Last month’s announcement that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was reducing the number of songs in a film that can be submitted for the Oscar (from five to three) prompted us to take a deep dive into Oscar rules. in music categories.
The Oscars have had musical categories every year since 1934, when the elegant “The Continental” (performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers) won Best Original Song and A night of love won for scoring.
In the early years, there was no explicit rule that a song had to be written for the film in which it appeared. The poignant ballad “The Last Time I Saw Paris”, which Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote in response to the Nazi takeover of Paris in June 1940, was a hit for Kate Smith that year – the year before the film was released (lady be good) for which he won the Oscar. The requirement that a song had to be written for the film was made explicit the following year. The rules now state: “The work must be registered for use in the film before any other use, including public performance or exploitation by any media.”
In the first four years of the music category, the award was given to the film studio’s music department and its head of department. The following year, it was changed to have the film’s music composer(s) receive the award.
Here are 10 rules in music categories that might surprise you.