When the most recent Academy Award nominations were announced a couple of weeks ago, there weren’t a lot of surprises (although there were a number of snubs). One of the biggest surprises occurred in the Best Original Song category. The following songs were nominated:
“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
Music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from Frozen
Music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez
“The Moon Song” from Her
Music and lyrics by Karen O, lyrics by Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Music and lyrics by Bono, music by the Edge, Adam Clayton, & Larry Mullen Jr.
“Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone
Music by Bruce Broughton, Lyrics by Dennis Spiegel
If you don’t recognize the last film, you’re not alone. Most people had never heard of Alone Yet Not Alone, an independently-produced faith-based movie (code for shamelessly terrible religious message movie) that supposedly played in 11 theaters last year somewhere in the United States. Most film music fans recognized Bruce Broughton’s name (a Best Original Score Oscar nominee for 1985’s Silverado). Broughton is also a former Governor of the Academy Board of Governors (he served from 2003 to 2012) and a current music branch executive committee member. Broughton had emailed members of the music branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period, which is a violation of Academy rules. The Academy board of governors have voted to disqualify the song’s nomination, leaving the category with only four nominated songs and no replacement song nominee. I bet if Disney had submitted more than one song for Frozen to begin with, it would have gotten nominated and this whole fiasco could have been avoided (my replacement nominee would be either the Frozen song “In Summer,” sung by a hilarious Josh Gad, or “I See Fire” from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, sung by Ed Sheeran).
Broughton was devastated by the news; he believes that he was simply engaging in a grass roots campaign for his nominated song. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs made a statement on the matter: “No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage.” While Broughton is one of my favorite composers, he was wrong to e-mail his fellow committee members about his nominated song. Apparently, there was also controversy over the song’s nomination in the first place, considering the film’s obscurity (there aren’t even any reviews posted on Rotten Tomatoes). It’s suspected that Broughton might’ve used his position to influence members to help him get the song nominated in the first place. It’s a shame because it certainly seems like a lot of trouble to go through for a most likely crappy film.