In one of the tightest races for best original song at the 2024 Oscars, Billie Eilish, Jon Batiste, Diane Warren, “I’m Just Ken” and surprise contender “Wahzhazhe” from Killers of the Flower Moon have emerged as the nominees for the prestigious songwriting prize.
That means a number of top-notch acts who made the shortlist, including Lenny Kravitz, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, Halle Bailey and more, didn’t make the cut.
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Eilish, who wrote “What Was I Made For?” with her brother-producer Finneas, is the leading nominee with the Barbie track. The duo won best original song at the 2022 Academy Awards for “No Time to Die” from the James Bond film of the same name. The Greta Gerwig-directed box office hit appears again with Ryan Gosling’s “I’m Just Ken,” written by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, the hitmakers who won best original song for “Shallow” from A Star is Born alongside Lady Gaga and Anthony Rossomando.
Ronson got the news while in the air Tuesday morning.
“I was actually on a plane and … I suddenly got this barrage of texts from people and at the same time, and I had a feeling it was something to do with the nomination,” he says in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “My one-year-old daughter was sleeping right next to me on the plane, so I was just like obviously holding it all inside, but it was, of course, super exciting.”
Film Academy rules only allow two songs from a movie to compete for best original song, thus pushing out Dua Lipa’s disco bop “Dance the Night,” which was one of last year’s biggest hits. All three Barbie songs, though, are nominated for multiple Grammys at the Feb. 4 show. The 2024 Oscars will air live on March 10.
Batiste — who also is an Oscar winner since he co-scored Disney’s Soul — is nominated for “It Never Went Away” from American Symphony, the Obamas-produced documentary about the singer’s rising career and his wife’s struggle with leukemia. Batiste wrote the song with Dan Wilson, whose writing credits include Adele’s “Someone Like You” and the Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice.”
Though the music category is stacked with previous winners, Warren has earned her record-breaking 15th nomination for best original song. This time it’s for “The Fire Inside” from Flamin’ Hot, which is performed by Becky G. It comes a year after the acclaimed songwriter received an honorary Academy Award.
Rounding out the five nominees is “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)” from Killers of the Flower Moon. The Native American chant, performed by Osage Tribal Singers, was written by Osage Nation music consultant and composer Scott George.
Nominees for best original score include Laura Karpman for American Fiction, John Williams for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Ludwig Göransson for Oppenheimer and Jerskin Fendrix for Poor Things. Robbie Robertson, who died last year, earned a posthumous nomination for Killers of the Flower Moon.
Music also showed up in the best documentary feature film category: Bobi Wine: The People’s President, which looks at Ugandan musician and politician Bobi Wine as he faces off with the country’s entrenched ruling class, scored a nomination.
Lesley Corral contributed to this report.
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