Oscars 2016: Best Original Song Eligibles
I love when they announce the Best Original Song eligibles. Nothing is more fun than going through all of them and listening to as many as I can (which is usually 90-95% of them). Definitely one of my favorite articles of the year to write.
This year, there are 91 songs eligible. Of those 91, at least 65 are never gonna get nominated and another 15 stand no realistic chance. So basically we’re gonna listen to 91 songs to find 11 that maybe have a chance, of which only 5 will be nominated.
They’ve updated the system for voting, so now there will be five nominees and they basically just vote for what they like the best and the top five vote getters get nominated. So we’ll gauge accordingly for that. Generally you can listen to them and know which ones have no chance and then also know by sight which ones will get pushed through by studio campaigns or previous nominees.
Anyway, here are your 91 potential nominees for Best Original Song:
1. “Just Like Fire” from Alice Through the Looking Glass
Pink wrote this song. Not sure why they chose this for an Alice in Wonderland movie. It doesn’t fit at all. 2.5 stars.
This will never get nominated. Toss it off now. 0% chance.
2. “Rise” from American Wrestler: The Wizard
I was unable to find this, but it certainly doesn’t sound like something that’ll be nominated. So we’ll skip it for now and assume that just like 90% of the contenders, it has zero shot.
3. “Friends” from The Angry Birds Movie
The words “Angry Birds Movie” should be your first clue as to how much of a shot this one has. The song itself is whatever. Country stuff. This isn’t my genre, so I don’t care. Sounds like generic, broadly appealing chord progressions and stuff. Taylor Swift with a country edge instead of pop. 2 stars.
Not a chance this gets nominated.
4. “Flicker” from Audrie & Daisy
2.5 stars. Didn’t particularly care for this. Doesn’t sound like something they’d nominate. Let’s assume no and let it get on. Not gonna waste my time on this one.
5. “Seconds” from Autumn Lights
3 stars. It’s fair. Doubt they’d nominate it. It’s rare for something wholly unknown to make it on (unless there are some improprieties going on). So this seems unlikely.
6. “A Minute to Breathe” from Before the Flood
3 stars. Those familiar with J. Ralph know about the documentary song nomination that can happen. He got on with the Chasing Ice song and then again with the Racing Extinction song last year. This song has a distinct possibility, if only because Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are previous winners in the Score category. Keep this in the running to be safe.
7. “Glory (Let There Be Peace)” from Believe
This sounds like end credits music. It’s standard religious nonsense, but it’s a fair song. 3 stars.
No chance this gets nominated.
8. “Mother’s Theme” from Believe
9. “Somewhere” from Believe
Wasn’t able to find the other two songs from this movie, but if that first one is any indication, then we don’t have anything to worry about.
10. “The Only Way Out” from Ben-Hur
2.5 stars. Again, who thought this would be a worthwhile song for fucking Ben-Hur? Maybe this comes back to my standard argument — what happened to music/songwriting?
Does anyone think this has a chance at all?
11. “Still Falling for You” from Bridget Jones’s Baby
I’m pretty much eliminating this on the grounds that it’s from a Bridget Jones movie. They couldn’t get Ellie Goulding nominated even with heavy promotion for her Fifty Shades song. I highly doubt this will get anywhere with them.
3.5 stars. It’s not a bad song. I just don’t think it has any chance at getting nominated. We’ll give it a small shot, but still… I doubt it.
12. “F That” from The Bronze
The weirdest songs are eligible for the Oscar. 2.5 stars. I’m amused by this, but no.
Less than zero chance this gets nominated. Bottom ten songs likely to get on the list.
13. “Torch Pt. 2” from Citizen Soldier
This is generic end credits bullshit.
No chance in hell. This sounds like a goddamn Army ad.
14. “Drift and Fall Again” from Criminal
3 stars. It’s decent. Reminiscent of that awesome song from Oblivion that nobody remembers. They’ll never nominate this, but I liked it.
15. “Take Me Down” from Deepwater Horizon
3 stars. This is fine. Doubt they’d nominate it. Doesn’t seem like anything they’d go for.
16. “Land of All” from Desierto
It’s always weird to me to see which movies have original songs in them. Because you can almost never tell anymore. Like, Criminal up there? What?
This song — ehh. 2.5 stars. They wont’ nominate this.
17. “Sad But True (Dreamland Theme)” from Dreamland
Sometimes I wonder why I do this. 75 songs every year, and like, 60 of them are generic dreck.
2.5 stars. Do not care. And they won’t nominate it.
