The year is 2014 and the Academy Awards nominations had a few surprises. It still seems weird that Tom Hanks didn’t receive a Best Actor nomination for “Captain Phillips,” despite turning in one of his most acclaimed performances, nor was he nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his heavily promoted turn as Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks.”
But the biggest surprise wasn’t a snub, it was a nomination for a film most audiences had never even heard of. “Alone Yet Not Alone” is a Christian historical film about three young girls who are kidnapped, forced to live among, and then ultimately escape, a tribe of Lenape in the mid-18th century. The film grossed less than a million dollars at the box office, it only has one review on Rotten Tomatoes (although it’s a favorable one), and it was not considered a major contender for any Academy Award.
So the nomination for “Alone Yet Not Alone” in the Best Original Song category — alongside songs from “Frozen,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Her,” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” — raised a few eyebrows, and also a few red flags. The Academy soon discovered that one of the songwriters, Bruce Broughton, formerly a governor and at the time a committee member in the Music Branch, had directly contacted Academy voters via email to raise awareness of his film, which is against the rules.
According to the then-Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, “No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one’s position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one’s own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage.”
The nomination was stricken, and in accordance with recent rules, no replacement nomination was made. There were only four nominees that year and rather predictably, “Let It Go” from “Frozen” won.