What the Hell Is ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ and How Is It Up for a Best Song Oscar?
Meet the 2014 Academy Awards' answer to leftfield Grammy nominee Al Walser
When the Academy Awards announced the 2014 Oscar nominees for Best Original Song, one name stood out as, well, different. U2, Karen O, Pharrell, a Disney song, and, wait — who even sings the theme song to Alone Yet Not Alone? And why does the top YouTube video for the song have fewer than 4,000 views? Well, if you’ve never heard of the movie, it turns out you’re (sorry) not alone.
As Hitfix points out, this Christian movie didn’t show up on Metacritic or Wikipedia as of its nomination, and Rotten Tomatoes didn’t list even one review. Movie revenue tracker Box Office Mojo doesn’t show data on its commercial success.
Alone Yet Not Alone came out in a limited basis last September. Production firm Enthuse Entertainment describes itself as making “God-honoring, faith-based, family-friendly films that inspire the human spirit to seek and know God.” According to MovieGuide.org, which bills itself as “the family guide to movies and entertainment,” the movie has a “very strong evangelistic Christian worldview with the Gospel presented clearly and contrasting the Christian settlers with the pagan Indians and some strong moral elements about doing the right thing.” Apparently some families still use phrases like “pagan Indians.”
The movie’s Oscar-nominated theme song, also titled “Alone Yet Not Alone,” is essentially a hymn, sung by quadriplegic evangelical Joni Eareckson Tada against a somber dollop of strings and keys. It’s, um, indie-sounding. Dennis Speigel wrote the lyrics, and Bruce Broughton composed the music. Broughton, it turns out, is not so DIY: He was the Academy’s music branch chief the year the Oscars only picked two Best Song nominees (and the winner was The Muppets). He received an Oscar Best Original Score nod for his work on 1985 Western Silverado and has won 10 Emmys, including for music from the animated Tiny Toon Adventures. The Homeward Bound movies? The Rescuers Down Under? Miracle on 34th Street? Broughton’s your guy.
That’s a pretty honorable resume for a score composer, but it still leaves some confusion as to why exactly “Alone Yet Not Alone” cracked the nominees list. You might’ve guessed the name recognition of Paul McCartney singing with the surviving Nirvana members might’ve garnered him a nod. Nope. Or, sheesh, Lana Del Rey faced attempted Oscar sabotage over her The Great Gastby song “Young and Beautiful,” which also missed the cut. And then there are Golden Globe nominees like Taylor Swift or Coldplay. According to the Academy, “Alone Yet Not Alone” is better than all of those.
It’s enough to bring to mind Al Walser, the Lichtensteinian musician who surprised everyone when he landed a Best Dance Recording nomination for the 2013 Grammys. Walser didn’t win, but the recent SPIN interviewee now has some company when it comes to recent out-of-nowhere awards nominees. Sadly, the Alone Yet Not Alone crew probably won’t show up to the ceremony wearing an astronaut suit.