Among the 70 tunes this year eligible for Oscar consideration in the category of Best Original Song are 10 from documentary features. Each hopes to follow in the footsteps of Melissa Etheridge‘s “I Need to Wake Up,” the “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006) track that was the first Best Original Song Oscar winner from a documentary.
Since Etheridge’s victory, five original tunes from documentaries have earned nominations: J. Ralph‘s “Before My Time” from “Chasing Ice” (2012); Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond‘s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” (2014); J. Ralph and Anohni‘s “Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction” (2015); Diane Warren and Lady Gaga‘s “‘Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground” (2015); and J. Ralph and Sting‘s “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story” (2016). None of those tracks triumphed.
While none of this year’s 10 eligible tunes from documentaries scored Best Original Song bids at the Golden Globes, they and their composers, including several past Oscar winners and nominees, are surely not to be underestimated moving forward.
Eying returns to the ceremony are three-time Oscar winners Alan & Marilyn Bergman and Oscar winner Dave Grusin, who together composed “Just Getting Started” for the Carl Reiner documentary “If You’re Not in the Obit, Eat Breakfast.” The Bergmans’ last Oscar appearance was more than two decades ago, with a Best Original Song bid for “Moonlight” from “Sabrina” (1995), while Grusin last earned a nomination in Best Original Score for “The Firm” (1993).
“An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the sequel to the 2006 feature, which follows former Vice President Al Gore on his continued mission to raise awareness around climate change, hopes to achieve the same Best Original Song success as its predecessor. This time, it’s the tune “Truth to Power,” composed by Oscar winner T. Bone Burnett and Ryan Tedder and performed by One Republic.
Eight-time Oscar nominee Diane Warren also hopes to return to the category with “Prayers for This World” from “Cries from Syria,” a documentary about the Syrian Civil War. Performing the tune is Oscar winner Cher.
“City of Ghosts,” another Syria-focused feature, is also a Best Original Song contender with “Broken Wing,” composed by Al-Dimashqia, Jackson Greenberg, Wasfi Massarani and H. Scott Salinas and performed by Massarani.
The tune “Jump” from “Step,” a documentary capturing the senior year of a Baltimore high school’s all-girl step team, has already achieved some awards season success, having picked up the Critics’ Choice Awards’ prize for Best Song in a Documentary. It is composed by Laura Karpman, Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson.
Grammy-winning rock star Pat Benatar could earn her first Oscar nomination with “Dancing Through the Wreckage,” composed for “Served Like a Girl,” a documentary following five female veterans as they make the transition from active duty to civilian life. The song is composed by Benatar, Grammy nominee Linda Perry and Benatar’s husband, guitarist Neil Giraldo.
There is also “Tell Me How Long” from “Chasing Coral,” a feature following a team of divers, scientists and photographers as they investigate the disappearance of coral reefs. The tune, composed by Teddy Geiger and Dan Romer, is performed by actress Kristen Bell.
The Oscar-themed documentary “And the Winner Isn’t,” which explores what it takes to earn a golden statue, has the original tune “U.N.I. (You and I).” It is written by Geoffrey Moore, son of the late actor Roger Moore, and Nigel Martinez.
“Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story,” which focuses on the Austrian actress and inventor, has the original song “She,” composed by singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou.
And the title track from “Tickling Giants,” tracing the career of Egyptian heart surgeon-turned-political satirist Baseem Youssef, is eligible for Oscar consideration. It is composed by Sara Taksler and Paul Tyan.
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