One of the Oscar nominees for Best Original Song has been disqualified, as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences discovered that the song’s writer and former Academy governor, Bruce Broughton, had broken the rules by making Academy members known of his submission. Broughton was nominated as a writer of the hymnal song “Alone Yet Not Alone” from the film of the same name.
“The decision was prompted by the discovery that Broughton, a former Governor and current Music Branch executive committee member, had emailed members of the branch to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period,” the Academy said in a statement.
“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,” said Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy president, in the press release.
“I’m devastated. I indulged in the simplest grassroots campaign and it went against me when the song started getting attention. I got taken down by competition that had months of promotion and advertising behind them. I simply asked people to find the song and consider it,” Broughton said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.
The Academy said that it will not replace the song with another submission. The remaining songs competing for the award include Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O’s “Moon Song” from Her, “Let It Go” from Frozen, and “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.
Alone Yet Not Alone is based on a novel, which is based on a true story, about a devoutly religious family of frontier settlers in Pennsylvania during the French and Indian War. When the family is attacked by a Native American tribe, they use their faith to get through their hardships. The film will come out in limited release in June.
The Hollywood Reporter combed the archives and only found seven other instances in which nominees were disqualified from the Oscar voting process. Another notable incident involving music was the Best Dramatic Score nomination for The Godfather being removed because composer Nino Rota used pieces of an earlier score he had written for another movie in The Godfather’s music.
The New York Times pointed out that this is particularly harsh treatment from the Academy, which has pardoned improper campaign tactics before. In 2010, it was found that one of the producers of The Hurt Locker had been lobbying against competing picture Avatar. That producer was not allowed to attend the ceremony, but The Hurt Locker remained in the running and won Best Picture, the first film ever directed by a woman to do so.
The Hollywood Reporter also said that multiple people involved with the other 70 songs that were deemed eligible for the award are frustrated that the Academy has chosen not to nominate another competitor. In the past when contenders were disqualified, the Academy replaced the slot with another nominee.
Ballots have not yet been distributed to Oscar voters, most of which vote online anyway. The Academy didn’t say why it chose not to pick a replacement for “Alone Yet Not Alone.”
The final round of Oscar voting begins on February 14, and the awards ceremony will be held on March 2.
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