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The music branch of the Academy often leans into pop stars in this category, partly because the members want to see stars like last year’s winner, Elton John for “Rocketman,” sing their original songs on the Oscar stage. But that may not be possible in this pandemic year. Voters also go for hit songs from Disney musicals, like Idina Menzel’s Oscar-winning “Let It Go” juggernaut from animated juggernaut “Frozen.″
This year’s entries include “Loyal Brave True” from Disney live-action remake of the musical “Mulan,” while this year’s pop star contingent includes eight-time Grammy nominee Janelle Monáe (“Turntables,” from the election documentary “All In: The Fight for Democracy”) and eleven-time Grammy winner John Legend, who landed two songs from Netflix movies, “Make It Work,” sung by Forest Whitaker in the Netflix musical fantasy “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” and “Never Break” from the August Wilson documentary “Giving Voice.”
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This year’s current frontrunner is “Hamilton” Tony and Grammy winner and rookie Oscar contender Leslie Odom, Jr., who could follow Cynthia Erivo (“Harriet”) and Mary J. Blige (“Mudbound”) as a dual Oscar nominee for songwriting and acting, for the song “Speak Now” from Regina King’s “One Night in Miami,” where he plays soul icon Sam Cooke.
Scoring both Globe and Critics Choice nods was Oscar bridesmaid Diane Warren’s “Io Si (Seen)” from Edoardo Ponti’s Italian heart-tugger “The Life Ahead” (Netflix), starring his mother Sophia Loren. Warren also landed a second song on the shortlist, “Free,” from Disney+’s “The One and Only Ivan.” Last year’s “I’m Standing with You,” sung by Chrissy Metz in the film “Breakthrough,” marked Warren’s 11th nomination. She has never won.
Potential Oscar contenders are listed in alphabetical order. No film will be considered a frontrunner unless I have seen it.
“Húsavík,” written by Savan Kotecha, Rickard Goransson, Fat Max Gsus (“Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” Netflix)
“Io Si (Seen),” written by Diane Warren (“The Life Ahead,” Netflix)
“Speak Now,” written by Leslie Odom, Jr. and Sam Ashworth (“One Night in Miami,” Amazon Studios)
“Turntables,” written by Janelle Monáe, Nathaniel Irvin III, George “George 2.0.” A. Peters II (“All In: The Fight for Democracy,” Amazon Studios)
“Wuhan Flu,” written by Sacha Baron Cohen, Erran Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines (“Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” Amazon Studios)
“Fight for You,” written by H.E.R., Dernst Emile II, Tiara Thomas (“Judas and the Black Messiah,” Warner Bros.)
“Loyal Brave True,” written by Jamie Hartman, Harry Gregson-Williams, Rosi Golan, Billy Crabtree (“Mulan,” Disney+)
“Rain Song,” written by Emile Mosseri (“Minari,” A24)
“See What You’ve Done,” written by Mary J. Blige, Nova Wav, DJ Camper (documentary “Belly of the Beast,” Independent Lens)
“Make It Work,” written by John Legend (“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,” Netflix)
“Free,” written by Diane Warren (“The One and Only Ivan,” Disney+)
“Green,” written by Abraham Marder (“Sound of Metal,” Amazon Studios)
“Hear My Voice,” written by Daniel Pemberton and Celeste (“The Trial of the Chicago 7,” Netflix)
“Never Break,” written by John Legend, Nasri Atweh, Benjamin Hudson McIldowie, Greg Wells (“Giving Voice,” Netflix)
“Show Me Your Soul!” written by Robert Glasper and Muhammad Ayers, Performed by Lalah Hathaway (“Mr. Soul!,” PBS)
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