There are usually a couple of modest surprises among the Oscar nominations, but this year had a real head-scratcher: the Best Original Song nod for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” from the little-seen, Christian-themed movie of the same name. It beat out more likely contenders from Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey, despite the fact that many people, industry insiders included, had never heard of the film, much less seen it. (It played in nine theaters last fall—“mostly in Texas and Tennessee,” The Week reported—for one week, and boasts a cast of unknowns.)
The reason for the nomination seemed a little dubious at the time: Bruce Broughton, the man behind the music for “Alone Yet Not Alone,” is a former head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ music branch. And as Deadline reported, William Ross, who conducted last year’s ceremony and is set to do so again this year, composed the film’s score.
But in a rare move by the Academy, “Alone Yet Not Alone” has now been cast aside, disqualified from the category. In a statement yesterday, the Academy announced that Broughton personally solicited votes from some of the members of the branch via email.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said, “No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage.” There will be no replacement nominee.
This isn’t a first in Oscar history—as noted in the Hollywood Reporter, seven other nominations have been revoked (including Best Original Dramatic Score for The Godfather, after it was decided that the Nino Rota composition contained elements from a prior score, for Fortunella). Only one film or individual has been disqualified after actually winning an Oscar: the documentary Young Americans, from 1967, which was found to have screened the year prior (the runner-up, Journey Into Self, was subsequently awarded).
The disqualification likely puts the period piece about two young girls who manage to survive abduction by Native Americans in the 1700s through the power of Christian faith back on the path to obscurity. (For what it’s worth, Rick Santorum endorses it.) But if you were looking forward to seeing the song performed at an awards ceremony, fear not: “Oscar may not want it,” but if you’re lucky enough to be in attendance at the Movieguide Faith & Values Awards Gala on Feb. 7, you’ll hear the “banned Christian song” sung by Joni Eareckson Tada.