Over the weekend I watched the Oscars and I was wondering what process is followed to determine the winner from the nominations for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

I can see from Wikipedia the requirements and rules for an Oscar nomination. It doesn't mention about how the winner is determined.

What are the rules followed to decide a winner from the nominations for the Academy Award for Best Original Song?

  • @downvoter Please mention the reason
    – Ram
    Feb 25, 2015 at 22:16
  • I did not downvote, but this question is about the selection process for Academy Awards, not about any musical performances that were involved.
    – user3169
    Feb 25, 2015 at 22:49
  • 3
    @user3169 I think the selection process for the Best song would involve rating/analyzing the music/lyrics composed for each song so I asked. I am not sure about the process.
    – Ram
    Feb 25, 2015 at 23:39

2 Answers 2


The nominees are chosen by the Music branch of the Academy. The final voting for the award, however, is done by all the members of the Academy. (oscars.org)

There are no specific criteria for voting. Each member subjectively votes for the song that they like the best.

The Best Original Song Award goes to the songwriters, not the performers (unless they participated in writing the song). In order for a song to be eligible, it must be an original song written just for the movie. If a movie musical is based on a Broadway musical, none of the songs from the Broadway version are eligible. This is why movie musicals almost always have a new song in them that was not in the original musical. Songs that rely on sampled material are also ineligible. The song must have a "clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition (not necessarily visually presented) of both lyrics and melody, used in the body of the motion picture or as the first music cue in the end credits." Under the current rules, a single movie may have no more than two songs nominated. (Wikipedia)

Ties in voting at the Oscars are possible. When this happens, two Oscars are given. This has happened before in other categories, but has never happened for Best Original Song. (oscars.org - PDF)

  • 1
    There is only one bullet point here that actually answers the question - the next to last one. Perhaps it should be emphasized. Feb 27, 2015 at 14:12
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    @AvnerShahar-Kashtan I rearranged the answer. Better? Feb 27, 2015 at 15:03

From this article: http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/oscar3.htm

Edited down to remove content not applying to best original song.

If a producer or distributor would like their eligible film to be considered for an Oscar nomination, they must submit an Official Screen Credits form. This form lists the production credits for all related Oscar categories. The Academy collects these forms and lists the submitted films in the "Reminder List of Eligible Releases." In January, the Academy mails a nomination ballot and a copy of the "Reminder List" to each Academy member.

For most of the award categories, only Academy members in that particular field are allowed to vote for nominees (that is, only directors submit nominations for best director and only editors submit nominations for best editor).

An Academy member can select five nominees per category, ranked in order of preference. For most categories, voters write in only the film title. Producers often take out ads in Variety and other major movie industry magazines to suggest nominees for particular categories.

Academy members typically have a couple of weeks to submit their choices for nominees. Once the ballots are in, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers tabulates the nominee ballot votes in secrecy. Soon after, the Academy announces the nominees in an early morning press conference at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills.

A week or so later, the Academy mails final ballots to all Academy members. Members have two weeks to return the ballots, and then the "polls" are closed. PricewaterhouseCoopers tabulates the votes in absolute secrecy and seals the results.

  • Thanks for the answer. Only the last paragraph quoted is related to my actual question and its not very clear about how the winners are decided from the nominees.
    – Ram
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:17
  • Yeah, that's fair. I realized that but thought the entire process should be in the answer for good context. What extra information are you looking for about how the winners are decided from the nominees? Confirmation that it's whoever gets the most votes from Academy members on the final ballots? The nomination section in the wikipedia article has a little more detail, but doesn't explicitly mention majority rules. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academy_Awards
    – tarun
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:19
  • Like for nominees it mentioned that only Academy members in that particular field are allowed to vote for winners its not very clear and what happens if two get the same votes etc
    – Ram
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:23
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    Ah, gotcha. That is a very good question - hopefully someone else can dig up more!
    – tarun
    Feb 25, 2015 at 21:24

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