Here's why Disney sensation 'We Don't Talk About Bruno' isn't an Oscar nominee
Encanto (2021 movie)
"We Don't Talk About Bruno" is the most successful Disney song in years — but is it going to win an Oscar? No, no, no.
The catchiest song in Disney's recent animated film Encanto implores the viewer not to talk about Bruno — but for the past few weeks, that's all anyone has wanted to do. "We Don't Talk About Bruno" has unexpectedly become Disney's highest-performing song on the Billboard charts since Pocahontas' "Colors of the Wind" in 1995, meaning it outperformed even Frozen's world-conquering "Let It Go."
Fan renditions and dance homages to "We Don't Talk About Bruno" are all over TikTok and other social media platforms. The song's playful subversion of the classic Disney archetype of the "villain song" — with every other character singing about their fear of the precognitive Bruno (John Leguizamo) instead of him speaking for himself — has proved popular, as has its multiple performances by different singers and rappers. There's lots of room to riff.
But though Encanto scored three Oscar nominations on Tuesday morning, "We Don't Talk About Bruno" is not among the candidates for Best Original Song. Why is that?
For one thing, it's up to the studio to submit songs to the Academy for awards consideration, and Disney opted to only submit the Spanish language ballad "Dos Oruguitas" from Encanto. The smash success of "We Don't Talk About Bruno" was not quite apparent yet when that decision was made, but also the choice fits with decades of Disney Oscar strategy.
Animated Disney musicals require both poppy earworms and emotional ballads, but when it comes to the Oscars, the studio prefers to focus on its serious fare. Just look at the list of Disney's Best Original Song winners: "Colors of the Wind," the titular theme from Beauty and the Beast, "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King, and "A Whole New World" from Aladdin were all submitted and honored above catchier, more humorous songs from their films.
The exception that makes the rule is The Little Mermaid, which kicked off the so-called "Disney Renaissance" back in 1989. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken won the Oscar that year for "Under the Sea" (which Ashman was able to accept in person about a year before dying of complications from AIDS). "Part of Your World," now generally regarded as one of the greatest Disney ballads ever made, wasn't even nominated.
"Dos Oruguitas" is special in its own way. If it wins, it will be Disney's first non-English language winner for Best Original Song, and Encanto directors Jared Bush and Byron Howard have noted that it's integral to the film's storytelling.
"'Dos Oruguitas' was so central to the emotional theme of the movie," Howard told The New York Times of why the song was submitted for Oscar consideration. "It's probably the most critical bit of musical storytelling in the whole film because it has to do with the history of the family and Mirabel understanding her grandmother." Plus, as the Times notes, submitting multiple songs could have risked the possibility of splitting votes.
Plus, "Dos Oruguitas" wins, it will also secure the prestigious EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) for composer Lin-Manuel Miranda. The last Disney film Miranda wrote the music for, Moana, was up for Best Original Song in 2016, but lost to La La Land.
Check out the full list of Oscar nominations here.