José González's "Step Out," an original song that's been all over the promotional materials for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and very likely the best thing about the movie, will not be eligible for the best song Oscar race, because of one of the category's strict rules.
"Step Out," co-written by composer Theodore Shapiro and performed by González, has been a persistent presence in the movie's many trailers. (Save for that first one which exclusively used Of Monsters and Men's "Dirty Paws.") And yet, the song is the second song played in the end credits, taking it out of the running. According to the Academy's rules: "An original song consists of words and music, both of which are original and written specifically for the motion picture. There must be a clearly audible, intelligible, substantive rendition (not necessarily visually presented) of both lyric and melody, used in the body of the motion picture or as the first music cue in the end credits." Another song performed by González for the film is still in the race, however: "Stay Alive," which plays right as the credits begin.
This follows another prominently placed (in one way or another) song that's not finding its way into the race: "Please Mr. Kennedy," that spoof ditty in the middle of Inside Llewyn Davis. Why? According to a story in The Hollywood Reporter it was disqualified because it was adapted from a song of the same name from the period. In an interview with us, T Bone Burnett explained that the original song, which he called a "prototype" was about Vietnam. For the movie, the song was re-envisioned to be about space—"we thought we could make some great space noises," Burnett said—and ended up being a collaboration between Burnett, Justin Timberlake (who plays the song in the film), and the Coens.
These disqualifications really take some of the wind out of the Best Original Song Oscar race. You've still got Lana Del Rey's contribution to The Great Gatsby, of course, and U2's to Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. And in our opinion it's probably going to be hard for any song to take the offerings from Disney's Frozen, specifically the Idina Menzel ballad "Let it Go."