18. “Angel by the Wings” from The Eagle Huntress
3 stars. It’s fine. Typical uplifting kind of song. Not gonna totally discount it, but it seems very unlikely they’d ever nominate this.
19. “Blind Pig” from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Cute. 3.5 stars. Very well done and it fits the era and the universe. But they will never nominate this. Also an awful title. It just sounds unappealing. Appreciate the song, but this has no shot.
20. “One Frame at a Time” from Floyd Norman: An Animated Life
Documentaries are where the original songs are at now. They gotta be like half this list.
3 stars. Standard documentary kind of fare. Not something they’ll nominate most of the time. Can’t see this making it through next to all the other songs that sound just like it.
21. “I’m Crying” from Free State of Jones
3 stars. It’s fine. Not something they’re gonna nominate, but it’s okay.
22. “Gold” from Gold
3.5 stars. It’s a solid song. But this won’t get nominated. This isn’t an Oscar song. This is a Golden Globes song.
23. “Champion” from Hands of Stone
3 stars. It’s catchy enough and has some energy, but whatever. Definitely never gonna be nominated, but it’s decent.
24. “Dance Rascal, Dance” from Hello, My Name Is Doris
Listen to the first five seconds of this song and you know they’ll never nominate it. Hipster electronica music. 3 stars. It’s got a beat, but that’s about it.
Not a fucking chance they will nominate this. Zero. None.
25. “I See a Victory” from Hidden Figures
It’s Pharrell. They’ll give it a push. If anything from this movie is nominated, this is the one. 3.5 stars. It’s catchy, it’s got a message. It’s no “Glory,” but it’s fine. I’ll give this a shot on the strength of the film and a previous nominee.
26. “Runnin'” from Hidden Figures
This is all over the movie. Actually kind of threw me out of it for a minute. But it’s a pretty good song. I’ll give him 3.5 stars here. I enjoyed it. Don’t think it should be nominated, but I’ll give it a very long outside chance. Kinda have to with movies like this. Usually neither makes it, but you gotta give both a shot because sometimes they make weird choices.
27. “Sixty Charisma Scented Blackbirds” from How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change
Hipster band with a banjo player. 2 stars. Not for me. Also not for the Academy either. Skip this.
28. “My Superstar” from Ice Age: Collision Course
Do you even need to click play here? You know this shit has no chance at being nominated. It actually isn’t the worst song in the world. Reminds me of 90s dance music. The lyrics are weak, but this is 2016, and that’s what music is. 3 stars for the nostalgia kick, but that’s about it. This will never be nominated.
29. “Seeing You Around” from Ithaca
Oh, I fucking loved this song. What a lounge-y throwback tune. Leon Redbone here has that same Louis Armstrong voice that he had in “We Have All the Time in the World.” One ravaged by years of drugs and alcohol. You know… a jazz voice. Also, young Leon Redbone looks like John Carradine, and old Leon Redbone looks like middle-aged Paul Newman. Color of Money, The Verdict era.
Anyway, 3.5 stars. This was awesome. Also, they’ll never nominate it. I’ll give it a shot because I’d like them to consider it, but no way this gets through.
30. “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story
Sting sings, and J. Ralph wrote it. They’re both previous nominees. Gotta consider it. 3 stars. Not overly memorable. Sting doesn’t sound great, but it’s an all right song.
31. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land
At least one of these songs from La La Land will be nominated. Come on, buddy.
5 stars. Obviously
32. “City of Stars” from La La Land
5 stars. Let’s not pretend like I’m not fucking thrilled about all of this.
33. “Start a Fire” from La La Land
5 stars. Admit it — we all had that moment where we said, “I kinda really like this song that’s supposed to be his ‘sell out’ moment.”
I hope all three of these get nominated.
34. “Cateura Vamos a Soñar (We Will Dream)” from Landfill Harmonic
3 stars. Good song. They’ll never nominate it, but good job.
35. “Better Love” from The Legend of Tarzan
Because Tarzan. When I think Tarzan, I think Best Original Song.
This is some Imagine Dragons bullshit, too, this song.
3 stars. It’s fair
I had to look up whether or not the singer actually has this name or stole it from Holland-Dozier-Holland. It’s his name. So I’m not upset.
This won’t be nominated. I think you guys know that much without me having to tell you.
36. “Never Give Up” from Lion
Why must all movies set in India have an Indian sound to their music? Always. But hey, as long as it doesn’t come off as offensive to most people, especially Indians, then I’m fine with it.
3.5 stars. This is a very Sia song. I’ll give this a shot, but I don’t think they nominate this. It’s too pop-centric. They typically don’t go for this.
