From Christianity Today (1/17/14)
A Hollywood nod to a Christian film has come as a shock to the entertainment world, as the song “Alone Yet Not Alone” (from the movie by the same name) was nominated for an Oscar.
The song beat out Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and Lana Del Ray to join the other four nominees for best original song: Frozen’s “Let it Go”; U2’s “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; Pharrell Williams’s “Happy” from Despicable Me 2; and Karen O’s “The Moon Song” from Her.
What’s more surprising, however, may be the person who performed the song in the end credits: Joni Eareckson Tada, quadriplegic Christian author and speaker, and one of CT’s “50 Women You Should Know.” (A video of Tada singing the song is below.)
The Los Angeles Times reports the song may have been nominated because it played a crucial, recurring role in the film. Bruce Broughton, a winner of multiple Emmy awards and a previous Oscar nominee (Silverado), was one of the composers.
Broughton also is a previous music branch governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as a chair of the music branch. (Deadline claims Broughton made phone calls to his connections within the academy to consider the song). William Ross, composer of the film’s score, has been a past music director for the Academy Awards as well.
Vanity Fair interviewed Broughton, who said, “I am not known as a songwriter—most composers don’t get a chance to write songs. Because it is a faith-based film, it is probably the first one of its sort to get a nomination. And because it is for my song, it is particularly sweet.”
The nomination has received negative reactions not for its quality, but for the film’s endorsements by James Dobson, Rick Santorum, and Josh Dugger, executive director of Family Resource Council Action, among others. Film.com framed the movie as endorsed by “anti-gay hate group activists,” while the Boston Globeheadline reads, “The Oscar nomination that stinks to heaven.” Hitflix writes: “There were audible gasps and chuckles when Cheryl Boone Isaacs began reading the list of nominees in the category, and first off the bat was “Alone Yet Not Alone” from, er, Alone Yet Not Alone…It doesn’t seem a stretch to call this Christian drama the most obscure feature film nominated for an Oscar this year.”
But Ken Wales, one of the producers of the film, told CT that the nomination comes “by the grace of God,” and that regardless of the outcome, “to God be the glory.” Wales, who also produced Amazing Grace—the acclaimed film about William Wilberforce—as well as Christy—a mid-90s TV show—said the song will be performed live during the March 2 Academy Awards event.
In 2010, CT discussed Alone Yet Not Alone as a film that “recognizes the power of hymns,” specifically in reference to the Oscar-nominated song. The film will be released in theaters nationwide this June.
CT also interviewed Tada and her husband about their marriage following the release of the couple’s book, Joni and Ken: An Untold Love Story.
Additional reporting by CT editor-at-large Mark Moring.
Below is a video of Tada performing the Oscar-nominated song: