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For Your Consideration: The 10 Worst Original Song Oscar Snubs of the Past 10 Years

For Your Consideration: The 10 Worst Original Song Oscar Snubs of the Past 10 Years

In honor of the six-days-and-counting release of “Burlesque,” which features a likely contender for best original song, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” performed by Cher and written by Dianne Warren (who has lost all six of her previous Oscar nominations, dating back to “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” from 1987’s “Mannequin), it seemed only appropriate to dedicate this week’s column to the best original song category.

This year’s race seems likely to be a characteristically boring one, with Warren’s Cher-sung track facing its greatest competition from Alan Menken and Glenn Slater’s songs from “Tangled” (also out next week), Dido’s “If I Rise” from “127 Hours,” Randy Newman’s “We Belong Together” from “Toy Story 3,” John Legend’s “Shine” from “Waiting For ‘Superman,'” and whatever songs Gwenyth Paltrow ends up churning out for “Country Strong.” All probably reasonable entries, but nothing new for this category, which has been one of the Academy’s most historically helpless ones.

Though recently there’s been surprisingly inspired decisions like The Swell Season’s “Falling Slowly,” from “Once,” Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” from “8 Mile,” Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out There For a Pimp,” from “Hustle & Flow” (though many might argue – including this writer – that Dolly Parton’s “Travellin’ Thru” might have been even more inspired), and even last year’s unsurprising but definitely worthy, “The Weary Kind,” from “Crazy Heart” – for every good decision there’s a multitude of bad ones, often due to confusing and irregular Academy rules. So it seemed more interesting to take on what went wrong with the past 10 years of “best original song” nominees than to forecast the tedious waters to come. In list form, here’s 10 of the most glaring omissions in the category from the past decade, emphasized by the additional inclusion of a song that did make it in instead.

And the winners weren’t:

1. What didn’t get nominated: Intensely romantic “Come What May”, the Nicole Kidman-Ewan McGregor duet from “Moulin Rouge!” that was disqualified because it had originally been written for “Romeo+Juliet,” but was never used (2001).

What did: Sorry Diane Warren, but of those noted six nominations, the least respectable was that of “There You’ll Be”, the love theme from “Pearl Harbour,” also known as the poor man’s “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing.”

2. What didn’t get nominated: Bruce Springsteen’s haunting, perfectly fitting “The Wrestler”, from “The Wrestler” (2008).

What did: It didn’t seem like such a travesty at the time, but Jai Ho, from “Slumdog Millionaire” has not aged well, particularly thanks to the Pussycat Dolls infused update.

3. What didn’t get nominated: Karen O and the Kids’ infectious and affecting “All Is Love” from “Where The Wild Things Are,” which perfectly captured the mood of that film. (2009).

What did: Randy Newman’s 19th Academy Award nomination, “Almost There”, one of two paint-by-numbers songs nominated from “The Princess and the Frog.”

4. What didn’t get nominated: Badly Drawn Boy’s melancholic and catchy “Silent Sigh” from the very underrated “About a Boy” (2002).

What did: U2’s boring, spiritless “The Hands That Built America” from “Gangs of New York.”

5. What didn’t get nominated: Gustavo Santaolalla, Bernie Taupin and Emmylou Harris’s gorgeous “A Love That Never Grows Old” from “Brokeback Mountain,” which was someone randomly disqualified for not being “featured prominently” in the film despite countless other nominees being featured even less so (2005).

What did: Kathleen York and Michael Becker’s “In The Deep” from “Crash,” which is trite as the film it represents (and itself was almost disqualified for being on a Kathleen York album previous to “Crash”‘s release).

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6. What didn’t get nominated: Criminally un-Oscared Marc Shaiman for his hilariously satirical “America, Fuck Yeah” from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “Team America: World Police” (2004).

What did: Criminally Oscar-nominated Counting Crow frontman Adam Duritz for his “Shrek 2” theme song “Accidentally In Love”, which sounds like 10,000 other songs.

7. What didn’t get nominated: Eddie Vedder’s moody, evocative “Guaranteed”, from “Into The Wild.” Vedder’s music was basically a character in itself (2007).

What did: Nothing against some of those lovely ditties from “Enchanted,” but three of them did not need to be nominated, especially this mid-1990s slow dance sounding “So Close”.

8. What didn’t get nominated: The incomparable Jon Brion (who helped create the scores for “Eternal Sunshine” and “Magnolia”) and his beautiful “Knock Yourself Out”, from “I Heart Huckabees” (2004).

What did: “Learning To Be Lonely”, a downright horrible original add-on to the soundtrack of Joel Schumacher’s “Phantom of the Opera.”

9. What didn’t get nominated: The ridiculously charming theme “The School of Rock” from “The School of Rock,” which could have been an amazing opportunity to get Jack Black and the kids from the film up on stage (2003).

