With two wins at the 2024 Grammy Awards for their Barbie heart song “What Was I Made For?,” the Oscar for Best Original Song now seems like Billie Eilish’s and Finneas’ to lose.
The song, which soundtracks a tear-inducing sequence of 2023’s biggest film, in which Barbie creator Ruth Handler (Rhea Perlman) offers Margot Robbie’s titular doll some words of wisdom as she chooses between returning to Barbie Land as a toy or being a human and experiencing everything that comes with that.
While Eilish and her brother have pretty much swept awards season with the piano-driven ballad, which is made all the more impactful by Eilish’s quietly tender and emotional delivery, they do have some competition in their Barbie counterpart, “I’m Just Ken,” (performed in the film by Ryan Gosling and written by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt), which took home the top award at the Critics Choices Awards. (Other nominees are Diane Warren for Flamin’ Hot‘s “The First Inside,” Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson’s “It Never Went Away” from American Symphony, and Scott George’s “Wahzhaze” from Killers of the Flower Moon.)
“This whole [awards season] I thought ‘What Was I Made For?’ was cemented and then there was this surprise Critics Choice Awards win, and I kind of started to love the idea of ‘I’m Just Ken’ taking it,” EW editor in chief Patrick Gomez says on the latest episode of The Awardist podcast, “but I do think this probably solidifies that that was just a fluke.”
He continues, “It’s tough. I always want to give more credit to a song that is actually performed in the film, but, while Billie is not shown on screen singing that song, that song is also a huge part of that movie in a way that’s not just in the background. It is that moment as much as the visuals are. I keep wanting to give more credit to ‘I’m Just Ken’ but I really can’t discredit ‘What Was I Made For?’ because it ultimately pretty much serves the same purpose in terms of moving a story forward.”
Also on the new episode of the Awardist podcast, Rustin star and Best Actor Oscar nominee Colman Domingo looks back on playing gay civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, who orchestrated the March on Washington but has largely been erased from history books. Domingo spent five months researching and preparing for the role — mentally, of course, but also physically, including Rustin’s elocution and the way and speed with which he spoke, which is higher-pitched than Domingo.
“He spoke with a very slight British accent of his own design… and I have a good ear for accents and dialects, and I was like, what is this dialect? Sometimes he sounded like Katharine Hepburn, other times Bette Davis, other times the Queen of England. I was like, I don’t understand what this is. Until I started to find out he made this up,” Domingo tells The Awardist. “I found out this out from a friend of his, Rochelle Horowitz, who’s featured in the film. He made it up because he understood words had power, and he had the power to articulate himself in a way to get people to listen. So I think that he was such an outlier in so many ways. He played the lute and sang Elizabethan love songs — that goes into his character. You’re like, oh my gosh, what a character to unpack. And then the challenge for me was also to make sure that he was very human and not a caricature.”
You can listen to the full conversation with Domingo on the Awardist podcast, below.
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