After 13 nominations, Diane Warren finally gets her Oscar

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Diane Warren was in the recording studio with Sofia Carson working on her new song “Applause” when she received an unexpected phone call earlier this year. It was David Rubin, former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and he had good news: She got an Oscar.


what you need to know

  • Diane Warren will accept her statuette of honor at the annual Governors Awards on Saturday
  • Warren was nominated 13 times for Best Original Song at the Oscars
  • Warren will accept her statuette of honor at Saturday’s annual Governors Awards along with fellow honorees Euzhan Palcy, Peter Weir and Michael J. Fox
  • She is the first songwriter to ever receive this award

“I thought, ‘No, I’m not. I’m the one who loses all the time,” Warren said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “I was totally incredulous.”

The prolific songwriter had been nominated 13 times for Best Original Song at the Oscars. And 13 times she had gone home empty-handed, most recently at the ceremony earlier this year. However, Warren, 66, was never alarmed or put off by that statistic. She loved being in the game. But she had begun to wonder if she would ever get one.

Warren will accept her statuette of honor on Saturday at the annual Governors Awards along with fellow recipients Euzhan Palcy, Peter Weir and Michael J. Fox, who receives the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She is the first songwriter to ever receive this award.

“This is the big Oscar,” she said. “And I still want to win one. But the nomination is the victory. These aren’t the Grammys with 50 song categories. There are five songs in a category. Hearing your name when they say those nominations? It’s like winning the lottery every time.”

When she was first nominated for the song “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” which she co-wrote with Albert Hammond for the movie Mannequin, Warren didn’t hear her name called. She didn’t even know nominations were happening. There were no campaign events or demonstrations. It just seemed to come out of nowhere.

“That was before,” she laughs. “Now I stay up all night. I’m too uncool to go to sleep and not give in like—-. I’m just very uncool. And I stay up all night glad to be uncool.”

Warren developed a passion for the power of song in film at an early age. She recalled “crying her eyes out” when she heard the song by John Barry and Don Black for “Born Free” and was moved by Mark London’s song for “To Sir with Love”.

“You moved me deeply,” she says. “Music doesn’t go into the brain. It goes to your heart. And you combine that with the right film? It’s powerful.”

In other words, it was a natural fit to her wildly successful career. Some of her more famous Oscar-nominated songs include “Because You Loved Me” from Up Close and Personal, “How Do I Live” from “Con Air” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from “Armageddon.” And she’s had a nomination almost every year since 2015.

And while she loves every Academy Awards, she counts Lady Gaga’s 2016 performance of her survivor anthem “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground as one of her favorite performances of all time.

“It was monumental for me,” she said. “She hit tones and I have no idea how she hit her but it was so emotional. Then when you got those survivors to stand up when people weren’t really talking about it back then? I don’t think I’ve had a better performance at the Oscars, or anywhere else.”

She also loved playing the piano at the 2020 Oscars when Laura Pausini sang “Io sì (Seen)” from The Life Ahead.

“It was incredible,” Warren said. “I had never done anything like this before.”

Above all, Warren loves the Oscars and being a part of this world. And she found it quite poignant to be called about the award while working on Applause, which is featured in the film Tell It Like a Woman and consists of seven short films directed by and about women.

The lyrics, she thought, seemed appropriate for the moment: “Give yourself some applause. You deserve it. Give yourself some respect because you deserve it. Give yourself some love because you are worth it. You’re worth it. You know, let her know.”

“How crazy is that?” Warren said. “I’m in the room playing this song and I walk into the other room because the phone is ringing and that’s it? After all these years of trying to get an Oscar, it’s like, wow, what a moment, isn’t it?”

Now she’s just trying to organize her thoughts for her speech and she’s pretty sure she’ll start crying as soon as she takes the stage on Saturday.

“It didn’t even really hit me,” Warren said. “I know it’s really going to hit me tonight. I don’t even know how to deal with it.”

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