At the seventh Oscar ceremony in 1934, the academy introduced three new categories: Best Film Editing, Best Original Score and Best Original Song. The latter race had a mere three nominees that first year, with “The Continental,” performed by the incomparable Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in “The Gay Divorcee,” taking home the inaugural prize. Over the years to follow, the category would balloon in size, reaching a chaotic all-time high of 14 nominees at the 1945 Oscars, before contracting down to the five nominees seen in the vast majority of years since.
The category has produced a remarkable variety of Academy Awards winners, from the timeless likes of “Over the Rainbow” from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) and “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961) to bold, contemporary fare like “Lose Yourself” from “8 Mile” (2002) and “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” from “Hustle & Flow” (2005). There are the beloved champions from animated features too, from “When You Wish Upon a Star” from “Pinocchio” (1940) to the most recent Best Original Song winner, “Remember Me” from “Coco” (2017).
A category often rife with controversy, Best Original Song has also produced more than its fair share of head-scratching snubs, with classics like “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) and “Theme from ‘New York, New York,'” from “New York, New York” (1977), not to mention the entire “Saturday Night Fever” (1977) soundtrack, among others, curiously absent on Oscar nominations morning.
Over the coming months, join us as we look back with a celebration of all 84 years of Best Original Song at the Oscars.
We’ll reflect on every winner and nominee, plus all of those jaw-dropping snubs, and, in revisiting all of the contenders, determine what really deserved to emerge triumphant on the big night. In the end, this journey will produce a ranked list of all 84 winners, from the all-time greatest Best Original Song champion to the winner that most leaves us dumbfounded.
Come along for what will undoubtedly be a fun and fascinating adventure through Oscar history!