The 94th annual Academy Awards telecast in March got off to a strong start, with Beyoncé singing her best original song contender, “Be Alive,” from King Richard on the tennis courts where Venus and Serena Williams practiced as children. Depending on how the 2023 Oscar nominations shake out, the producers of next year’s telecast just might be able to book an opening number with comparable star power.
When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences reveals its shortlists of 15 contenders for best original song and best original score (as well as 10 other categories) on Dec. 21, Rihanna is a strong contender for “Lift Me Up,” which she co-wrote for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. So are Doja Cat for “Vegas” (Elvis), Taylor Swift for “Carolina” (Where the Crawdads Sing) and Lady Gaga for “Hold My Hand” — the last of which could be in contention along with fellow Top Gun: Maverick song “I Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic. If Gaga’s power ballad and OneRepublic’s joy bomb both make the shortlist, it will mark the first time that two songs from the same film have done so since 2019, when two tracks from the reboot of The Lion King made the cut.
Nominations-round voting is open Jan. 12-17, 2023. Nominations will be announced Jan. 24. Final-round voting is open March 2-7. The awards will air March 12 on ABC. Expect the shortlists for best original song and best original score to look something like this.
2023 Grammy Nominations: The Complete List
“Lift Me Up” Ryan Coogler, Ludwig Göransson, Rihanna, Tems Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Marvel
“All the Stars” from the original Black Panther was nominated in this category four years ago. Coogler directed and co-wrote both Black Panther and this sequel. The four co-writers could hardly be more international: Coogler was born in the United States, Göransson in Sweden, Rihanna in Barbados and Tems in Nigeria.
“Vegas” Rogét Chahayed, Doja Cat, David Sprecher Elvis, Warner Bros.
The academy’s music committee will determine whether this song, which borrows heavily from the 1950s classic “Hound Dog” is eligible. (Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote the Elvis Presley hit, would not be.) Incredibly, no song from a movie Presley starred in was ever nominated for best original song.
“This Is a Life” David Byrne, Ryan Lott, Mitski Everything Everywhere All at Once, A24
Byrne won an Oscar 35 years ago for best original score for The Last Emperor. Lott is a member of the trio Son Lux, which performs this song, with backing by Byrne and Mitski. This would be the first Oscar nod for both Lott and Mitski.
“Turn Up the Sunshine” Jack Antonoff, Patrik Berger, Sam Dew, Kevin Parker Minions: The Rise of Gru, Illumination/Universal Pictures
This would be the first Oscar nomination for all four songwriters. The Antonoff-produced soundtrack consists mostly of contemporary artists covering ’60s and ’70s songs. It also includes new tunes such as this one, recorded by Diana Ross and featuring the Parker-led Tame Impala.
“Naatu Naatu” M. M. Keeravani RRR, Variance Films
This Indian Telugu-language song would be the first foreign-language track to win this category since “Jai Ho,” the festive Hindi song from Slumdog Millionaire that took the prize 14 years ago. The scene in which it appears was filmed at the Ukraine Presidential Palace in Kyiv a few months before the Russian invasion.
“My Mind & Me” Amy Allen, Jonathan Bellion, Selena Gomez, Jordan K. Johnson, Stefan Johnson, Michael Pollack Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me, Apple Original Films
This documentary was directed by Alek Keshishian, who also directed Madonna: Truth or Dare, as well as such music videos as Gomez’s “Hands to Myself.” The film follows Gomez on a six-year journey that has included both health challenges and professional successes, among them her first Emmy and Grammy nods.
“Do a Little Good” Benj Pasek, Justin Paul Spirited, Apple Original Films
Pasek and Paul have been nominated three times in this category, with two songs from La La Land and one from The Greatest Showman. They have no shortage of contenders this year — this song and “Good Afternoon” from Spirited, as well as two others from Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.
“Applause” Diane Warren Tell It Like a Woman, Samuel Goldwyn Films
With this song, Warren vies for her 14th nomination in this category. She would be the first songwriter or songwriting team to be nominated six years running since Marilyn and Alan Bergman’s 1968-73 streak. Warren will receive a Governors Award from the academy on Nov. 19.
D’Mile won in this category two years ago with “Fight for You” from Judas and the Black Messiah. If he triumphs again, he would become the first Black songwriter to win this award twice. Sullivan won her first two Grammys in April, for best R&B album and best R&B performance.
“Hold My Hand” BloodPop (Michael Tucker), Lady Gaga Top Gun: Maverick, Paramount Pictures
This would be Gaga’s third nod in this category following “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground (2015) and “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (2018), which took the award. “Take My Breath Away” from the original Top Gun won the 1986 award in this category.
“I Ain’t Worried” Ryan Tedder, Brent Kutzle, Tyler Spry, John Eriksson Top Gun: Maverick, Paramount Pictures
The Oscars’ music committee will determine whether this is eligible. “I Ain’t Worried” borrows elements from “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John. The writers of that 2006 song (Björn Yttling and Peter Morén) would not be eligible.
“Nobody Like U” Billie Eilish, Finneas O’Connell Turning Red, Pixar
The siblings are the reigning champs in this category for the title song from No Time To Die. “Nobody Like U” is performed in the animated Turning Red by the fictional boy band 4*Town, which O’Connell helped voice. The film was written, directed and produced entirely by women.
