Seven songs that were robbed of their Oscar nomination

The Oscar voters should have done better.

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“PURE IMAGINATION” from Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

1971 was actually an important year for the Oscar Best Song category. Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft” won the big prize marking the first time an African American musician won an Oscar, and the first time the Oscars recognized modern R&B/Funk with an award. I have no problem with that selection.

But several of the other nominees that year – especially the rather maudlin “Life is What You Make It” from Kotch – were fairly uninspired choices. Meanwhile, Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley penned several marvelous songs for the first film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Willie Wonka story. “The Candy Man,” which appears early in the film, would become a major hit for Sammy Davis, Jr., and the rollicking set piece “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” essentially launched the main plot of the movie.

Either would have deserved a nomination. But how the Academy overlooked the absolutely gorgeous “Pure Imagination,” delivered with such wonder by star Gene Wilder, is just impossible to figure.

Actually, that’s not true. It may be rather easy to figure. The movie flopped in 1971. It only became a “timeless classic” in hindsight. And Oscar voters do seem to care about the box office – at least up to a point. Still something from Willie Wonka… should have been nominated. (Except for that painfully scolding “Óompa Loompa” song. Nobody likes that one.)