The 14 Oscar nominations Alex North received for his film scores between 1952 and 1985 make him one of the most-recognized composers in academy history, but also one of the most overlooked, as all of his outings were unsuccessful. He did, however, earn the organization’s esteem in 1986 as the recipient of an honorary Oscar – the first given to an artist in his music field. Now, the academy’s board of governors have chosen to fill in another blank space by making Diane Warren the first songwriter on their list of honorary awardees. After 13 unfortunate Best Original Song losses, the time has finally come for the perennial contender to have her day in the sun.
Along with Michael J. Fox, Euzhan Palcy, and Peter Weir, Warren is set to be honored at the upcoming 13th annual Governors Awards. The 65-year-old has earned this accolade because her “music and lyrics have magnified the emotional impact of countless motion pictures and inspired generations of musical artists.” Having contributed songs to more than 140 feature films over the last four decades, she has made a name for herself as one of the industry’s most prolific and indelible creatives.
Warren, who grew up in Los Angeles dreaming of music stardom, established her still-intact publishing company, Realsongs, in 1987. That same year, she co-wrote “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” to be performed by Starship in the romantic comedy film “Mannequin.” The song became her first of nine to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart and then brought her her first Oscar nomination (shared with Albert Hammond) in 1988.
Warren’s subsequent dozen Oscar bids came for “Because You Loved Me” (“Up Close & Personal,” 1997), “How Do I Live” (“Con Air,” 1998), “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (“Armageddon,” 1999), “Music of My Heart” (“Music of the Heart,” 2000), “There You’ll Be” (“Pearl Harbor,” 2002), “Grateful” (“Beyond the Lights,” 2015), “Til It Happens to You” (“The Hunting Ground,” 2016), “Stand Up for Something” (“Marshall,” 2018), “I’ll Fight” (“RBG,” 2019), “I’m Standing with You” (“Breakthrough,” 2020), “Io sì (Seen)” (“The Life Ahead,” 2021), and “Somehow You Do” (“Four Good Days,” 2022). Her 2016, 2018, and 2021 nominations were shared with Lady Gaga, Common, and Laura Pausini, respectively.
Other films that have utilized Warren’s original tunes include “Ghostbusters” (1984), “The Prince of Egypt” (1998), and “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012). A total of 52 of her songs have placed within the Billboard Weekly Top 40, including five recorded by Michael Bolton, four by Celine Dion, and three each by Cher and Chicago. Among the prizes she has received prior to this special Academy Award are a Grammy (Best Song Written for Visual Media, “Because You Loved Me”) and a Primetime Emmy (Best Original Music and Lyrics, “Til It Happens to You”).
An honorary Oscar is given “to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the academy.” At least one of these awards has been conferred during or prior to all but 10 of the 94 Oscars ceremonies. Since 2009, they have been presented at an individual ceremony that takes place several months before the same year’s Oscars. Warren and her fellow honorees will collect their trophies on November 19, 2022.
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