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Wednesday
Jan292014

And Then There Were Four. Oscar Nomination Revoked In Yet More Music Branch Drama

As you have undoubtedly heard because the drama is too juicy not to spread, the Original Song nominee that shocked everyone on Nomination Morning is no longer. "Alone Yet Not Alone" from Alone Yet Not Alone, a faith-based movie, has been disqualified due to excessive untoward campaigning. The nomination had been controversial right from the start for multiple reasons. First, no one had heard of the movie (not even one review on Rotten Tomatoes at the time) and people don't like obscure things. Then the amateurish-looking and racist-seeming trailer got passed around mockingly and we learned that anti-gay activists were endorsing the film. The team behind it basically gave God the credit for its nomination. Listen, Oscar night is heaven on earth but God's got nothing to do with it.

More on Oscar's most aggravating branch after the jump... 

Things really heated up when it was revealed that the movie wasn't traditionally advertised during its run apart from the theater showtime listing (a clear spirit of the law violation but Oscar let that first offense slide for some reason). The latest is that that the songwriter Bruce Broughton, an Executive Committee member had emailed around blatantly asking for votes and thus the nomination was doomed. That's a big no-no. Why do people never learn? (see also Governor Christie's current scandal in New Jersey) If you're going to break the rules, never put it in writing! Sadly, the nomination will not be replaced so we won't know who came in 6th but with so many good options this year it's a pity and a punishment to those that 6th place slotter that followed the rules that this is the way it worked out. 

The Hollywood Reporter and EW were on the case quickly with lists of past revoked nominations. It's rare but hardly unprecedented with five, now six, instances in history:

  1. SHORT SUBJECT – COMEDY, 1931/1932Stout Hearts and Willing Hands —nomination was replaced
  2. DOCUMENTARY FEATURE, 1968Young Americans: Not just the nomination but the statue itself!
  3. ORIGINAL SCORE, 1972: The Godfather. Too much of the score was recycled material. Revote so the category did end up with five nominees.
  4. BEST FOREIGN FILM, 1992: A Place in the World. Not Uruguyan enough! - nomination was not replaced.
  5. LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM, 2011: Tuba Atlantic Revoked after the ceremony when it had already lost
  6. BEST ORIGINAL SONG, 2013: "Alone Yet Not Alone" from Alone Yet Not Alone. nomination was not replaced.

I hadn't even heard of the reversal on Tuba Atlantic just two years ago. I assume that stealth move was due to the shorts categories very low profile. Other campaigns to revoke Oscar nominations have been unsuccessful

Naturally, because Alone Yet Not Alone was a faith-based movies and Christians LOVE their persecution complexes, this tweet exchange had me LOL'ing instantly:

 

 

It's hilarious because it's true. Please send me the links when those articles go up. I'm sure this saga isn't over yet.

But above all else this topic reminds us again what a complete mess the music branch of the Academy is. They're the single most cliquey branch, with more "default" nominees than any other and a "close the circle!" pattern where it's harder than it should be for new composers to get their first nomination, even if they win huge acclaim. I'm absolutely convinced that John Williams, for instance, could hit one note on a piano over and over again and they'd jot his name down at the top of the ballot. Let us not speak of Randy Newman's constant nominations from 1982 through 2010.

Silver Linings Playbook score was disqualified due to only 15 minutes of underscore. Meanwhile Babel, which used a ton of non original music and some old music by Santaolalla won the Oscar in its year

Perhaps most aggravating is their practice of bizarrely inconsistent or confusing rulings from disqualifications (no Jonny Greenwood for There Will Be Blood for you!) due to pre-existing material or not "not substantial" enough underscoring but actual Oscar wins for scores where most of the big moments are pre-existing material (see Gustavo Santaolalla's Babel) or their previous (thankfully overhauled) voting system in which you could actually vote AGAINST nominees by scoring them low and preventing their "average" from qualifying them for a nod, or their history of nominating end credits song but then getting huffy about it at other times (no Bruce Springsteen for The Wrestler? Are you f'ing kidding me?) or disqualifying songs on technicalities even though they perfectly fit the spirit of what an "Original Song" should mean to a movie (see "Come What May" from Moulin Rouge!, written for another Baz Luhrmann picture but saved instead for that one which was disqualified while Steve Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" written years before  Woman in Red filmed did not result in a disqualification or an Oscar revoked

Neither were written FOR their movie but one won the Oscar and the other, far more crucial to its film was disqualified 

Perhaps the silver lining of this current debacle is that it might prompt the Academy to look into "fixing" this branch the way they've shaken up and improved the documentary and foreign branches and their voting procedures when they were shamed into it after numerous questionable choices. 

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    Response: Oscars 2014

Reader Comments (37)

As my friend said: Oscar Nominee Yet Not Oscar Nominee

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike B.

