Oscars 2022: Why is Encanto's We Don't Talk About Bruno not nominated?

By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

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Mirabel Madrigal in EncantoImage source, Disney
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Encanto follows the adventures of 15-year-old Mirabel Madrigal

We Don't Talk About Bruno has been delighting children and driving parents up the wall in equal measure since the release of Disney's Encanto in November. But the ridiculously catchy song will not be winning an Oscar. Why not?

Encanto is very likely to win an Academy Award next month. Despite competition from the likes of Raya and the Last Dragon and Pixar's excellent Luca, Encanto is the clear favourite to be taking home the prize for best animated feature.

Released at the tail end of 2021, the film tells the story of Mirabel Madrigal (voiced by Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Stephanie Beatriz), a young girl who is the only member of her large family not to have been blessed with a magical gift.

While her relatives have skills ranging from superhuman strength to the power to control the weather, Mirabel is a kind but ultimately regular girl, and feels slightly inferior as a result. But when the family begins losing their magic, Mirabel realises she might be the only one who can save them.

Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote eight original songs for the movie, which has been a huge hit with young viewers (and a few older ones too) since its release in late November.

Of these songs, the film's breakout hit has been the phenomenally successful We Don't Talk About Bruno. It has already been at number one for three weeks in the UK, and is currently top of the Billboard Hot 100 in the US as well.

As it's an original composition, written by Miranda specifically for the film, you would think it would stand a good chance of winning best original song at the Oscars. But it was noticeably absent from the nominations list, which was unveiled on Tuesday.

Why isn't it nominated?

Image source, Official Charts Company
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Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Stephanie Beatriz voices Mirabel in Encanto

In a nutshell, We Don't Talk About Bruno was not nominated for an Oscar because Disney didn't submit it. But the question many fans of the film are asking is, why not?

First of all, studios are allowed to submit multiple songs from the same film for consideration in the original song category - but doing so is seen as a risk. If two songs from the same film are shortlisted, they could split the Academy's vote and make a film's overall chance of a win lower.

That's not to say that it's impossible. Three songs were nominated from Beauty and the Beast in 1992 - Be Our Guest, Belle, and Beauty and the Beast - and the latter still won the prize.

However, most studios decide to pick one single song and put all their campaigning effort behind it. If only one song is nominated, it stands the best chance of winning the category.

This is where Disney suffered from the tricky timing of Encanto's release.

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The Oscars' submission deadline for this category was 1 November. But Encanto wasn't released until three weeks later - 21 November.

As a result, Disney were in the delicate position of trying to predict which song from the film would connect the most with the public, before any of the public had actually seen it.

It's also worth remembering that Encanto spent its first month of release exclusively in cinemas before it was made available on streaming service Disney+ on Christmas Eve.

Releasing it on the streaming service brought the film to a wider audience, and momentum for Bruno slowly began to build as more and more viewers found the catchy number stuck in their head.

By January, it was climbing the charts, ultimately becoming the first ever original Disney song to hit number one in the UK.

Of course, back in early November, there was no way of predicting how huge We Don't Talk About Bruno would become, and Disney instead decided to submit Dos Oruguitas for the Oscar, an acoustic and emotional Spanish-language ballad with the same kind of vibe which often goes down well with the Academy.

(Coincidentally, Miranda recently revealed the character Bruno was originally going to be called Oscar, but the name was changed during production. Not not for any reason to do with the Oscars, though.)

What has Lin-Manuel Miranda said?

Image source, Getty Images
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Lin-Manuel Miranda previously wrote the musicals In The Heights and Hamilton

Miranda, who also wrote Hamilton and In The Heights, has been asked about Bruno's absence from the best original song longlist in recent interviews.

"No one could have predicted the success of the soundtrack, much less that [We Don't Talk About Bruno] was going to be the one that popped off," Miranda told the Elvis Duran Show last week.

"When you submit a song for consideration, I always think the song you submit is not about whether you win or not. It's about the one that best exemplifies the spirit of the movie itself. That's always the guiding principle. And for us, Dos Oruguitas is the foundational story."

He might end up regretting that Bruno was not submitted. Since 2014, when he won an Emmy to go along with his Tony and Grammy, Miranda has been waiting for an Oscar win to join the illustrious EGOT club.

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One of the reasons We Don't Talk About Bruno is such an interesting song to listen to, is that it's sung by such a wide variety of characters. It's a group number which sees various people around Mirabel explain why they avoid mentioning this particular uncle in conversation.

It all boils down to the fact that Bruno's habit of predicting terrible events in people's future, which would later come to pass, made people anxious and wary of him, ultimately leading to him being ostracised. The characters' respective musical motifs start to build and overlap towards the song's climax - a Miranda trademark.

"Because we have so many characters in this movie, I said 'why don't we do a gossip story', because we all have those stories in our family that you're not allowed to talk about at the dinner table," Miranda explained.

"So I said 'what if there's a group gossip number? That way we can meet some of the characters who aren't going to get their own song... and the reaction has just been so incredible."

As for the reasons why, Miranda mused: "Honestly I think it's because we've all been in lockdown for two years, and we've been locked up with our families, so we're very familiar with this dynamic of 'we're not supposed to talk about that'."

So what is going to win instead?

Image source, Reuters
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Due to Covid, the theme song for No Time To Die was released more than 18 months before the film

Probably Billie Eilish and her James Bond theme No Time To Die.

In recent years, Bond themes have generally won this award at the Oscars. Writing's On The Wall by Sam Smith (from Spectre) and Skyfall by Adele (from, surprisingly, Skyfall) won best original song in 2016 and 2013 respectively.

Eilish's hauntingly beautiful No Time To Die therefore stands a pretty good chance of winning this year, and it would be a way of the Academy recognising and rewarding Bond's success at the box office despite not nominating it in the top categories.

However, Eilish faces competition from the likes of Be Alive (performed by Beyonce, from King Richard), Down To Joy (performed by Van Morrison, from Belfast), Somehow You Do (by Reba McEntire, from Four Good Days) and, of course, Dos Oruguitas from Encanto.

These best original song contenders were announced as the Oscar nominations were unveiled on Tuesday. Just nobody talk about Bruno.