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How Bruce Springsteen got shut out of the Oscar nominations

January 22, 2009 |  1:00 pm

While there were 49 songs contending for a place at this year's Oscars, only three were nominated — two tunes from "Slumdog Millionaire" and Peter Gabriel's "Down to Earth" that played over the closing credits of "Wall-E."


That meant a surprising snub of previous Oscar champ Bruce Springsteen, who just won the Golden Globe for the title track to "The Wrestler." Bruce Springsteen won at the Academy Awards in 1993 for the song "Streets of Philadelphia" from the film "Philadelphia." And he was nominated two years later for the title song of "Dead Man Walking," but lost to "Colors of the Wind" from "Pocahontas."

So how did he not make it into the final race this year? The Oscars' Rule Sixteen sets out the criteria for winnowing the list of eligible songs down to the final nominees. There was no need for the executive committee of the music branch to recommend that there be only three nominees as the number of songs far exceeded the threshold of 25 that might have triggered such action.

Unlike other branches — such as acting, which uses a preferential ballot — the music makers screen clips of all the eligible entries and then score them on a sliding scale from 6 to 10 with half point increments in between. If a member has a song in contention, they are ineligible to vote. Only those songs that score an average of at least 8.25 out of 10 among the participating music branch members are eligible to be nominated.

Since there were only three nominees this year, we know that they were the only ones to make this cut-off score. Even if Springsteen's song scored 8/10 from everyone voting, the academy has ruled that this would not be enough to merit an Oscar nomination.


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Photo: Columbia Records

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