When the Oscar nominations were announced two weeks ago, there were quite a few surprises in the mix. Heavyweights like Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson were surprisingly not to found on the acting rosters, while Jonah Hill collected his second nomination despite not having any previous precursor mentions and Philomena surprisingly managed to keep the Oscar machine on for another year of service for The Weinstein Company, of which many thought would be vulnerable after a shaky year. Yet the most jarring mention was in the Best Original Song category when the tiny, barely released film Alone Yet Not Alone was nominated for its title song. In a twist worthy of a Hollywood drama, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has rescinded the nomination.
Alone Yet Not Alone is a faith-based independent film that was released last September by Enthuse Entertainment to a specifically Christian market. There was obvious mystery in the nomination of the film’s song, as most in the film community had never even heard of the film itself – researching the title itself only added to mystery that something fishier was at work as the film had no reviews of online aggregate sites Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic. It certainly isn’t unheard of for the music brand of the Academy to sing to a different tune, offbeat song and score nominations have paraded alongside more known quantities for years, including recent examples of little-heard-of films like Paris 36, Chasing Ice and The Chorus all receiving nods in the song category. Yet the reason for the disqualification in the end had nothing to do with that, but more on the personal “For Your Consideration” forward by the title song’s composer.
The title hymn to Alone Yet Not Alone was written by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel. The attention-grabbing nomination came into focus a bit more clearly due to Broughton’s status as a former governor and current Music Branch executive member of the Academy. The Academy killed the nomination because of allegations that Broughton put forth a campaign on his own by e-mailing members of the branch, an Academy no-no. Current Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs commented, “No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,” as the Academy convened Tuesday evening to discuss the status of the nomination.
This actually isn’t the first time a nomination was disqualified and the other example lies within the music brand of the Academy as well – in 1972 it was ruled that The Godfather‘s original score was greatly lifted from a previous film and shunned of its nomination. As is the Best Original Song category will go with just four nominees – “Happy,” from Despicable Me 2, “Let it Go,” from Frozen, “The Moon Song,” from Her and “Ordinary Love,” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.