“Dust & Ash” J. Ralph The Voice of Dust and Ash, Matilda Productions
This would be Ralph’s fourth nod in this category following “Before My Time” from Chasing Ice (2012), “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction (2015) and “The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story (2016). Ralph and Norah Jones sing this song on the soundtrack to the documentary.
“Carolina” Taylor Swift Where the Crawdads Sing, Sony Pictures
This Appalachian folk-style ballad could result in Swift’s first Oscar nomination. She has received three Golden Globe nods (for “Safe & Sound” from The Hunger Games, “Sweeter Than Fiction” from One Chance and “Beautiful Ghosts” from Cats).
“New Body Rhumba” Pat Mahoney, James Murphy, Nancy Whang White Noise, Netflix
LCD Soundsystem recorded this song for the soundtrack of the Noah Baumbach film. Mahoney, Murphy and Whang all belong to the Brooklyn-based band, which won the best dance recording Grammy five years ago for “Tonite.” The film stars Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle.
Babylon (Paramount Pictures) Justin Hurwitz
Babylon is the fifth film directed by Oscar winner Damien Chazelle. Hurwitz has scored all five, including most famously La La Land, for which he won in this category six years ago. Babylon’s cast includes Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Jean Smart.
The Banshees of Inisherin (Searchlight Pictures) Carter Burwell
This would be Burwell’s third nomination in this category following Carol (2015) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017). The Banshees of Inisherin is a black comedy-drama written and directed by Martin McDonagh, who also did the honors on Three Billboards. It stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
The Batman (Warner Bros.) Michael Giacchino
This would be Giacchino’s third nomination in this category following Ratatouille (2007) and Up (2009, for which he won). The Batman, a reboot of the Batman film franchise, stars Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman alongside Zoë Kravitz.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (Marvel) Ludwig Göransson
Göransson won this honor four years ago for the original Black Panther. Should he do so for this sequel, he’ll become the second composer to win for two installments of the same franchise. Howard Shore did the same for two films in the Lord of the Rings franchise.
Empire of Light (Searchlight Pictures) Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross
Reznor and Ross are two-time category winners for The Social Network (2010) and Soul (2020, which they won in tandem with Jon Batiste). Should they win again, they’ll become the first composer or composing team to win three scoring Oscars in this century.
Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) Son Lux
The band, consisting of Rafiq Bhatia, Ian Chang and Ryan Lott, composed the music for the science fiction/action film that was written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. They produced it with siblings Anthony and Joseph Russo.
The Fabelmans (Universal Pictures) John Williams
This would be Williams’ record-extending 48th nomination in a scoring category. Moreover, it would give him scoring nods in seven consecutive decades. If he wins, Williams, 90, would surpass James Ivory as the oldest Oscar honoree — Ivory was 89 when he won best adapted screenplay for Call Me by Your Name.
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio (Netflix) Alexandre Desplat
Desplat won for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) and The Shape of Water (2017). Should he win again, he’ll tie the late Maurice Jarre as the Frenchman with the most scoring Oscars. Jarre won for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India.
A Man Named Otto (Sony Pictures) Thomas Newman
Newman is vying for his 15th nomination in a scoring category. He’s tied with the late Alex North for the most nods in this category without a competitive win. If Newman is nominated again and loses, he’ll hold the record outright.
The Son (Sony Pictures Classics) Hans Zimmer
Zimmer is the reigning category champ, having won in March for Dune. Should he win for The Son, he’ll become the first composer to take home back-to-back scoring awards since Gustavo Santaolalla, who won with Brokeback Mountain (2005) and Babel (2006). Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern star.
Strange World (Walt Disney Animation) Henry Jackman
This film marked Jackman’s third collaboration with director Don Hall, following Winnie the Pooh and Big Hero 6, and his fifth feature-length score for Walt Disney Animation. The film features the voices of Jake Gyllenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Gabrielle Union and Lucy Liu.
TÁR (Focus Features) Hildur Guðnadóttir
This would be the second scoring nod for Hildur, who won three years ago for Joker. The Icelandic composer would become just the third woman to receive multiple nominations in this category following the late Angela Morley (who had two nods) and Rachel Portman (who has had three).
White Noise (Netflix) Danny Elfman
This would be Elfman’s fifth nomination in a scoring category following Good Will Hunting and Men in Black (both in 1997), Big Fish (2003) and Milk (2008). White Noise is a black comedy written and directed by Noah Baumbach, adapted from the 1985 novel of the same name by Don DeLillo.
The Woman King (Sony Pictures) Terence Blanchard
This would be Blanchard’s third nomination in this category, which would tie Quincy Jones for the most scoring nods ever by a Black composer. Jones was nominated for In Cold Blood, The Wiz and The Color Purple — he has yet to win.
Women Talking (MGM/United Artists Releasing) Hildur Guðnadóttir
Hildur is vying to become the sixth composer to have two films on the shortlist in this category since 2018, when the academy began making its shortlists public. She would follow Alan Silvestri (2018), Nicholas Britell (2018), Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (2020), Hans Zimmer (2021) and Jonny Greenwood (2021).
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