37. “Equation” from The Little Prince
3.5 stars. I liked this. Doubt they’d ever nominate it, but it’s a solid song.
38. “Turnaround” from The Little Prince
3.5 stars. These songs are lovely. They’re gonna ignore them, but the songs are very solid.
39. “Moonshine” from Live by Night
3.5 stars. I liked this. Not a goddamn chance they’re gonna go for this.
40. “Loving” from Loving
Damn. Way more country and mainstream than I expected.
3 stars. It’s fine.
41. “Hurry Home” from Max Rose
2.5 stars. Simple tune. Not for me. Not for them either.
42. “Gone 2015” from Miles Ahead
4 stars. Fucking loved this. They don’t go for rap at all, but this was awesome. Wish they’d have had more straight up jazz in here, but still, this was one of the few fun tunes on this list.
43. “Wish That You Were Here” from Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
A Tim Burton movie has Florence and the Machine doing the song. Something about that feels very wrong. 3.5 stars. I won’t say that I don’t like the song, but the pairing just feels very not-Tim Burton.
They won’t nominate this at all, so don’t worry about that.
44. “I’m Still Here” from Miss Sharon Jones!
I’m not gonna rule this out, especially as a tribute, since she just died. But I truly feel this is gonna end up a red herring and won’t be nominated. My opinion might change. But that’s my feeling on this. It’s just not the same without her being able to be there to perform it.
4 stars. This song is awesome.
45.”How Far I’ll Go” from Moana
5 stars. This is classic Disney songwriting. This shit is perfect, and if it won the Oscar, I would not be unhappy.
This will be nominated, in case you couldn’t already guess. Lin-Manuel is gonna get nominated, and might even win.
46. “We Know the Way” from Moana
There are like four or five great songs in this movie, and they only submitted two of them? What about “You’re Welcome?” Or “Shiny”? Oh well. I guess this is like Frozen, where they knew what was gonna win and just nominated the ones they wanted to get votes.
4 stars. This is not the song from this movie that should win, but I could see them potentially pulling off the double nomination. Especially since this is the big musical performance with all the Polynesian dancers and shit. Could happen. Gotta keep them solidly in contention.
47. “Even More Mine” from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Tom Hanks’ wife sang this?
2.5 stars. It’s fine. Never gonna get nominated.
48. “Waving Goodbye” from The Neon Demon
How many fucking songs does Sia have on this list? She’s like the James Franco of music. But, you know, with talent.
2.5 stars. This song isn’t for me. And it won’t get nominated.
49. “I’m Back” from Never Surrender
Edwin McCain. Well I’ll be.
(Please nominate this song just so I can make that joke continually throughout Oscar build up.)
3 stars. The song’s fine. At this point I’m rooting for it just so I can make that joke.
50. “Find My Victory” from Olympic Pride, American Prejudice
3 stars. It’s fine. Never gonna happen. But it’s fine.
51. “On Ghost Ridge” from 100 Years: One Woman’s Fight for Justice
2.5 stars. Not for me at all. Not gonna be nominated.
52. “Ordinary World” from Ordinary World
Academy Award nominee Green Day.
This can happen, guys.
It won’t, but it can.
53. “Devil’s Girl” from Outlaws and Angels
Won’t get nominated, but I like it. 3 stars. Solid little western tune.
54. “Levitate” from Passengers
Academy Award nominee Imagine Dragons.
This is serious, guys. This actually could happen.
Again, it won’t, because this movie seems like it’ll be lucky to get any nominations. But it could.
P.S. This song sucks.
55. “Ginga” from Pelé: Birth of a Legend
Rahman won, but it was for Slumdog. This has zero chance. He gets an eligible song every other year or so, and people pretend he’s got a legitimate chance at it, but he doesn’t.
2.5 stars. Don’t care.
56. “Nobody Knows” from Pete’s Dragon
3 stars. Hipster shit. Fits the movie, won’t be nominated. This movie needs way higher a profile than it does to even think about cracking this year’s list.
57. “Something Wild” from Pete’s Dragon
White woman playing a violin in the park. Ugh.
58. “Dancing With Your Shadow” from Po
Burt Bacharach wrote this, apparently. It’s got a nice throwback crooner feel to it. 3.5 stars. No chance. These songs never make waves for them. But nice to see it on here.
59. “I’m So Humble” from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
1 star. No.
This won’t be nominated either, so let’s just pretend this doesn’t exist.
60. “Stay Here” from Presenting Princess Shaw
3 stars. Well made and all that. Never gonna get nominated.
