Oscars 2016: Between Lady Gaga, Sam Smith & The Weeknd, Who Has the Best Chance of Winning?

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Lady Gaga poses in the press room during the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Jan. 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. 

The Oscar voters got real when it came to the best original song category this year. For the first time in the Academy Awards’ 88-year history, songs from two documentaries are nominated: “Til It Happens To You” (The Hunting Ground) by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga, and “Manta Ray” (Racing Extinction) by J. Ralph and Antony and the Johnsons’ Antony Hegarty.

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Rounding out the category are The Weeknd’s “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey, Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes’ “Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre and David Lang’s “Simple Song #3” from Youth.

Will this be the year that Warren, who has been nominated seven times before, finally wins? While the song’s potent message of resilience (and Gaga’s added star power) are undeniable and will definitely sway voters, only one song from a documentary has ever taken home the Oscar before: Melissa Etheridge’s “I Need To Wake Up” from An Inconvenient Truth in 2006. Regardless, voters may feel like the frequently nominated and well-liked Warren is due for an Oscar. So while it's impossible to predict anything with 100 percent certainty, the odds certainly favor Warren and Gaga at this point. 

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As for Smith, only one previous Bond theme, Adele’s “Skyfall,” has won the Oscar. His Golden Globes win for "Writing’s On The Wall" is promising, but an endorsement from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is no guarantee that the Academy cares. And given how recently Adele won for Bond, voters may be reticent to give another Oscar to the series. 

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In years past, Lang’s classical “Simple Song #3” would have appealed to the Academy’s more traditional members. But in recent times, the Academy has favored more pop-leaning tunes.

In a year where no female directors or actresses of color were nominated -- and Straight Outta Compton was largely ignored -- The Weeknd’s nomination comes as a welcome and deserving nod. But his chances will get dragged down by the overall poor critical response to Fifty Shades, which received six Razzie nominations yesterday (Jan. 13).

 

Oscars 2016