Listen to the Documentary Oscar Contenders for Best Song
By Pat Mullen
You won’t hear the names of any documentaries at the Golden Globe Awards next week, but that’s because non-fiction filmmaking simply isn’t eligible at Hollywood’s second biggest night.
However, there are ten documentaries that could break through beyond the Best Documentary Feature category when the Academy Award nominations are unveiled two weeks after the Globes names their winners. The recently unveiled list of eligible contenders for Best Original Song highlights a few frontrunners in the category that hail from documentaries.
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power has some shoes to fill since only one doc, An Inconvenient Truth, has won the Oscar in the category. (For Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up.”) Truth to Power hopes to live up to its predecessor with the poppier, but no less compelling, anthem “Truth to Power” by OneRepublic that closes out the doc.
Documentary could provide perennial Oscar bridesmaid Diane Warren her first win if she lands her ninth nomination with Cher’s “Prayers for this World” from the HBO doc Cries from Syria. Warren was favoured to win for the Lady Gaga anthem Til It Happens to You from The Hunting Ground in 2016, but lost to Sam Smith’s Spectre. “Prayers for this World” currently has the best bet for a documentary with the Oscar predictions site Gold Derby putting it as the seventh likeliest contender with 33/1 odds to win. (All other docs have odds of 100/1.)
Other heavyweights in the category are three-time winners Alan and Marilyn Bergman for their song from If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast. The pair previously won Oscars for Yentl, The Way We Were, and The Thomas Crown Affair.
Docs on the Oscar shortlist like Chasing Coral and City of Ghosts could find themselves double nominees if they land nods for Kristen Bell’s Broadway-ish “Tell Me How Long” and Wasfi Massarani’s haunting “Broken Wing,” respectively. Chasing Coral has some hope for a nomination if it misses with the doc branch, since 2012’s smoky Scarlett Johansson ballad “Before My Time” earned a nomination for Chasing Ice. Ditto Step, which unfortunately didn’t make the shortlist, but has an outside shot for the inspiring number “Jump.”
But perhaps the best story of the 10 doc contenders is the song “U.N.I (You and I)” from the documentary And the Winner Isn’t…. The story goes that Geoffrey Moore, son of late actor Roger Moore, embarked on a quest to make a documentary about what it takes to win an Oscar when he decided that he wanted one for a song he wrote for a charity. The only hitch is that a song needs a movie in order to be eligible for Academy honours, so Moore, his daughter Ambra, and director Nik Panic interviewed a bunch of celebrities and insiders about the futile hunt for Oscar glory. It might be the first film to openly be a feature-length Oscar campaign!
Here nine of the documentary contenders for Best Song for your listening pleasure:
“U.N.I. (You and I)” from And the Winner Isn’t…
This song is the only one not available…for now!
“She” from Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (performed by Alice Phoebe Lou)
“Tell Me How Long” from Chasing Coral (performed by Kristen Bell)
“Broken Wing” from City of Ghosts (performed by Wasfi Massarani)
“Prayers for this World” from Cries from Syria (performed by Cher)
“Just Getting Started” from If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast (performed by Alan Bergman, Dave Grusin & Band)
“Truth to Power” from An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (performed by OneRepublic)
“Dancing Through the Wreckage” from Served Like a Girl (performed by Pat Benatar)
“Jump” from Step (performed by Cynthia Erivo)
“Tickling Giants” from Tickling Giants (performed by Anteka and Omar Boflot)
Which song gets your vote?