61. “Celebrate Life” from Queen Mimi
62. “Back to Life” from Queen of Katwe
3 stars. Not for me. Also never gonna get nominated.
63. “Let the Games Begin” from Race
They won’t nominate this.
64. “Think About It” from The Red Pill
2.5 stars. Not a chance.
65. “The Rules Don’t Apply” from Rules Don’t Apply
Classy throwback song. 4 stars. Doubtful they go for it, but you gotta consider it a major contender, just because they’re gonna look to give Warren Beatty and his movie something. And if there’s any category where they can give him something, this is it. So take this one seriously, even if not a lock.
66. “The Great Beyond” from Sausage Party
The man who wrote this song also wrote “A Whole New World.”
67. “Faith” from Sing
This is Stevie Wonder, and it’s fucking awesome.
Fucking nominate Stevie. I’m cool with that.
He’s a previous winner. This could happen. Not a lock, but he’s definitely someone you gotta consider. The film will get a push here.
68. “Set It All Free” from Sing
This is a well-written song, and I hear instruments and not Garage Band. So that’s nice. This has a shot too. It’s standard pop song progression, but they could go there, potentially.
69. “Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street
5 stars. This is everything you want out of a movie song. Especially when it’s performed by the characters and has relevance to the actual plot.
I’m not gonna make any big statements, but if they really want to adhere to the point of this category, they’ll nominate this song. Otherwise what is the purpose of Best Original Song?
70. “Go Now” from Sing Street
3.5 stars. Solid song. Not the one from the film that should (or probably could) be nominated, but good.
71. “The Veil” from Snowden
I like that they got Peter Gabriel to do this. He’s been contributing interesting songs to films for the past couple of years. 3.5 stars. I like this one. No chance it’ll get nominated, but I like it.
72. “Hymn” from Snowtime!
3 stars. I’m down for any song Celine wants to sing. This stands zero chance at getting nominated, because no one has any earthly idea what this movie is.
73. “Kiss Me Goodnight” from Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Well that wasn’t what I wasn’t expecting. 3 stars. Solid. The kind of shit I’d listen to drunk in a tropical bar.
Never gonna get nominated, but way better than I thought it would be.
74. “Holdin’ Out” from Storks
3 stars. Next.
75. “Heathens” from Suicide Squad
76. “Flying Home” from Sully
I got about four words into this one before I said, “NOPE!”
Not gonna happen.
77. “Montage” from Swiss Army Man
Do I need to tell you this won’t be nominated?
78. “Petit Metier” from They Will Have to Kill Us First – Malian Music in Exile
2.5 stars. Nope.
79. “Letter to the Free” from 13th
3.5 stars. Common is a contender. Don’t think they’ll nominate him, but he’s gotta be considered.
80. “Down With Mary” from Too Late
2.5 stars. This song, though well-intentioned, actually takes me out of the movie. They won’t nominate it.
81. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls
This has the biggest push of all the songs. Timberlake and DreamWorks will force this through to a nomination.
82. “Get Back Up Again” from Trolls
3 stars. It’s cute. But they’re desperate and reaching (and probably corrupt) if this gets nominated.
83. “Smile” from The Uncondemned
2.5 stars. Nah.
84. “We Will Rise” from Veeram-Macbeth
Sounds like a Bollywood song. So we can feel okay about not hearing it and eliminating it.
85. “LA Venus” from We Are X
2 stars. This is about the closest I could find to whatever this song is. Don’t worry, there’s no chance this ever gets nominated.
86. “New Dogs, Old Tricks” from What Happened Last Night
This was the only song of four that I could find. We’re just gonna assume the next three are as bland as this one and as unlikely to be nominated as this one.
87. “Runnin’ Runnin'” from What Happened Last Night
3.5 stars. Fun song. They won’t nominate it because they’ll think it’s beneath them, but it’s a fun song.
88. “What’s Happening Today” from What Happened Last Night
2.5 stars. Not for me.
Not gonna happen. They ignore this stuff.
89. “Who I Am” from What Happened Last Night
Uh oh. Club song. Automatic never gonna happen.
2.5 stars. Just because it reminds me of all the shit that becomes huge hits now, mixed with a Lonely Island parody or something. Weird combination.
90. “The Ballad Of Wiener-Dog” from Wiener-Dog
3.5 stars. I love this song. Not a fucking chance it gets nominated, but I fucking love that it exists.
91. “Try Everything” from Zootopia
3.5 stars. It’s catchy. I’m not ruling it out, but I also don’t see a realistic chance at this to be nominated against a lot of the other animated options this year.
