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« Watch at Home: Boy Erased,The Wife,RBG,and First Man| Main| Who will win Supporting Actress?Who should win?»
Wednesday
Jan 30 2019

Soundtracking: The "Alone Yet Not Alone" Snafu

byChris Feil

A moment that will live in Oscar infamy,it happened so fast we could barely take in the joy of "Oscar nominee June Squibb"as a realized concept.Five years ago Cheryl Boone Isaacs,standing next to Chris Hemsworth,downshifted from announcing supporting acting categories into the much more low-pressure Original Song category.And then unleashed chaos onto announcement morning.

What the hell was "Alone Yet Not Alone"fromAlone Yet Not Alone?

This curveball was so flabbergasting as to make us feel alone - but our collective,instantaneous headscratching made us feel,well you get the point.Safely,we could call this nomination the one of the modern era that exactly no one,both professional prognosticators or average movies lover alike,had predicted.Conventional wisdom might have favored the likes ofThe Great Gatsbyor evenAll is Lostto take the final spotamong more widely beloved songs like "Let It Go","Happy","The Moon Song",and oh yeah that U2 song from the Nelson Mandela movie (thus bringing an end to Those Years U2 Really Wanted an Oscar).

No,buried among the list of 75 eligible songs was this unlikely nominee,co-mingling with at least two dozen other similarly unfamiliar tracks.Yet this Christian folksong was somehow the one to break through.But what would come out from our immediate scrambling to figure out what the hell this nominee was was also the stuff of recent Oscar legend: it became one of Oscar's few revoked nominations.Among the digging done on the unknown film,it was discovered that one of the song's cowriters and former Academy board member Bruce Broughton had been emailing branch members directly for consideration of the track.

Swiftly,the Academy took action and brought the ire of Christian circles that felt that the revocation was moreso in response to the religious themes of the film and song.While this underlined the mileage between the Hollywood system (heck,even the independent filmmaking world) and that of the isolative,not unprofittable enigma of Christian filmmaking,this complaint ultimately was unfounded.Rules are rules,and after similar behavior famously got one producer ousted from his nomination tied toThe Hurt Locker's eventual Best Picture win,the Academy was already primed to punish wayward campaigning.

All around,this whole situation felt like more fuel to the fire of the wishful talk of eliminating the category altogether.The song's narrative impact feels completely beside the point,with this revelation showing that the songwriting branch likely didn't consider that when they adhered to their buddy Broughton's email plea.Had they done so,they would have found a placid (and yes,accidentally lyrically silly) track without the finesse or impact of its co-nominees.

But what unfortunately "Alone Yet Not Alone"'s nomination tactics revealed is the unlikely road ahead for our underdog favorites.The sad story revealed here is that song like a "Drive It Like You Stole It"or a "So You Know What It's Like"fromShort Term 12(in theAlone Yet Not AloneOscar year) have a road too hard to climb by fair methods against more prominent competition.

All Soundtracking installments can be foundhere!

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Reader Comments (8)

The songwriter shld've follow up w ano song "Nominated,yet not nominated"

January 30,2019 | Unregistered CommenterClaran

I miss the golden age of this category when I could see myself voting for three or four of the five nominees.

January 30,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Rules are rules I guess,but Oscar campaigning is its own industry and I wonder if an email from an Academy board member is more egregious than all the other campaign tactics employed by large and well funded studios.Not that I think that this nomination was a good one mind you,but I am just curious as how the line is drawn.

January 30,2019 | Unregistered CommenterRami

To Peggy Sue,you wouldn't vote for 3 or 4 of this year's nominees?I still believe support for Gaga and A Star is Born is low and I think Diane Warren will pull off the upset on her tenth nomination for RBG's I'll Fight.I think in most years,I'll Fight,All The Stars,and The Place Where Lost Things Go would all be sure bets to win.

January 30,2019 | Unregistered CommenterJames

Claran: Great line!

Chris: Thanks for this reminder of one of the weirdest nominee morning moments.You could tell that the press in the audience didn't know what the film was either!

Re: The Hurt Locker: the Academy didn't rescind Nicholas Chartier's Best Picture nomination for The Hurt Locker,they just rescinded his invitation to the ceremony.They did,however,since rescind Greg P.Russell's Sound Mixing nomination for 13 Days,so they are clearly getting tougher on nominee behaviour!

January 30,2019 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I was so mad that Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey was snubbed that year,and I have a feeling it was probably the one that missed out for this stupid song.

January 30,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

James -- I would only vote for Shallow.

January 30,2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I wonder why the Academy doesn't announce a replacement nominee,as the Emmys do - memorably when Peter MacNichol was found ineligible for 'Veep' as a guest actor for appearing in too many episodes*,then was replaced with Peter Scolari,and Peter Scolari went on to win.I also found an instance recently where a contemporary costume nomination was revoked for 'This is Us' due to it not being entirely contemporary,and it was,again replaced.

*You would think they would figure this out beforehand.

February 1,2019 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

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