What did: 2003 actually offered a fantastic lineup of songs, so let’s take this moment to appreciate one of them:

10. What didn’t get nominated: There was really no way the Academy would ever go for something from “Shortbus,” but Justin Bond and the Hungry Marching Band’s “In The End” – which ends off the film magically – is a definite perfect world inclusion (2006).

What did: It seems unfair to keep picking on Randy Newman (this time aided by James Taylor), but “Our Town” from “Cars”??

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE’s Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog. Check out his weekly Oscar prediction chart here.

Previous editions of this column:
For Your Consideration: A Mid-November Stab at Oscar Predictions
For Your Consideration: Gauging a Crowded and Female-Friendly Spirit Award Field
For Your Consideration: Could a Documentary Be Nominated For Best Picture?
For Your Consideration: Assessing Those Gotham Award Nominations
For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actors
For Your Consideration: 10 Underdog Actresses
For Your Consideration: Save For “Love” Snub, Foreign Language Submissions Uncontroversial
For Your Consideration: Post-Toronto Oscar Predictions
For Your Consideration: Updating Oscar Contenders In The Eye of The Storm
For Your Consideration: 10 Things The Fall Fests Should Say About Awards Season
For Your Consideration: Assessing Oscar In The Calm Before The Storm

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Joe Logatto

Bruce would have won the Oscar for the song “The Wrestler” if it was nominated.I guess they figured he already won for “Streets Of Philedelphia”.Idiots


These songs should have been nominated:
2010 “You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me” from Burlesque (extra nominee)
2009 “All Is Love” from Where the Wild Things Are instead of “Loin de Paname”
2008 “The Wrestler” from The Wrestler (extra nominee)
2008 “The Call” from Prince Caspian (extra nominee)
2007 “Guaranteed” from Into the Wild instead of “Happy Working Song”
2006 “Ordinary Miracle” from Charlotte’s Web instead of “Patience”
2005 “A Love That Will Never Grow Old” from Brokeback Mountain (extra nominee)
2004 “Million Voices” from Hotel Rwanda instead of “Learn to be Lonely” 2002 “Something To Talk About” from About a Boy instead of “Burn It Blue”
2001 “Come What May” from Moulin Rouge! instead of “There You’ll Be”


Shark/#12 — Yes! The pop ballad “Pop” was perfectly 80’s; but “Way Back Into Love” was actually a nice, little song about “music and lyrics”. How’d the Academy miss that?!?

My beef has been Mick Jagger’s Alfie soundtrack omission — “Old Habits Die Hard”.

And I hate admitting it; but Miley Cyrus should have had a nomination for “The Climb” for The Hannah Montana Movie (there goes all of my credibillity buy it is a good song) OR her song from Bolt, “I Thought I Lost You”.


You’re wrong about 2004 in 2 ways. First, the song is called “Learn to Be Lonely” and second, it didn’t win the Oscar. A Spanish song won sung by Antonio Banderas on the show.


I know this list is about the last 10 years, but I’ve always thought that one of the most glaring snubs has been Madonna. Yes, that Madonna who gave us the horribly sung, out of range drivel that did win an Oscar from Evita. Her own songs have been much, much better – namely ‘This Used To Be My Playground’, ‘Into the Groove’ and ‘Beautiful Stranger’. She should have at least been nominated. I don’t recall all of the nominees in those years, but I’m sure there were three from any Disney film and at least one Newman snoozer in there.


I’m still pissed “Pop! Goes My Heart” and “Way Back Into Love” from Music & Lyrics weren’t nominated.


As a music fan long before I was a cinephile, I have stronger opinions about the music categories than any other Oscars. With that in mind, I’m glad to see this essay and that I agree with most of it. (Including the worth of the pimp song, though “Travelin’ Thru” was awfully good too.) My most serious disagreement (really a partial disagreement) has to do with the 2003 nominees; with only a single uptempo nominee (“Belleville Rendezvous”), the cumulative effect of all those slow ones played one after another on the show–even as good as most of them were individually–was absolutely deadly. Breaking the monotony would have been a good enough reason by itself to have nominated “School of Rock”.

For several years now on the IMDb’s “Classic Film” bulletin board, I’ve helped run a game called “Fixing the Oscars.” (That would be “fixing” as in “repairing”; i.e., determining what should have won/been nominated for the Oscars.) So far we’ve only made it up to 2007. I’m happy to report that we Fixers included four of your 10 choices–the songs from School of Rock, I Heart Huckabees, Brokeback Mountain and Into the Wild–among our nominations, along with an additional song from the latter film (“Rise”) and an alternate song from About a Boy (“Something to Talk About”). We only retained two of your negative choices–the U2 and Counting Crows songs–as well as the other two songs from Enchanted, and replaced Randy Newman’s song from Cars with Sheryl Crow’s livelier one.