– – – – – – – – – –
You know what’s fun? Without even trying, I pulled 27 songs that I think had a legitimate shot. And with about a half-second’s worth of thought, I eliminated two of them. So we’re down to 25. That feels about right.
I’m not gonna go back and eliminate stuff. That’s pointless. I’m just gonna deal with what I think does have a shot. Even a tiny one. I’m generally pretty good at this. I had 4 in my top 15 last year and the 5th one in the top 25. So chances are, I’ll be about in line with that, because it’s not like this is a particularly difficult category to gauge.
We’re gonna start with the five that theoretically could have a shot, but I’m figuring they likely won’t:
- “Loving” from Loving
- “Flicker” from Audrie & Daisy
- “Angel by the Wings” from The Eagle Huntress
- “Still Falling for You” from Bridget Jones’s Baby
- “Runnin'” from Hidden Figures
– – – – –
20. “A Minute to Breathe” from Before the Flood
19. “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story
18. “Get Back Up Again” from Trolls
17.”Letter to the Free” from 13th
16. “Never Give Up” from Lion
15. “Go Now” from Sing Street
14. “Try Everything” from Zootopia
13. “I See a Victory” from Hidden Figures
12. “Set It All Free” from Sing
11. “Gold” from Gold
10. “I’m Still Here” from Miss Sharon Jones!
9. “We Know the Way” from Moana
8. “The Rules Don’t Apply” from Rules Don’t Apply
7. “Start a Fire” from La La Land
6. “Faith” from Sing
5. “Drive It Like You Stole It” from Sing Street
4. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land
3. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” from Trolls
2. “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana
1. “City of Stars” from La La Land
– – – – –
I’m not gonna write up each one like I did last year. I’ll just give a general overview.
I feel like La La Land will get one song on the list for certain. Possibly a second, but I don’t think that’s a certainty. “City of Stars” seems most likely, and “Audition” seems also pretty likely. I feel like you might need to guess both so that way you don’t split them and get one wrong and can be right in the 50+% chance both end up on.
Moana will get one song on. “How Far I’ll Go” feels like the right choice, but you never know with them. They might put “We Know the Way” just because that sounds like the more Lin-Manuel song, even though he wrote the lyrics for both of them.
Trolls should get on, just because Timberlake is pimping the shit out of it. I have faith in people getting a Song nomination when they really want one (see: Pharrell, “Happy,” 2013).
After that, you have one to two spots that feel open. You can never really gauge what the shock nominee is gonna be, so that’s about knowing how to spot trends. Like the J. Ralph Manta Ray song that got on when I saw that Chasing Ice one from 2009. That’s just about doing the homework.I don’t necessarily think you’re gonna have another one of those situations, given the strength of the potential nominees. (And if they do go a weird route, then you’re gonna have a lot of angry people, myself included, shouting about how rigged the voting is in this category. And I think, after the Foreign Language and Documentary snafus we continue to have, they don’t want to go back to that with this category too.)
Sing Street is feeling like something that should get on but won’t. But Weinstein got Begin Again on here and I think he can push one of those through to the end. Which one, I don’t know. Adam Levine has another one this time, but “Drive It Like You Stole It” feels like the proper choice. You have to assume, with more populist voting, that will be the one. But again, no one knows.
Sing seems like the other animated movie that has a chance to make it on. More so than Zootopia. I feel like they might throw Stevie on there before they double up on Moana.
You can never discount the Sharon Jones of it all, though that seems unlikely. Rules Don’t Apply I think has to be considered just because Warren Beatty is out there so much they’re gonna look to throw him some sort of bone. Original Song and some Costume/Art Direction nomination feels like the way to do it, rather than ignore him entirely. I’m not so sure that doesn’t get on.
I’m flying completely blind on “Gold,” so I have no idea what to make of that. Right now, until I hear it, the Golden Globe nomination is a red herring, because the Golden Globes are a red herring in the Song category. Though it would be shocking if the Globes category mostly matched the Oscars category. You know how often that’s happened in the past decade? Forget decade, you have to go back to 2002 to see them get more than two matches. Which doesn’t bode well for the favorites this year. I’m still thinking this one’s a red herring. (UPDATE: I’ve heard it. It won’t be nominated.)
I feel like this will end up being a really easy year and I shouldn’t overthink it.
For now, this is a good start. I don’t think we’re gonna get more than one surprise, if any. Aside from the usual surprises of “I can’t believe they didn’t nominate (x).” Which always happens, because it’s the goddamn music branch.