Oscar Circuit: Original Song, Most Competitive Category of the Techs

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And with that, we’re off to the races with the precursors. The National Board of Review, New York Film Critics Circle and Los Angeles Film Critics Association weighed in with their winners, choosing “Manchester by the Sea,” “La La Land” and “Moonlight” respectively. The acting races have revealed themselves to be quite competitive, with Best Actress being the talk of the pundits. To be honest, if we’re looking at the second most competitive category this year, it’s Original Song.

On the surface, the internet chatter has written off the category as a “done deal” for one of Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” numbers – more particularly “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” – or any from Disney’s “Moana,” specifically “How Far I’ll Go.”  Breaking it down, there’s so much more to offer.

This past weekend, Justin Timberlake made himself available for a Pizza Party with press, guild members and their children to talk about his hit number “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from DreamWorks’ “Trolls.” Awards Circuit freelancer Mike Phelps was on the scene to get some of Timberlake’s thoughts on his involvement on the film.

“The whole idea of our movie was to find your happy place,” Timberlake said. “The idea is you don’t need anything or anyone to give you confidence, to make you feel good about yourself, or to make you happy and content. For me, I think the most powerful thing in the world is music. That’s a pretty good example of a happy place for me. So we wrote a song about songs, and how they make you feel. Certain songs mean something to you because they bring back memories. When a good song comes on that makes you feel that way, you just can’t stop it,” he explained.

This is a video of Timberlake singing “True Colors” for a 5-year-old that requested it during the Q&A:

Timberlake’s number seems to fall in line with other past Oscar nominees in this category like Pharrell Williams, when his chart-topper “Happy” was nominated from the animated film “Despicable Me 2.”

Timberlake shared, “When I was pitched for the movie, ‘True Colors’ was already picked for the moment in the film you see it in. They referenced wanting to do re-workings of all these classic pop songs. And then Jeffrey (Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation) said, ‘Yeah, we just want you to write a great big hit.’ And I start sweating immediately. Because that’s always the wrong way to go about writing anything.”  

Timberlake rose to the challenge. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 charts and still remains in the Top 20 after 29 weeks. So where can Timberlake land on the Oscar chart?

Distributor 20th Century Fox will have their hands full on the song front. They’ll be juggling the talents of Timberlake, Pharrell Williams and Lorraine Feather, who has been campaigning heavily for “The Rules Don’t Apply” from the Warren Beatty film of the same name. She received a Critics’ Choice nomination last week, which is already a step in the right direction.

hiddenfiguresIn terms of Pharrell, he’ll have two numbers to support from his film “Hidden Figures,” for which he is also a credit producer. Both songs – “I See Victory” and “Runnin'” – are important parts to the film, catchy and timely. Being passed over by the BFCA wasn’t the start the studio wanted, but the Golden Globes are expected to respond accordingly.

Grammy- and Academy Award-winning songwriter Common is back in the fray with “A Letter to the Free” from Ava DuVernay’s masterful “13th” from Netflix. Netflix is also giving a concentrated push to “Flicker” from “Audrie & Daisy,” and two numbers from “The Little Prince” – “Equation” and “Turnaround” – both co-composed by Oscar winner Hans Zimmer.

Warner Bros. has two low-key numbers that could make some noise as well. Clint Eastwood’s “Sully” is one of the few sure-fire Oscar contenders to cross $100 million, so perhaps that can help “Flying Home (Theme from “Sully”),” which was co-written by Eastwood himself. The other number is “Moonshine” from Ben Affleck’s “Live By Night,” which could surprisingly factor in.

Sausage Party” is still being given the good ole college try by Sony Pictures with its hilarious number “The Great Beyond,” which would make Seth Rogen an Academy Award nominee. Sony is also giving a friendly push to their other animated hopeful, “The Angry Birds Movie,” which has the song “Friends” as a possibility.

Grammy winner Sia is in the mix with “Angel by the Wings” from the Documentary Feature hopeful “The Eagle Huntress,” while Alicia Keys is attempting to make some waves with “Back to Life” from Disney’s “Queen of Katwe.” Disney is also making efforts with “Try Everything” from “Zootopia,” something that could get carried in with its almost assured Animated Feature nomination.

There’s also love for the songs from “Sing” – in particular “Faith” – while the Weinstein Company is giving a push for both “Drive It Like You Stole It” from “Sing Street” and “Never Give Up” from “Lion.”

Oscar Predictions have been updated in all categories. You can see them via the sidebar or go to the “OSCAR PREDICTIONS” page and click through each category individually.

CHECK OUT OTHER CATEGORIES:

PICTURE |DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS |SUPPORTING ACTOR |SUPPORTING ACTRESS |ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY |ADAPTED SCREENPLAY |ANIMATED FEATURE |PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT

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Clayton Davis is the esteemed Editor and Owner of AwardsCircuit.com. Born in Bronx, NY to a Puerto Rican mother and Black father, he’s been criticizing film and television for over a decade. Clayton is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to the awards season, the Critics Choice Awards. He also founded the Latino Entertainment Journalists Association, the first Latino-based critics’ organization in the United States. He’s also an active member of the African-American Film Critics Association, New York Film Critics Online, International Press Academy, Black Reel Awards, and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association. Clayton has been quoted and appeared in various outlets that include The New York Times, CNN.com, Variety, Deadline, Los Angeles Times, FOX 5, Bloomberg Television, AOL, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Radio, The Wrap, Slash Film, and the Hollywood Reporter.