Academy Awards 2016: Who Will Win Best Original Song?

Mike Wood | February 26, 2016 3:04 pm

We’ve done some tricky math — okay, there was very little math involved, just some deep pondering and four glasses of wine (see, we had to count) — to examine the Academy Award nominees for Best Original Song. Our very non-algebraic formula has worked for three years running, and once again we’re going out on a proverbial limb to correctly predict a winner ahead of the Oscars this Sunday (February 28).

Without further ado, the nominees for Best Original Song are:

“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
Music and Lyrics The Weeknd, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio

“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
Music by J. Ralph; Lyrics by Antony Hegarty

“Simple Song #3” from Youth
Music and Lyrics by David Lang

“Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground
Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga

“Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre
Music and Lyrics by Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes

For those of you old enough to recall, Diane Warren has been nominated seven times prior to this year, dating all the way back to 1987 for a movie called Mannequin about a department store dummy that comes to life in the form of Kim Cattrall (seriously, Google it). Well, this year, for her eighth nomination, Warren ratchets up the gravitas (which speaks to voters) and she could actually — finally — win. Sure, she’s got to share the nomination and the award with Lady Gaga (her first Oscar nod), but the haunting “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground is the song to beat in this year’s race.

For some perspective, there are only two repeat nominees from the Golden Globes (back in January): “Simple Song #3,” from the well-received film Youth, is both sweeping and gorgeous in its classical, operatic flair, and boasts Jane Fonda and Michael Caine among its stars. But we’re pretty sure award-winning composer and nominee David Lang will have to take the nomination as his award. (Heck, he’s already got a Pulitzer). This year’s Golden Globe winner, “Writing’s On The Wall,” from the James Bond flick Spectre, has Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes vying for a second win of this awards season (although it’s their first Oscar nom). But we think, at best, Smith and Napes will find themselves in a tug-of-war with Ms. Warren and Gaga for the golden little guy come Sunday.

Snubbed by the Academy this year (and thought to be a sentimental sure-thing after Paul Walker’s death) was “See You Again” from Furious 7. The aging Oscar voters probably never saw the first installment of the series, let alone the seventh, so they never got the memo about action-movie, in-memoriam honorees.

The other two nominees this year are “Earned It” from Fifty Shades Of Grey and “Manta Ray” from Racing To Extinction. Interestingly enough, there was another Fifty Shades song on the Golden Globes’ list of nominees last month (“Love Me Like You Do”) but the song swap-out does little for this Shades song’s chances. “Manta Ray” is an absolutely lovely song, but it’s quite somber, and it’s from such a little-seen film. [Editor’s note: Read the gripping write-up on why Antony will not be attending the Academy Awards.] So it really makes this year’s contest: Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes versus and Gaga and Warren.

Who Could Win:
If there was ever an upset, it would be “Earned It,”, but we don’t think the Academy is hip enough to the musical musings of these joint nominees. So it’s Sam Smith’s and Jimmy Napes’ to lose to “Til It Happens to You.”

Who Should Win:
Warren deserves a damn statue already — it’s been 28 years! Plus, given its powerful message and resolute lyrics, the emotionally-charged “Til It Happens to You” is just what the Academy looks for when it’s handing out statues.

Who Will Win:
“Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground. Set aside the fact that Diane Warren has been snubbed for almost 30 years, and the song still wins. The Academy desperately needs to remain relevant with younger generations — which this song speaks to — and if you add the youth appeal of Lady Gaga (her Liza-Minnelli-inspired outfit from Super Bowl 50 notwithstanding) this duo represents both old-school and new, and should be a lock for the golden statue.

Who do you think will win in the Best Original Song category this year? Let us know in the comments below.