There is perhaps no songwriter who has made more contributions to the soundtrack of cinema than Diane Warren. The prolific musician earned her first-ever nomination for Best Original Song in 1988 with the power ballad "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" from Mannequin. In the decades since, she's amassed a total of 14 Oscar nominations, with consecutive nominations every year since 2018. On Nov. 19, Warren's body of work was recognized with an honorary Oscar at the 13th Governors Awards.
"People say, 'How does it feel to lose 13 times?' 'Wait,' I say. 'What do you mean? I've won 13 times!'" Warren said in her acceptance speech. "Because out of the hundreds of songs and movies every year, 13 times my songs were picked to be one of only five songs chosen. And chosen not by just anybody, but the greatest people in the movie business on the planet. That's a pretty big f*****g win, right?"
Her most recent nomination for Best Original Song comes for the anthemic "Applause," performed by singer Sofia Carson in the anthology feature, Tell It Like a Woman. ("It's my 14th nomination but it feels like the first," Warren said.) For the all-around hitmaker — who has worked with Cher, Celine Dion, Gloria Estefan, Aretha Franklin, Lady Gaga, Whitney Houston, Elton John, Barbra Streisand, Tina Turner and on and on — it's the dream of a life spent loving movies and the music in them.
"Songs from movies have been some of my favorites for as long as I can remember. They can make you smile, or make you dance, or make you cry at the end. They can take you back to that movie again and again, every time you hear them," says the songwriter. "I guess it's not a big surprise that I kind of love the big ballads!"
Below, Warren shares with A.frame five of her all-time favorite movie songs.
This article was originally published on March 11, 2021.
Music by: Mark London | Lyrics by: Don Black
Maybe it's the melody, which is stunning, or the longingly beautiful lyrics. Together, they create a masterpiece of sadness. It's a song about having to say goodbye to someone who has changed your life — as the teacher played by Sidney Poitier has done for his students — and about thanking someone who has "taken you from crayons to perfume," sung so beautifully by Lulu, who also was one of the stars in the movie. One of the best movie songs of all time.
Music by: John Barry | Lyrics by: Don Black
I still remember sitting in the movie theater with my mom and dad and that exact scene when Elsa the lion comes back to visit the Adamsons, who raised her, with her lion cubs and just sobbing uncontrollably when "Born Free" comes on. This song captured the entire meaning of not only that beautiful moment, but also of the entire film.
Music and Lyrics by: John Lennon and Paul McCartney
From that opening chord, you knew you were about to experience something amazing. And what an amazing movie, filled with so many great songs. The sound of The Beatles crashing into all of our young hearts all at once.
Music and Lyrics by: Prince
Everything about this song is fantastic: The melody, the genius guitar solo — it's like Prince poured all his influences into one song and created something totally unique and timeless from that. This song and this movie showed us all that Prince was one of the greats. It is one of the greatest soundtracks of all time.
Music by: David Foster | Lyrics by: Dolly Parton
Has there ever been a greater vocal performance of a greater song in a movie? The longing, the sadness of having to let go of someone you love so much when you know it is what must be, but wish with all your heart that it wasn't. Who doesn't remember that scene when the key change happens and the camera pulls away from Whitney Houston right at that glorious moment. The answer? Nobody.