Last year, word circulated early on that Sufjan Stevens' nominated song was slated to be cut from the telecast, although after considerable feedback, it was ultimately included as part of a medley. None of the nominated songs were performed in the 2010 and 2012 broadcasts, and just three of the five nominees were performed in 2013 and 2016. But there is precedent for producers making a judgment call about how many to include.
The Academy declined specific comment except to say that no decision on song performances has been made yet.
Only two of this year's five Oscar-nominated songs may be performed live on the Academy Awards show Feb. 24, Variety has learned.
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Rumors of their exclusion is already causing consternation among members of the music branch as well as among those nominees' respective camps. The other three — "The Place Where Lost Things Go" from "Mary Poppins Returns," "I'll Fight" from "RBG" and "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings" from "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" — would likely be acknowledged only during the announcement of the song nominees.
The three numbers that look to be left in the lurch all bring name recognition that makes the move to exclude even a medley of performances somewhat surprising — most obviously in the case of Emily Blunt, who sang her "Poppins" song on-screen in a key moment, and Jennifer Hudson, a previous Oscar winner, who sang the theme for "RBG." With the "Buster Scruggs" song, producers might have had the choice of going with the actors who sang it on screen, Tim Blake Nelson and Willie Watson, or its writers, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, who are amphitheater headliners in their own right who have performed the tune in their concerts.
All of the nominated songs have been performed in six of the past 10 Oscarcasts, including all of the last three. Performing all of the nominated songs is an Academy tradition and, when producers break from that practice, criticism is inevitable.
Oscars for Best Song are awarded not on the basis of commercial success but rather based on their dramatic use within a cinematic context. As rumors about the move have spread, music-business observers, for the most part, have quietly condemned the move as unfair and misleading.
Both the "Black Panther" and "Star Is Born" soundtrack albums are on the Interscope label and, should this plan become reality, it could be perceived as favoritism toward one record company, regardless of whether they alone among the nominees were hit singles.
A source with knowledge of the Academy's thinking says cutting songs is less a knock on the nominees than something long discussed as part of this year's mandate to limit the show to three hours. The Academy has hinted that several Oscars (for so-called "craft" categories such as sound editing and sound mixing) will be presented during commercials, an already controversial move.
Multiple sources tell Variety that the two biggest chart hits — Kendrick Lamar and SZA's "All the Stars" from "Black Panther" and Lady Gaga's "Shallow" from "A Star Is Born" — are the two chosen by Academy execs and show producers for performance on the telecast.

The British actress, a well-loved supporting player in “Pride & Prejudice” and “An Education,” took the lead and scored her first Oscar nomination. Four years later, Pike is courting awards attention again with “A Private War,” a film about the life of the late Marie Colvin, a war correspondent whose loss of an eye (due to a rocket-launched grenade in Sri Lanka) failed to contain her drive to document the truth. In “Gone Girl,” Rosamund Pike proved she could put herself through anything.
John Krasinski: How did “A Private War” come to you? Was it something that you always wanted to do, to play some sort of character with that level of intensity and toughness?
Krasinski: How was that, trying to get to know her through the people who knew her?
What do you do when you’re doing “A Private War”? Do you stay in that turmoil? Krasinski: People ask Emily all the time: “Did you live with that movie? Or do you pop in and out? Did you live with that character?” We are not those people.
Krasinski: And that’s not even with your kids, just yourself.
I remember day three, watching Emily do a scene with these kids. Krasinski: Absolutely. There was definitely a huge feeling of fear in a good way. I knew that the scenes would be pretty interesting, but I wasn’t prepared for them to be more beautiful than anything I could’ve written. Emily was great in the scene, but these kids were so unbelievable that when you took away their ability to speak, they were emoting some of the purest performances I had seen. But the cool thing about not being able to speak in a movie, other than with sign language, is that I left the door open to allow organic moments to happen. Are words something that not only you need as an actor, but you need as a director and editor, to sort of meter your movie?
Krasinski: She doesn’t seem like someone who would want a movie about her, do you think?
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He stars opposite his wife, Emily Blunt, in his directorial effort “A Quiet Place.” John Krasinski has enjoyed a recent career renaissance, pivoting from the sweet paper salesman he played on “The Office” to the thinking movie fan’s hunk in 2018, a star whose charisma and talent is bolstered by his obvious love for family.
Krasinski: What is it like working with an eye patch for an entire movie?
Probably because it’s a quality I feel I lack. Rosamund Pike: I think I’m very drawn to people who show tremendous courage. When you’re trying to convey somebody’s life, who’s been lost very recently and who people love very fiercely and protectively, you want to feel that you’re going to get at something that does feel truthful.
Pike: I think I can sort of go home and get on the floor and start playing with Legos.
If you don’t trust that person, there’s a much bigger chance of falling. Krasinski: Well it’s all high-wire acting.
For more, click here. John Krasinski and Rosamund Pike sat down for a conversation for Variety's Actors on Actors.
I rang [director] Matt [Heineman] in the middle of the night, and I said, “I don’t know if we can do this.” And the next morning, this taxi arrived at my door in London, and there was nobody in it, just this bag. Pike: I think I realized so quickly how painful it was to people who knew her. The message was “Keep going.” One of her friends had sent me a sweater and a jacket that had belonged to Marie.
Pike: Or you’re making yourself super vulnerable, and you’ve got to know that that is in hands that are going to hold you.
Pike: Those children trusted you; Emily obviously trusts you.
You are literally blindsided. Pike: People ask me sort of  “Could you actually see through it?” I said no. She took that disability and went into conflict zones. I think the eye patch is so core to who Marie was. We do seek those things that change the way you negotiate the world, which you must’ve felt doing “A Quiet Place,” with not being able to speak. That would kind of defeat everything. What would be the point of that?
It’s not your grief to feel, and yet, boy, do you feel it. Pike: As a journalist, I think she’s really someone who doesn’t want to be at the center of a story.