Listen to 3 Oscar Contenders for Best Original Song

One-fifth of this year's semi-finalists come from documentaries.

Toni Morrison Documentary
Magnolia Pictures

You’ve seen this year’s semi-finalists for the Oscars for Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short, but did you know that nonfiction films are also contenders in other categories this year? Among them, Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov‘s Honeyland has been shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best International Feature, thanks to its official submission from North Macedonia. Then there are three more docs represented in the Best Original Song category.

Will any of these tunes wind up with a nomination on January 13th? Going by awards season trends so far, they’re all underdogs in the race and unlikely to make the cut. But we can always remember that they earned the rare achievement of being recognized by the Academy for more than just their being documentaries. So let’s honor them here by listening and appreciating that they reached the top 15 out of 75 submissions.

“Da Bronx”

Lyrics by Paul Williams
Music by Charles Fox
Performed by Robert Klein and Donald Webber Jr.
from The Bronx, USA

This song isn’t available to hear on its own anywhere that I can find, but it does feature during the opening and closing credits of the film, which you can stream now via HBO, with Klein and Webber performing on screen.

Williams won an Oscar for “Evergreen,” the love theme from the 1976 version of A Star is Born and has been nominated five other times, three for score and twice for other songs, including “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie. Fox has been nominated in this category twice before, with the song “Richard’s Window” from The Other Side of the Mountain and “Ready to Take a Chance Again” from Foul Play.

Here’s the trailer for The Bronx, USA, though it doesn’t feature “Da Bronx”:

“High Above the Water”

Written and performed by Kathryn Bostic
from Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Below is the official music video for the song, which is by Kathryn Bostic, who also scored the documentary. Watch the whole movie, which is about and features the late author Toni Morrison and is now streaming via Hulu, and read our review here.

“Letter to My Godfather”

Written by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo
Performed by Pharrell Williams
from The Black Godfather 

Pharrell Williams was nominated for an Oscar in this category once in the past, for the song “Happy” from Despicable Me 2. He was also nominated as a producer of the historical drama Hidden Figures in the Best Picture category.

(Editor in Chief)

Christopher Campbell is the founding editor of Nonfics.