Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” won best original song at Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast, in a culmination of what may have been the least suspenseful race of this year’s Oscars. Gaga had performed the tune from “A Star Is Born” as a duet with Bradley Cooper a short time earlier, in a riveting performance that earned a standing ovation.
The award for “Shallow” went to Gaga and co-writers Mark Ronson, Andrew Wyatt and Anthony Rossomando.
“Bradley: there’s not a single person on the planet that could have sung this song with me but you,” said a tearful Gaga. “Thank you for believing in us. … And if you are at home and you’re sitting on your couch, and you are watching this right now, all I have to say is that this is hard work. I’ve worked hard for a long time, and … it’s not about winning. But what it’s about is not giving up. If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion, and it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down, or you’re beaten. It’s about how many times you stand up, and are brave, and you keep going.”
It was a clean sweep of the major awards this season for “Shallow,” which also won the Golden Globe, the Broadcast Film Critics Association award and the Grammy. “A Star Is Born” also won the BAFTA for original music.
Composer Ludwig Göransson won the best original score Oscar for “Black Panther.”
Göransson thanked director Ryan Coogler, recalling that 12 years ago, they were “sitting in our dorm at USC, writing the score for your first short film, and we’re here 12 years later celebrating one of the most important cinematic moments in history.” He thanked the African musicians who played on the score (including vocalist Baaba Mal) as well as the London orchestra.
The Swedish-born, L.A.-based composer won the gold for his richly detailed, African-influenced music for the Marvel movie. He spent a month in West Africa, researching and recording the drums, flutes and vocals of Senegalese musicians, which he later wove into a large-scale orchestral and choral score that was recorded in London.
“Black Panther” was Göransson’s first Oscar nomination and third collaboration with Coogler, following their indie hit “Fruitvale Station” and commercial hit “Creed.” His other films include “Venom” and “Creed II,” and he is now writing “The Mandalorian” for television.
He recently won three Grammys: one for his “Black Panther” score and two for his other life in music, as a collaborator with Childish Gambino, for record of the year and song of the year.
The “Shallow” writers were all enjoying their first nominations as well as wins, with the exception of Gaga, who received her first Oscar nomination for co-writing “Til It Happens to You” from the 2015 documentary “The Hunting Ground.” Her co-writer on that song, Diane Warren, was also nominated in this year’s song category, for her contribution to another documentary, “RBG”; it was Warren’s 10th loss over the past 31 years.
“Shallow” was the most commercially successful of the five nominated songs, reaching no. 5 on the Billboard chart.
“Shallow” was originally intended to run over the end credits of “A Star Is Born,” to tie in with a climactic scene in which Cooper was to have drowned himself in the ocean, as some of the male figures in previous incarnations of the screen story have. When a switch was made that didn’t involve such a watery denouement, the song stuck, albeit with fewer metaphorical implications — and found an even better home in multiple scenes where Gaga’s character first sings it to Cooper’s in a parking lot, then has her star-birthing moment when he invites her on stage to sing it at the Greek.
The “In Memoriam” segment had two composers who’d won for been nominated for Oscars included in the necrology — Michel Legrand (three-time Oscar winner, including the song “The Windmills of Your Mind”) and John Morris (Mel Brooks’ frequent collaborator, who was nominated for the score for “The Elephant Man” and the title song from “Blazing Saddles”). Equally notable composers Francis Lai (Oscar winner for “Love Story”) and Patrick Williams (nominee for “Breaking Away”) were conspicuous by their absence.
For the “In Memoriam” segment, Gustavo Dudamel conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a new John Williams arrangement of “Leaving Home” from “Superman.”