Why wasn’t ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ nominated for an Oscar?

We Don't Talk About Bruno - Oscars
Photo via DisneyMusicVEVO/YouTube

The most popular track from Disney’s recent Encanto failed to receive an Oscar nomination, baffling fans.

Why was “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” the unexpected bop from Disney’s late November release, absent from the Oscars’ lineup of nominations? The song has been all but unavoidable since the film was released, taking over TikTok “for you” pages, dominating radio stations, and reminding everyone — including those that have never seen the film — that “we don’t talk about Bruno.”

Listeners are aghast at the song’s absence from the list of nominees, particularly with the knowledge that another Encanto song made the cut. Who made the decision to exclude the film’s most popular song from potential nominations, and have they been fired yet?

Why was “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” snubbed?

We Don't Talk About Bruno
Photo via DisneyMusicVEVO/YouTube

Encanto‘s breakout hit is one of Disney’s most popular songs in years, so fans are genuinely struggling to wrap their heads around its absence from the Oscars. Other songs from the film’s impressive lineup, including “Surface Pressure” were instant hits, but “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” quickly overtook even them, within weeks becoming the most talked about song on the web.

With all this in mind, it feels absurd to think that the song wasn’t at least considered for an Oscar nomination. There are a few factors behind its absence, however, that fall in line with how Disney typically handles its Oscar contenders.

For one thing, Oscar contenders are typically decided a good while before the event itself. Most likely, Disney sent out its list of potential nominees before “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” became the most popular song in North America, leaving them ignorant to the song’s massive fanbase.

There is also a clear trend in Disney’s history, when it comes to nominating songs. This year’s lack of “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” falls well in line with years past, in which Disney fixated on its most challenging and dramatic songs, rather than its most upbeat or popular.

When it comes to the Oscars, it is relatively well known that the dramatic and heart-wrenching have a tendency to take precedence over the silly, fun, or thrilling. Fans upset that Spider-Man: No Way Home was largely ignored this year will see the trend — despite being an excellent film, and one of the most popular releases of 2021 (and all time, for that matter) — the film received a single nomination.

Image via Disney

That’s because No Way Home doesn’t really fit the Academy’s idea of an Oscar-worthy movie. Most films that win Academy Awards fit into a well-established box, one that the Academy has hardly deviated from in its 93 years on the air. While there are certainly exceptions, it is generally considered all but impossible for many films, including many comedies and action movies, to be contenders.

Thus, we get to the crux of why “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” is absent from this year’s ceremony. In the harshest of terms, it’s simply not pretentious enough. The song is fun, upbeat, culturally relevant, and far too much of a bop to seem worthy of the honor. Despite its immense popularity, the song just doesn’t suit typical Oscar fare.

Disney has a tendency to lean on its emotional ballads, rather than its entertaining and upbeat tracks, as noted by Entertainment Weekly. Disney’s typical Oscar strategy sees the entertainment company submit songs like Pocahontas‘ “Colors of the Wind” or The Lion King‘s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” for Oscar consideration. It’s more popular, but less poignant, songs tend to take a back burner.

That’s exactly what happened this year. Instead of putting “Surface Pressure” or “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” forward for consideration, Disney leaned on Encanto‘s most emotive track, “Dos Oruguitas” for its Oscar submission.

Now don’t get me wrong. “Dos Oruguitas” is a gorgeous track, deeply deserving of an Oscar win. It would also make history were it to be awarded in the Best Original Song category, as Disney’s first non-English language song to receive the honor.

It is also, as noted by the film’s directors, Jared Bush and Byron Howard, deeply interwoven into Encanto‘s rich and heartfelt storyline. The song appears at one of the most important moments of the film and provides an immensely necessary piece of the story.

“‘Dos Oruguitas’ was so central to the emotional theme of the movie,” Howard told the New York Times in mid-Jan. interview. “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.”

So, while “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” won’t be winning any Oscars this year, Encanto still could. In more than just the musical category, too. The film also nabbed nominations for Best Original Score and Best Animated Feature.