If “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever wins the Oscar for best original song on Sunday March 12, Ryan Coogler will become just the second person in Oscar history, and the first in 45 years, to win an Oscar for writing or co-writing a song from a film he directed. The first was Joe Brooks, who wrote “You Light Up My Life,” the 1977 winner.
Just by being nominated in this category, Coogler has joined an exclusive (and rather eclectic) club. Fourteen people have received Oscar nominations for writing or co-writing songs for films that they directed. Coogler is the first person of color to achieve the feat. Other club members include Barbra Streisand, Mel Brooks, Spike Jonze, Seth MacFarlane and Trey Parker.
Most of these people wrote the lyrics, not the melody. This suggests that the directors know what their film is trying to say, and can help put that message across in a song. Only four of the 14 – Coogler, Parker, Streisand and Brooks – contributed both music and lyrics. None solely wrote the music.
“Lift Me Up” is viewed as one of three front-runners in this year’s Oscar race for best original song, along with “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick (music and lyric by Lady Gaga and BloodPop) and “Naatu Naatu” from RRR (music by M.M. Keeravaani; lyric by Chandrabose). The other nominees are “Applause” from Tell It like a Woman (music and lyric by Diane Warren) and “This Is a Life” from Everything Everywhere All at Once (music by Ryan Lott, David Byrne and Mitski; lyric by Ryan Lott and David Byrne).
Here’s a complete list of everyone who has been nominated for best original song for writing or co-writing a song from a film they directed. The list is in reverse chronological order.
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