The poor little Oscar song category just can't seem to get a break. The Academy this week struck the title song from little-known faith-based film "Alone Yet Not Alone" from contention, placing the spotlight once again on a field that's struggled to get in tune with critical and popular consensus.
The category was little more than a joke just two years ago, when Oscar voters could only be troubled to find two songs worthy of contention. But the field made great leaps forward last year and had appeared to this year as well, as Oscar voters once again recognized a full five songs and showed a willingness to step beyond the comfort zone of musically inclined movies.
"Alone Yet Not Alone" was the clear underdog in a category that featured "Let It Go" from "Frozen," "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2," "Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" and "The Moon Song" from "Her." It was also the center of an award-season controversy.
The nomination of "Alone Yet Not Alone" raised questions from the start. The song by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel is from a little-seen film about 18th century colonists, but it's outsider status wasn't why it attracted attention
Broughton is a well-known industry name who has multiple Emmy awards and a prior Oscar nomination for his score to "Silverado," but he has also served as a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is a former chair of the music branch. He currently serves on the executive committee of the academy's 239-member-strong music branch, whose members vote on the song nominations.
It looked as if Oscar voters had simply nominated one of their own, and it was, in the words of Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, " the appearance of an unfair advantage." Ultimately, as detailed by sister blog Movies Now, the Academy said Broughton improperly emailed members of the branch during the voting period, urging them to listen to "Alone Yet Not Alone."