The original score for “Tár,” one of the year’s most acclaimed films, and “Vegas,” the popular Doja Cat song from “Elvis,” have been disqualified from Oscar consideration, Variety has learned.
Eligibility lists for songs and scores were quietly unveiled Monday morning, but only to Academy members who can access the official website. Voting began Monday to determine the 15 scores and 15 songs that will make the shortlist from which the final five nominees in each category will be chosen.
Variety has determined that 147 scores and 82 songs were entered, evaluated and declared eligible for Oscars by the Academy music branch’s executive committee. There were few surprises on either list.
The disqualification of Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s “Tár” score was widely predicted. Sources say that it was deemed ineligible because the amount of original, audible music was insufficient, and ran afoul of a second rule that “a score shall not be eligible if it has been diluted by the use of pre-existing music.”
“Tár” deals with a world-famous conductor (Cate Blanchett) preparing to conduct a Mahler symphony and an Elgar concerto with a German orchestra, and most of the audible music in the film consists of those, and other classical music excerpts. Guðnadóttir won the 2019 original score Oscar for “Joker,” making her one of only three women to win in that category.
But the loss of “Tár” from Oscar music doesn’t leave Guðnadóttir out of contention. Her score for “Women Talking” was Golden Globe-nominated Monday morning and seems likely to be on the Oscars’ shortlist when those scores are announced on Dec. 21.
“Vegas,” the Doja Cat song from “Elvis,” has been debated for months. The lead single from the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic, it was written by Doja Cat and producers Roget Chahayed and Yeti Beats, but its interpolation of the Presley classic “Hound Dog” (by Mike Stoller and the late Jerry Lieber) apparently doomed it for consideration.
Oscar rules demand that both words and music must be “original, written specifically for the motion picture” and must be the result of “creative interaction between the filmmakers and the songwriters who have been engaged to work directly on the motion picture.”
“Vegas” reached No. 10 on the Billboard charts and was the only song from “Elvis” entered for awards consideration.
Music execs at Universal and Warner Bros., the studios that released “Tar” and “Elvis,” were not immediately available for comment.
Among other high-profile movies, “Top Gun: Maverick” did qualify for the song list (Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand”) but was not on the eligible score list. Sources say that the score failed to qualify for two reasons: it fell short of the amount of original music required (a sequel “must consist of more than 80% newly composed music”) and that it was, also against the rules, “assembled from the music of more than one composer.”
The “Top Gun: Maverick” score was written by Hans Zimmer, Harold Faltermeyer (the original film’s composer), Lorne Balfe and Gaga.