2020 Oscar Circuit: Best Original Song

1

Welcome to our annual Oscar Look series, formally known as “Oscar Circuit” – our deep dive look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Look. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your own predicted winners in the comment section too!

And the Nominees are:

  • “Breakthrough” (I’m Standing With You)
  • “Frozen II” (Into the Unknown)
  • “Harriet” (Stand Up)
  • “Rocketman” (I’m Gonna Love Me Again)
  • “Toy Story 4” (I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away)

NOMINEE BREAKDOWN

Breakthrough

Nominees: Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren
Song: “I’m Standing With You”

Diane Warren is going to win an Oscar one day. Could an upset for “Breakthrough” do it for her? An eleven time nominee, Warren is as overdue for an Academy Award as anyone in the industry. “I’m Standing With You” is a quality song that would make a fine Best Original Song winner, but it’s fair to wonder how much the movie itself will be an issue. A Christian film isn’t inherently what voters seek out, so it’s easily the least seen of the contenders. Those who pay attention to just the music or are cognizant of Warren’s story will give this one a fair shake. However, that doesn’t seem like enough to put this one over the top, barring a surprise.

Frozen II

Nominees: Music and Lyrics by Kristen Lopez-Anderson and Robert Anderson
Song: “Into the Unknown”

Frozen” songwriters Kristen Lopez-Anderson and Robert Anderson return. After winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Let It Go,” they hope to do it again with “Into the Unknown.” This time, however, they’re hardly the frontrunners. In fact, this is the only nomination that “Frozen II” received. So, it’s hard to see how the duo emerges victorious this time around. The Academy clearly was less fond of the sequel than the original, so there’s zero urgency to again reward Lopez-Anderson and Anderson. Oscar voters will settle for once again watching Idina Menzel perform during the ceremony. That will more than be enough for them. This song is stuck in the middle of the road, category wise, and will not emerge victorious.

Harriet

Nominees: Music and Lyrics by Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo
Song: “Stand Up”

In an interesting twist, Cynthia Erivo is not just nominated for her performance in “Harriet,” but also for this song as well. One of only two contenders here up for awards in other categories, as well as the most “important’ of the lot, there are reasons to look at this as a solid Original Song contender. On the flip side, though, Erivo is not going to win Best Actress, arguably having barely made the lineup. So, there isn’t any extra fuel there to help “Stand Up” get those extra votes. Had she been someone seen as due or especially in need of an Oscar right here and right now, that could have tipped things in her favor. Voters may have seen Erivo and co-writer Joshuah Brian Campbell as their traditional pick. Instead, this seems destined for a third or fourth place finish, before fading largely from memory, give or take a memorable performance on stage by Erivo.

Rocketman

Nominees: Music by Elton John and Lyrics by Bernie Taupin
Song: “I’m Gonna Love Me Again”

Once the Golden Globes gave “Rocketman” this award, the stage was set. When Elton John and Bernie Taupin announced that this was the first time that they’d won anything together, that basically sealed the deal. A moment that meant a lot to both men also will galvanize Academy members. Throw in the fact that John will be performing the song on stage, after having done so with star Taron Egerton (as they’ve done notably on a few other occasions) and “I’m Gonna Love Me Again” seems nearly unbeatable. If there’s a weakness, it’s that Egerton and the film itself were snubbed elsewhere. A little more Oscar love overall for the movie would have 100% sealed the deal. As it stands, this is still far and away the clear frontrunner in Best Original Song.

Toy Story 4

Nominees: Music and Lyrics by Randy Newman
Song: “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away”

Another animated nominee, this one again finds Randy Newman cited for a Pixar original tune. “Toy Story 4” marks the 22nd nomination (coming together with his Best Original Score citation this year for “Marriage Story“) overall for the two time winner. This marks the ninth time he’s been nominated for a Pixar work, including his two wins. So, Oscar loves Newman when he’s working with Animation. Combine that with the flick also being the frontrunner in Best Animated Feature and there’s an interesting candidacy here. That being said, “I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away” is the lightest and most throwaway of the nominees, making a win almost impossible to see. The peripherals are favorable to it, but a look deeper almost immediately eliminates it from serious contention.


Overall, this does seem fairly clear cut. “Rocketman” will almost certainly win, barring a big upset. The combination of catchy song, starry names attached, and irresistible narrative will power John and Taupin to the finish line. Anything else would be a major surprise, though if that happens, look for the Academy to finally put an Oscar in Warren’s hands. Otherwise, it’ll be another year’s wait for her, which is what you should be banking on.

WILL WIN: “Rocketman” (I’m Gonna Love Me Again)

POTENTIAL SHOCKER: “Breakthrough” (I’m Standing With You)

SHOULD WIN: “Rocketman” (I’m Gonna Love Me Again)

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: “Cats” (Beautiful Ghosts) and “Frozen II” (The Next Right Step)

Which tune do you expect to win the Academy Award for “Best Original Song”? Let us know in the comments below!