I first read it got disqualified and was super excited because Young and Beautiful's snub hurt me the most on Oscar nom morning, but then I read there wouldn't be a fifth nominee announced and I was sad all over again. It's dumb that someone got pushed into sixth place because of this guy having an unfair advantage, but that candidate will not be able to replace him when he's disqualified. It sucks.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

I'm sorry if I offend anyone but I'm glad it's no longer nominated.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Congratulations to AMPAS for righting the wrong, but it's not fair to not replacing the emptied out slot with another nominee. Just because your members got inappropriately influenced into voting, you have to punish other more deserving songs like Young & Beautiful from The Great Gatsby?

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

Wait...what.....Tuba Atlantic had its nomination taken away? It was the best one nominated that year..................I'm legit upset over hearing this.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

Fascinating piece. I'll never forget how the theme from Mahogany was disqualified because Thelma Houston recorded it two years earlier. But Diana Ross "persuaded" the voters to let it in. Have NO idea how. Love this song but that's just playing shitty.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I keep seeing this joke, though: Nominated, Yet Not Nominated

and it's so great. hahah

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

The Babel nomination and win just goes to show how little they (sometimes) pay attention to their own rules. I can't imagine that the win would've been possible without the piece ("Bibo No Aozora) that plays over roughly the last 5 minutes of the film, and it was written by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto in the 90s! You just never seem to know when the rules will apply, leading to heartbreaks like "Come What May", Johnny Greenwood, and Karen O with Where the Wild Things Are (thankfully she was recognized this year).

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterVal

This is proving to be the most entertaining Oscar season I've experienced in the last 10 years or so. Please, more surprises and suspense!

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJones

Ugh. This is making me even more pissed that Young and Beautiful missed the final cut. What the hell is up with that music branch? Other than obvious winners like Falling Slowly and Skyfall, it's a hot ass mess.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

""Perhaps the silver lining of this current debacle is that it might prompt the Academy to look into "fixing" this branch the way they've shaken up and improved the documentary and foreign branches and their voting procedures when they were shamed into it after numerous questionable choices. ""

From your mouth to the academy's ears.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

A nom yet not a nom

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterThe Infamous

*insert Michael Jackson eating popcorn in Thriller gif*

So delicious! And rare!

I knew that nomination was too weird to be true. Literally no one had seen or heard of this random ass movie until that song was nominated. And I understand that they can't exactly replace it with something else after the nominations have already been announced (they just don't do this) but that still sucks for those other awesome songs left out. These two music branch categories are routinely bizarre in what they will or won't nominate and do or don't disqualify. Don't even get me started on that awful "Come What May" snub. Hopefully, they really do go to town on these two categories because something is clearly not working and it gets more embarrassing each year.

I, too, had no idea about Tuba Atlantic's nod being revoked but I guess it's indeed true:

“After the awards ceremony on February 26, 2012, the Academy was made aware that “Tuba Atlantic” had been shown on Norwegian television in 2010, making the film ineligible for the 84th Awards under the rules governing the category. In July 2012, the nomination was rescinded by the Board of Governors,” an Academy exec explained.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

Great article and interesting to hear The Godfather score fell into that category. The music branch is so surprisingly sad. Maybe they should form a committee to save nominees, similar to the foreign film branch. Just a though.

Also, completely unrelated: Saw Frances based on Nick Davis' regular mentions of it and must admit - fantastic. I think Julie Andrews gives career best work in Victor/Victoris, and I'd have a hard time choosing between her and Lange for the prize. (I also immediately went and bought The Desiring Image.)

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

Kris Tapley brings up an interesting point about how the other films have lots of money and promotional muscle behind them . I wonder if this movies subject matter wasn't so cringe would this disqualification have happened? A look at Oscar campaigning as a whole and not just the music branch needs to be looked at.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Let's hope this joke of a nomination will cause the Academy to seriously overhaul the music branch because too many deserving songs have been unjustly overlooked. This is long overdue.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

What makes everyone assume Young and Beautiful was the 6th placed song? It could have been another obscure 'out of nowehere' song - Kama Sutra anyone? LOL.

Seriously - there are three branches that constantly stuff up - Music, Documentary and Foreign Language.

And yes - I totally agree that 'Come what may' was one of the best songs in movie history and was disqualfied for some insane reason.

But let's not forget one of the biggest controversies in music Academy history - the disqualification / snubbing of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. If there is one film that used it's 'original' music so perfectly - this was it.

Yep - showing my age.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Music branch does not listen.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

All right. One down. Now to move forward with the anti-Ordinary Love whisper campaign.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Mike - lol! I wouldn't worry. I think "Let it Go" probably has this in the bag

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"I wonder if this movies subject matter wasn't so cringe would this disqualification have happened? A look at Oscar campaigning as a whole and not just the music branch needs to be looked as a whole and not just the music branch needs to be looked at."

Now you're talking about something different. 7'' Happy LP vinyls is not the same of abuse of power by a Music Governor to get a film that never played anywhere to get its song a nomination. Yes, it being an obscure faith-based film that has views of Native Americans that would make most Western directors in the 50s blush, but it was so obscure and definitely not seen that there is was so transparently obvious that nobody saw the film.