Other songs from 2000-2007 beloved by the Fixers but not recognized at the real Oscars were:

“O Kazakhstan” (Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan–there’s a certain prankish streak among the Fixers, which also shows itself with some of the other selections below)

“You Know My Name” (Casino Royale–Chris Cornell gives us the hardest-rocking James Bond song since “Live and Let Die”)

“Can’t Fight the Moonlight” (Coyote Ugly–how’d the Oscars miss this Diane Warren song?)

“Here’s to Love” (Down with Love–a duet by the leads of Moulin Rouge! and Chicago written by Marc Shaiman)

“Scotty Doesn’t Know” (EuroTrip)

“Lucky Manuelo” (Everybody’s Famous!)

“Lyra” (The Golden Compass–wonder if any other moviemakers will get Kate Bush to write something for them)

“So Long & Thanks for All the Fish” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

“Million Voices” (Hotel Rwanda–yay, Wyclef Jean!)

“Ghost of Love” (Inland Empire–written and sung by David Lynch himself)

“Ghanan Ghanan” & “Mitwa” (Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India–and we voted for these A. R. Rahman tunes before anyone had heard of Slumdog Millionaire)

“Ma memoire sale” (Love Songs)

“If I Apologised” (MirrorMask)

“Sexo con amor” (Sexo con amor)

“Itsumo nando-demo” a.k.a. “Always with Me” (Spirited Away–our 2001 song winner)

“Here to Stay” (24 Hour Party People–New Order rules!)

“Let’s Duet” and “Walk Hard” (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story)

Finally, I wonder if Vampire Weekend’s “Cousins”–which kicks off The Kids Are All Right–qualifies for a song Oscar? The single came out barely a month before the movie’s Sundance debut.

Joseph Chastain

The number one pick of yours wasn’t nominated because it wasn’t ELIGIBLE, it had been written for Romeo+Juliet and wasn’t used, thus the academy disqualified it.

i have to agree with some of the above statements. Miss Misery was a masterpiece of pop and should have beaten out that crap song from Titanic, and “In The Deep”: is a much better song that the 3 six Mafia song that beat it out.

Of course considering I actually LOVED Crash take that as you will.


Nice but you guys missed the biggest travesty of all. I present to you 1997….

Not only was Good Will Hunting screwed by Titanic for Best Picture that year but the Canadian queen of beige, Céline Dion, managed to wrestle the statute from Elliott Smith! If “My Heart Will Go On” had one ounce of the emotional resinance that “Miss Misery” has I wouldn’t be as upset. A pox on you Oscar!!!

Peter Knegt

@beechtree: fixed!
@Frank: I totally agree with you and it’s been noted.
@shagsadam: I agree with you but this is only covering the past ten years.
@Joseph Chastain: that is already clearly noted.. a few other songs listed were also disqualified for a variety of noted reasons.
@RobT: thanks so much for that list.. “Lyra,” “Something to Talk About,” “Million Voices,” and “O Kazakhstan” were all at one point on this one too…. and as much as I’d love it, I have a feeling “Cousins” won’t qualify.

Dan Mirvish

Nice list, but on a slightly tangent, I would argue that Oscar’s biggest musical snub was the elimination of the entire Best Original Musical category in 2005. What? Never heard of it? Then check out this mini-doc I made called “How to Win an Oscar Award”:

Too bad – “Burlesque” might have made an interesting entry into that category, not having originated from a stage play. Oh well.


While you got a great idea here, Peter, for my money history will show that the end of Western Civilization began when “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp” won best song at the Oscars in 2006…and it didn’t even make your list!


Dolly Parton’s “Travelin’ Through” from Transamerica should have beaten Three 6 Mafia that year.That was a total travesty.


I agree on A LOT of these, except for your slight of Jai Ho’s win (the non PCD version is still fantastic to this day) and the nomination for “So Close.” I actually thought if there was only ONE song to be nominated from Enchanted, it should’ve been that one


This is a pretty terrible list, with the Team America example being just about the only one I agree with.

The Three 6 Mafia “song” was shite even by rap standards – I’m pretty sure it’s harder out there for the hookers than any pimp. Jai Ho was a rare upbeat song winner and Bollywood no less, whereas The Wrestler was a typical snoozer ballad that Springsteen and others have done before. And sure Come What May was great, but not original like every other song in the movie. Why not mention all those, since they good excluded too?

You seem to be focusing on the songs you like, rather than accepting that this category is about how a song marries to the movie.


Yeah, why didn’t “Guarenteed” get nominated ?! I always assumed it had, given that it won the Golden Globe…


three 7 mafia? definitely three 6…

one of the more memorable oscar moments of all time, so let’s get that one right!

otherwise, excellent article on this sad sad category.

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