Round up the usual suspects. The insular Academy music branch is known for leaning into their regulars (see 12-time nominee Diane Warren’s shortlisted song for Sundance indie “Four Good Days”) as well as unexpected surprises (Amazon’s shortlisted Idina Menzel song “Dream Girl” from “Cinderella”). Needless to say, Menzel has been to the Oscars before, belting out “Let It Go,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’ Oscar winner from “Frozen.”
The Academy music branch also tends to fall for global pop stars who might turn up to perform at the Oscar kudocast. Inevitably, music stars scored shortlist slots, including for the second year in a row H.E.R., who sings “Automatic Woman” in Halle Berry’s directorial debut “Bruised” (Netflix). Another Netflix contender is Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi’s “Just Look Up” from “Don’t Look Up.” Ireland’s two-time song nominees Bono and U2 (“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” “The Hands that Built America” from “Gangs of New York”) wrote and performed “Your Song Saved My Life” from animated entry “Sing 2″ (Illumination/Universal), which marked a major set piece in the animated musical sequel.
Vying for his first nomination is Northern Ireland’s Van Morrison, who supplied an entire soundtrack of hits for Kenneth Branagh’s ’60s film memoir “Belfast” (Focus Features), but wrote the original “Down to Joy” to open the movie. (The anti-vaxxer many not be welcome at the Oscars.) Also looking for her first nod is Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, who delivered “Be Alive” with Dixson for “King Richard” (Warner Bros.), which hasn’t been setting music charts on fire. Also Oscar newbies are the Sparks Brothers, who created “So May We Start” for Leos Carax’ musical “Annette” (Amazon), and Beach Boy Brian Wilson, who scored a shortlist slot for “Right Where I Belong” for the documentary “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road.”
Meanwhile Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”), who may not land her second Best Actress nod for playing Aretha Franklin in “Respect,” could win a consolation prize for her song “Here I Am (Singing My Way Home),” written with Jamie Alexander Hartman and Carole King.
Animated musicals always land a song or two, including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto” (Disney), which also landed in Best Score. Another musical landed a slot for the Amandla Stenberg heart-tugger “The Anonymous Ones,” a new song added to the Broadway movie musical “Dear Evan Hansen” (Universal).
And among the surprise shortlist entries is “Beyond the Shore,” sung by British breakout Emilia Jones in Sundance prize-winner “CODA” (Apple TV+).
Eighty-four songs were eligible in the Original Song category, but only the 15 shortlisted advance to nominations voting for the 94th Academy Awards. Members of the Music Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.
Oscar contenders are listed in alphabetical order. No one will be deemed a frontrunner unless I have seen the movie.
“Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto”
“Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)” from “Respect”
“No Time To Die” from “No Time to Die” Billie Eilish
“Right Where I Belong” from “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road”“
Your Song Saved My Life” from “Sing 2”
“The Anonymous Ones” from “Dear Evan Hansen”
“Automatic Woman” from “Bruised”
“Be Alive” from “King Richard”
“Beyond The Shore” from “CODA”
“Down To Joy” from “Belfast”
“Dream Girl” from “Cinderella”
“Guns Go Bang” from “The Harder They Fall”
“Just Look Up” from “Don’t Look Up”
“So May We Start?” from “Annette”
“Somehow You Do” from “Four Good Days”