Oscars’ Eligibility List for Original Song and Score Contains Few Surprises (EXCLUSIVE)

The Oscars' music branch is voting to pare down lists that include 84 songs and 136 scores, Variety has learned.

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Michael Buckner for Variety

Eighty-four songs and 136 original scores have been deemed eligible for Academy Awards consideration this year, Variety has learned.

The approximately 375 members of Oscar’s music branch began preliminary voting on Friday. Balloting ends at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Fifteen songs and 15 scores will be chosen to compete for the final five slots in each category.

The song list is considerably shorter than that of 2020, when 105 songs qualified. The number of scores is identical to last year’s, which also deemed 136 eligible for consideration.

All of the songs that have been campaigned over the past two months appear to be on the list for consideration, including talked-about entries by Van Morrison (“Belfast”), Ariana Grande (“Don’t Look Up”), Kid Cudi and Jay-Z (“The Harder They Fall”), Beyonce (“King Richard”), Billie Eilish (“No Time to Die”), Rufus Wainwright (“Rebel Hearts”), Brian Wilson (“Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road”), Jennifer Hudson (“Respect”) and U2 (“Sing 2”).

Eleven of the 84 are from documentaries, an arena that continues to attract artists concerned about social and cultural issues. “Crime on the Bayou” has Raphael Saadiq,”The First Wave” Jon Batiste (last year’s Oscar winner for the “Soul” score), “The Mustangs: America’s Wild Horses” perennial favorite (and still Oscar-less) Diane Warren and “The Rescue” Aloe Blacc.

Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda may be seeking EGOT status with a possible Oscar win, as he has entered original songs from no fewer than three of this year’s films: “Dos Oruguitas” from “Encanto,” “Home All Summer” from “In the Heights” and “Keep the Beat” from “Vivo.” Miranda’s path to EGOT could also come via his directorial debut, “Tick, Tick … Boom!”

In most cases, producers enter one or, at most, two songs from the same film, but every year there are also multiple entries from less familiar titles. This year the list includes four from “Belle,” five from “Fix” and five from “Laws of the Universe: The Age of Elohim.”

This year’s score list benefits from a rule change that now permits an original score to be listed even if it’s only 35% of the total music in the film (a substantial reduction from the 60 percent required in previous years).

Despite that, a handful of popular or talked-about films are missing from the score list: “House of Gucci,” “Licorice Pizza” and “Respect” were either not submitted or declared ineligible because of the brevity of the score compared with the songs in each.

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” and “A Quiet Place II” were either not submitted or possibly declared ineligible because they are largely based on music from previous entries in the franchises. Academy officials could not immediately be reached for specific explanations.

One unexpected entry on the eligible list is “Operation Mincemeat,” music for a World War II thriller by 15-time nominee Thomas Newman, which has not yet been theatrically released in the United States, yet would certainly be a contender considering the composer’s popularity within the music branch (and the fact that he is still without a win after more than 35 years in the business).

Another pleasant surprise is the growing number of women composers represented on this year’s score list. The Academy does not list composer or songwriter names on the ballot — only the film title and, in the case of songs, the song title as well.

Variety research indicates that 16 of the 136 eligible scores, or nearly 12%, were composed by women, which — while still woeful — marks a notable growth from other lists in recent years.

Three are among the top 100 box-office winners from the year: Germaine Franco’s “Encanto” (nominated today for a Golden Globe), Amie Doherty’s “Spirit Untamed” and Mica Levi’s “Zola.” Music by Aska Matsumiya for “Bruised,” Natalie Holt for “Fever Dream,” Isobel Waller-Bridge for “Munich: The Edge of War” and Anna Drubich for “Werewolves Within” are also among this year’s entries.

Documentaries continue to attract women composers, as indicated by six other eligible scores: Laura Forrest Hay for “Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster,” Raphaelle Thibaut for “Introducing Selma Blair,” previous Oscar winner Rachel Portman for “Julia,” Laura Karpman and Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum for “Pray Away,” Ariel Marx for “Rebel Hearts” and Kathryn Bostic for “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America.”

Academy shortlists in several categories, including those for score and song, will be announced on Dec. 21.