‘Barbie’, ‘The Color Purple,’ and ‘Flora and Son’ Lead Shortlists for Best Original Song and Score Oscars

“Barbie” marks the first time three songs from one film make this shortlist; Diane Warren turns up for her 15th go at the Oscar

Ryan Gosling as Ken in "Barbie" (Warner Bros)
Ryan Gosling as Ken in "Barbie" (Warner Bros)

Apparently, three songs were Kenough for the Academy’s song branch, as the Greta Gerwig-directed juggernaut continues its hot streak in awards season. It became the first film since the shortlists were instituted in 2018 to land three songs on the shortlist with “What Was I Made For?” (written by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell) “I’m Just Ken” (Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt) and “Dance the Night” (Dua Lipa, Ronson, Wyatt and Caroline Ailin). Under current Academy rules, only two of these can ascend to fill out the final five nominees, which will be announced on Jan. 23, 2024.

Two other films landed a pair of songs on the shortlist, with “Flora and Son” making the list with “High Life” and “Meet in the Middle” (the latter song co-written by actors Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and “The Color Purple” making it with “Keep It Movin’” and “Superpower (I).”

Honorary Oscar-winner Diane Warren remains in the running for her 15th nomination as a songwriter, making the shortlist with “The Fire Inside,” her contribution to the film “Flamin’ Hot.” She was also eligible for her song “Gonna Be You” from “80 for Brady,” but it was not shortlisted.

John Williams received a nomination for scoring “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” which if nominated, would give the veteran composer his 54th Oscar nod. He is already the most-nominated living person.

Netflix’s “American Symphony” is the only documentary to end up in both score and song shortlist categories, in a rare showing for a nonfiction film (though several have earned Best Original Song nods and even wins, notably Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need to Wake Up” from “An Inconvenient Truth”.)

The films that ended up slotted in both music categories include “Barbie,” “The Color Purple,” “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” and most surprisingly, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which not only recognized the late Robbie Robertson but also the original song “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)”, the moving, hopeful rallying cry heard in the conclusion of the picture.

Some notable omissions in the duo categories included Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “Wish” (recognized in neither category), and “Peaches,” from the “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” Oscar-winner Bruce Springsteen was eligible for a new song from “She Came to Me,” but that film received little attention and the song didn’t make the shortlist.

Below are the final score/song shortlists under consideration:

Fifteen scores will advance in the Original Score category for the 96th Academy Awards.  One hundred forty-eight scores were eligible in the category.  Members of the Music Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

The scores, listed in alphabetical order by film title, are:

“American Fiction”
“American Symphony”
“The Boy and the Heron”
“The Color Purple”
“The Holdovers”
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”
“Killers of the Flower Moon”
“Poor Things”
“Society of the Snow”
“Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”
“The Zone of Interest”

Fifteen songs will advance in the Original Song category for the 96th Academy Awards.  Ninety-four songs were eligible in the category.  Members of the Music Branch vote to determine the shortlist and the nominees.

The original songs, along with the motion picture in which each song is featured, are listed below in alphabetical order by film title:

“It Never Went Away” from “American Symphony”
“Dear Alien (Who Art In Heaven)” from “Asteroid City”
“Dance The Night” from “Barbie”
“I’m Just Ken” from “Barbie”
“What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie”
“Keep It Movin’” from “The Color Purple”
“Superpower (I)” from “The Color Purple”
“The Fire Inside” from “Flamin’ Hot”
“High Life” from “Flora and Son”
“Meet in The Middle” from “Flora and Son”
“Can’t Catch Me Now” from “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes”
“Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” from “Killers of the Flower Moon”
“Quiet Eyes” from “Past Lives”
“Road To Freedom” from “Rustin”
“Am I Dreaming” from “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”

Steve Pond contributed to this report.

See the other shortlists here:

Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short

Best International Feature Film

Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound

Best Animated Short, Best Live Action Short


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