The Oscars just weren’t feeling this Disney release.
No other studio had as much cause to celebrate in 2019 as Disney. The House of Mouse had a record-breaking year at the box office, bringing in more than $11 billion worldwide. That total, of course, results from the combined success of Marvel, Star Wars, Disney animation, and the studio’s live-action remakes. And we’re not even counting all the profits made from the Disney+ launch.
So going into the 2020 Oscar nominations, Disney had a lot of chances to earn some love. True, commercial success doesn’t always translate into prestigious accolades such as the Academy Awards. But if any studio would be able to cross over, it’s Disney, right? While the company did get some Oscar nods in 2020, one glaring omission stands out.
Several Disney movies could get Oscars
To be fair, not all Disney movies had an even shake at winning Oscar nominations. The studio may appear to have a bottomless budget, but it chose to campaign only for certain films. Due to a number of factors, Disney opted not to mount awards campaigns for Captain Marvel, Dumbo, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.
Those first two make a ton of sense, as the studio has more promising Marvel Studios releases and live-action remakes to pin its awards hopes on. Yet, even without studio support, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil scored a Makeup and Hairstyling nod. Meanwhile, the latest Star Wars film — the final in the Skywalker saga — earned three nominations, including one for John Williams’ score.
Of the five Disney did push for, all but one received at least a single nomination. Avengers: Endgame and The Lion King made Best Visual Effects, along with Star Wars. Both Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2 got Best Original Song nods, with the former — but shockingly not the latter — making it into Best Animated Feature as well.
Only Aladdin failed to get an Oscar nomination, one which it deserved.
‘Aladdin’ missed out on a Best Original Song nod
The Guy Ritchie-directed Aladdin might mostly play like a live-action restaging of the 1992 animated classic. However, original composer Alan Menken teamed with Oscar-winning songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (La La Land) to create a new song. This new addition, “Speechless,” finally presents Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott) with her own signature tune.
Not only does “Speechless” give Jasmine’s character a bit more agency, its melody plays into Aladdin‘s score. In one fell swoop, Jasmine has her own empowering anthem, one which gives her character — literally and figuratively — a voice. During the film’s third act, Scott launches into the chorus, and the Aladdin remake, for a moment, feels alive.
Yet, “Speechless” ironically wound up drowned out by so many other cinematic tunes. When the academy revealed its Best Original Song nominees, Scott’s big moment was nowhere to be found.
Which song nominee will win big at the Oscars?
Perhaps Oscar voters were just overwhelmed by all the Disney contenders this year. The Aladdin song was one of five from the studio’s releases to make the pre-nomination shortlist. Neither “Spirit” nor “Never Too Late” from The Lion King made the cut.
Instead, here are the nominees up for Best Original Song:
- “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” from Toy Story 4
- “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman
- “I’m Standing With You” from Breakthrough
- “Into the Unknown” from Frozen 2
- “Stand Up” from Harriet
Following its Golden Globe win, the Rocketman song is the easy frontrunner. Its victory would give past Oscar winner Elton John and longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin their first Academy Award together. Will Oscar voters be able to let Frozen 2 go though, especially after the movie missed out on a Best Animated Feature nod?
We’ll find out when the 92nd Academy Awards air on ABC on Feb. 9, 2020.