being the only nomination for the film. Warren gets in on her name and name alone from the music branch but when it comes time for the Academy at large to vote, they’ve gone elsewhere 10 times. Breakthrough was a modest box office hit but definitely not on the Academy’s radar. They’re going to have to go out of their way to reward here. They might, but it feels like a relative longshot.
Which brings us to “Stand Up” from Harriet. While Harriet is not a Best Picture nominee, singer and co-songwriter Cynthia Erivo is a Best Actress nominee and the closest thing voters have to that. But there’s more to a possible win for Erivo in her favor that could give her the upper hand. When the nominees were announced, Erivo was the sole person of color of all 20 acting nominees. Outrage was sparked once again, the very kind that spawned #OscarsSoWhite and the need for the Academy to make some dramatic changes in their membership. While I’m not saying the Academy at large could see a win her for her (she’s not winning Best Actress) as one of the best and, unlike last year, and few ways to reward a person of color across their voting this year, there will certainly be some who will actively do so. Plus, Erivo will also then become the newest member of the EGOT club in the process – becoming the youngest ever to do so and only the second black woman to do so after Whoopi Goldberg – and who doesn’t love being a part of history?
Here are my ranked predictions for Original Song.
|1. Harriet – “Stand Up” (Focus Features)||CCA, GG|
|2. Rocketman – “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” (Paramount)||CCA, GG|
|3. Breakthrough – “I’m Standing with You” (20th Century Fox)||CCA|
|4. Toy Story 4 – “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” (Disney/Pixar)||N/A|
|5. Frozen II – “Into the Unknown” (Disney)||CCA, GG|