×

Oscar Music Shortlists: Weeknd, Selena Gomez, ‘RRR’ Songs Make the Cut; ‘Avatar,’ ‘Nope,’ ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ Scores Advance

Oscar music shortlist songs scores

It could be a star-studded musical evening at the Academy Awards come March 12, as Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Rhianna and the Weeknd are all up for best-song Oscar nominations following today’s announcement of the shortlists in music.

Fifteen songs and 15 scores from 2022 movies were selected by the 389 voting members of Oscar’s music branch, and there were few surprises in the song category. The score category made history, however, with two women and three African-American composers on the list.

The music branch will vote again in January to select five nominees in each category.

Taylor Swift could, at long last, become an Oscar nominee, for her song “Carolina” from “Where the Crawdads Sing,” and Rhianna could score with her song “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” Gaga, already an Oscar winner for “Shallow” from 2018’s “A Star Is Born,” could score again with her “Top Gun: Maverick” anthem “Hold My Hand.”

The Weeknd is a potential contender for the end-title song “Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength)” from “Avatar: The Way of Water,” as is David Byrne for “This Is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” The Weeknd would be a first-time nominee if chosen when final-round voting begins Jan. 12, while Byrne is already an Oscar winner (as co-composer of the score for 1987’s “The Last Emperor”).

Selena Gomez could make the final list for her title song for the documentary “My Mind & Me,” as could D’Mile for the song “Stand Up” from “Till” and Giveon for “Time” from “Amsterdam.”

Diane Warren, who recently won an honorary Oscar for her career of movie songwriting, is up for a competitive slot with her “Applause” from “Tell It Like a Woman.” She has made no secret of the fact that she’d like a companion statuette for her newly acquired little gold man.

Lighthearted dance numbers figure in three instances: “Naatu Naatu” from the Indian Telugu-language epic “RRR”; LCD Soundsystem’s “New Body Rhumba” from the finale of “White Noise”; and “Good Afternoon,” sung by Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds in the holiday comedy musical “Spirited,” written by past Oscar winners Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (“La La Land”) along with three other songwriters.

The touching “Ciao Papa” from “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” made the list, as did “Til You’re Home” from “A Man Called Otto” by the film’s producer, actress and songwriter Rita Wilson (a duet with Sebastián Yatra, now well known for singing “Dos Oroguitas” from “Encanto”).

Perhaps the most surprising entry on the list — and apart from the Selena Gomez entry the only other documentary cited — is “Dust & Ash” from the film “The Voice of Dust & Ash,” a duet by songwriter J. Ralph and pop-jazz star Norah Jones.

High-profile contenders that failed to make the shortlist included Billie Eilish and Finneas, last year’s Oscar winners (for the James Bond song “No Time to Die”), whose “Nobody Like U” from “Turning Red” was considered likely; “Love Is Not Love” from “Bros,” and “Ready as I’ll Never Be,” from the doc “The Return of Tanya Tucker Featuring Brandi Carlile.”

This year’s score list was a triumph of diversity. Two female composers made the list: Hildur Guðnadóttir for “Women Talking” and Chanda Dancy for “Devotion.” Dancy is one of three African-American composers on the shortlist; Michael Abels, for “Nope,” and Terence Blanchard, for “The Woman King,” are the others.

Should Dancy be nominated, she would become the first Black female composer to make the final five.

Guðnadóttir is one of five past Oscar winners to make the shortlist; the Icelandic composer won for 2019’s “Joker.” Ninety-year-old John Williams (“Jaws,” “E.T.”) is poised to earn his 53rd nomination for Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans.” Other past winners include Justin Hurwitz (“La La Land”) for “Babylon,” Ludwig Göransson (“Black Panther”) for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and Alexandre Desplat (“The Shape of Water”) for “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio.”

Five previous Oscar nominees were also cited: Volker Bertelmann (“Lion”) for the German film “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Carter Burwell (“Carol”) for “The Banshees of Inisherin,” John Powell (“How to Train Your Dragon”) for “Don’t Worry Darling,” Nicholas Britell (“Moonlight”) for “She Said” and Blanchard (“Da 5 Bloods”) for “Woman King.”

Composers hoping to earn their first Oscar nomination include Simon Franglen for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Dancy for “Devotion” and Abels for “Nope,” Nathan Johnson for “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and perhaps the most curious entry on the list, Son Lux’s music for “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”

Son Lux is a three-man experimental band (Ryan Lott, Rafiq Bhatia, Ian Chang) and Oscar rarely nominates a trio of writers for a single score — although Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross and Jon Batiste were not only nominated but won for Disney-Pixar’s “Soul” in 2020, so it wouldn’t be unprecedented.

Reznor and Ross were left off this year’s list despite two entries, “Empire of Light” and “Bones and All.” Also missing from the shortlist were Michael Giacchino for “The Batman,” Thomas Newman for “A Man Called Otto,” Danny Elfman for “White Noise” and Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch for “Living.”

The complete shortlist for original song:

“Time” from “Amsterdam”
“Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength)” from “Avatar: The Way of Water”
“Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
“This Is A Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“Ciao Papa” from “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”
“Til You’re Home” from “A Man Called Otto”
“Naatu Naatu” from “RRR”
“My Mind & Me” from “Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me”
“Good Afternoon” from “Spirited”
“Applause” from “Tell It like a Woman”
“Stand Up” from “Till”
“Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick”
“Dust & Ash” from “The Voice of Dust and Ash”
“Carolina” from “Where the Crawdads Sing”
“New Body Rhumba” from “White Noise”

The complete shortlist for original score:

“All Quiet on the Western Front”
“Avatar: The Way of Water”
“Babylon”
“The Banshees of Inisherin”
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”
“Devotion”
“Don’t Worry Darling”
“Everything Everywhere All at Once”
“The Fabelmans”
“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”
“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”
“Nope”
“She Said”
“The Woman King”
“Women Talking”