I know some people want a campaign finance reform-like treatment of Oscar campaigning but regardless of campaigning, the music branch as this post shows, has always been a bit shaky and dubious as a branch.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

pssst, you're missing either the set up or the punchline of that twitter exchange...

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpar

par -- i think it doesn't show if you're accessing the site from a mobile device. i only got the punchline when i looked at it on my phone but the whole thing is there on web browsers. weird.

January 30, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ugh, that Babel win was SO egregious. Still biter that he won that, as well as beating out John Williams for Memoirs of a Geisha when he won for Brokeback. (ducks and covers)

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

Don't forget when Karen O and Carter Burwell were disqualified from Original Score after the votes were cast but before the nominations were announced. Something funky happened there, for sure.

I actually do feel bad for this songwriting team. It is a lovely little composition. The quality of the song, not fame (which doesn't automatically discredit artists like Taylor Swift, for example) should be the deciding factor. Voting for the name is why Original Score rarely has surprises. I wouldn't have picked "Alone Yet Not Alone" because I hadn't heard the song until after the nominations were announced. I still don't think I would pick it because I prefer other nominees and even songs that weren't submitted (I love the original Thai karaoke songs in Only God Forgives, for example, when that film didn't submit for any music awards).

It's also quite clear that a film without a single mainstream review and no box office data only got a nomination because of campaigning. There is an acceptable level of campaigning; otherwise, screeners and information packs with press clips wouldn't exist. The former Music Branch president screwed up and, yes, it's already being played as persecution against Christians.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/january/oscar-best-song-alone-yet-not-alone-joni-eareckson-tada.html

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

If they name another nominee everyone would know that person came in sixth in the actual voting. Is that a great look for Lana Del Rey/Coldplay/Taylor Swift/Ed Sheeran/whichever random songwriter it was? You got your Oscar nod but only on a technicality/DQ. What if an acting nod were revoked and the sixth place person were bumped up and got to go the Oscars instead--awards watchers would scream bloody murder about it for years, no, decades!

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

Claire-they revealed and gave the nomination to John Addison in 1972 when The Godfather got disqualified. You still get to be an Oscar nominee-I doubt any potential nominee would mind. It's not like we don't know frequently which person was in fifth place even without something like this circumstance.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Claire, the Grammy Awards always do that when a song/artist is disqualified after the nominations come out. It's in the interest of fairness. Since that nominee should have been disqualified before the nominations were announced, the sixth place finisher likely would have gotten the nomination.

Now, with Original Song, there's a good chance that the votes were split so wide over so many songs they're choosing not to bump one up because the results are too close to pick a clear sixth place.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

robert g -- or they just don't care which is what i think is happening

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNathanielR

"Tuba Atlantic" was excellent. It would have been a great winner. Sad that it was disqualified for whatever reasons.

"Alone Yet Not Alone" is a hacky, POS song, so I have no problems with it being eliminated from the category. Just wish that it had happened sooner. "Young and Beautiful" deserved that slot that it will never receive now, and that's bullshit.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterYancey

eurocheese, ITA. Lange's performance in Frances is a revelation. I know this is heresy, but I would have chosen her for the Oscar that year over Streep. Jessica pulls off something really tricky in this part: rather than play someone going crazy, she plays someone trying not to go crazy. It's one of the best performances ever in movie history. I also adore Julie in V/V and think she's so magical in that film. A fine year for actresses.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

"Happy" is surging on iTunes post-Grammys. Pharrell could very well upset in Original Song over "Let It Go"! I'd be perfectly fine with that happening for him too.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterToby

Nathaniel - I remember hearing rumours that fans of the Slumdog Millionaire composer were downvoting The Wrestler because they were worried it might beat Jai Ho if nominated. Was there any truth to that or was it just a rumour? It certainly would explain how such a great song wasn't nominated.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOwen

owen -- that was always my fear (and assumption) that year. it was just a voting system that was absolutely begging for people to play dirty politics.

January 30, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Speaking of Music Branch weirdness... how about that other score category that still hasn't seen the light of day? Best Musical.... hahaha. Frozen would have been eligible there but I guess there wasn't enough to justify activation.

Seriously, just make it Adapted or Song Score and then you will get eligible candidates.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCee Man

Cee Man, we just need one year with NINE original musicals written for the screen and they have to to give out an Oscar for Best Musical Score. I have faith it will happen one day.

Nathaniel, I also have myself convinced that the Academy eliminating that stupid scoring threshold means they actually care about Original Song again and really do want the category to succeed. I also haven't slept well in days and the insomnia is getting to my head, so it could all be an impossible dream not actually reflecting reality. I mean, I actually liked the AHS: Coven finale under these circumstances so I'm probably not of sound mind right now.

January 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Count me among the people sad to hear Tuba Atlantic had its nomination revoked. I loved that short.

January 31, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

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