The Academy Awards Rescind “Alone Yet Not Alone” Oscar Nom.

Posted on January 30, 2014 · Posted in Movie News

The movies are often about an underdog achieving the seemingly impossible. That’s why, for many, the nomination of the independent, Christian film Alone Yet Not Alone for Best Original Song was an exciting development. For others, though, it was a grave disturbance, and these critics proved to be surprisingly vocal. In a shocking and unforeseen turn of events, it was announced yesterday that the Academy Awards Board of Governors voted to rescind their nomination of the song Alone Yet Not Alone.

Here is the song, performed by Joni Eareckson Tada:

The song’s composer, Academy-award nominee and former chair of the Academy music branch, Bruce Broughton, came under heavy criticism after the nomination. Some claimed that Broughton used his former position and influence with Academy members to weasel the nomination. Yet, according to a recent article, publicist Ray Costa pointed out, “If he could influence the Academy in that way, he should have got a lot more nominations over the past 30 years.” This, and other assurances, however, wasn’t enough for many, who continued to cry foul over the following days.

A press release from the Academy stated that the decision was made to avoid “the appearance of an unfair advantage… the Board of Governors may take any corrective actions or assess any penalties that in its discretion it deems necessary to protect the reputation and integrity of the awards process.”

Broughton, however, offers some insight into what happened, in an interview: “Every year there’s some off-the-wall nomination that happens- and this year it was me! … It really was grassroots. There was no campaign. Our release had been very limited. It [the film] doesn’t go wide until the middle of this year, so the chance of it being overlooked was pretty high because a lot of high profile movies from major studios are in competition. At the Academy, every branch votes for its own nominations. In the music branch, it has a couple hundred people [who] come up with the top five songs… I knew people wouldn’t know what the film was so, I wrote a letter to people that I personally knew and thought were a member of the branch to ask them to look for the song, to be aware that there’s a song there. I didn’t ask for anyone to vote for it, I just didn’t want the song to be bypassed. I had a definite eye on the Academy rules [and] was respectful of the conditions. The other songs were pretty much in the public consciousness and ours was definitely not… Everybody works the system — certainly the major marketing machines do. I told people there was a song out there but didn’t ask anyone to vote and didn’t make any phone calls or a marketing campaign. It’s sort of taken my breath away to see some of the things that have been written. Nobody can force anyone to vote for their song. Really you just hope for the best.”

Again, the claims that Alone Yet Not Alone was nominated unfairly or unethically because of Broughton’s close connection to the Academy seem a bit ridiculous when one considers that the Academy constantly nominates its own members and friends, for instance, Kathryn Bigelow was an Academy governor at the time she was nominated for Zero Dark Thirty.

As Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter notes, the Academy’s press release did not say that Broughton violated any specific rule, it spoke in very vague terms. Feinberg defends Broughton, saying: “Is sending a few emails requesting consideration for one’s contender a more egregious form of campaigning than hosting a large, lavish cocktail or supper party at which the famous singer(s) of a nominated song perform it live? I would argue that it is not. (No fewer than half of this year’s nominated songs have been promoted at events of this nature.) … does that, in itself, merit the disqualification of an Oscar nomination? (THR has been able to identify fewer than a dozen prior instances of this, none of which were the result of sins of commission, as was alleged with Broughton.) I don’t think so.”

Certainly, Hollywood may do as they wish with their awards and recognition, and there will definitely be those who agree with the decision; but is this really protecting the reputation and integrity of the Academy’s award process, or is it actually undermining it?