DIANE WARREN, A 13-TIME OSCAR NOMINEE AND HONORARY OSCAR RECIPIENT AT THE NOV. 19 GOVERNORS AWARDS, RECALLS THE SONGS AND OUTFITS THAT MADE A BANG AT THE ACADEMY AWARDS.
One of the most prolific contemporary songwriters, Diane Warren’s songs have been featured in over 100 movies—resulting in 13 Academy Award nominations. “It’s always a really memorable experience,” says Warren, who scored her first Oscar nomination in the original song category for “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from Mannequin in 1988, and received subsequent nods for her beloved tunes including “Because You Loved Me,” “How Do I Live,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Til It Happens to You” and “Stand Up for Something.” “You’re one of five songs picked—it’s not easy to even get to that point,” she says. “I grew up watching the Academy Awards with my mom and dad, and now, I get to go to the Oscars!” However, the Grammy, Golden Globe and Emmy winner—who’s tied for having written the most No. 1 songs as a sole writer in Billboard history, and has penned tunes for legendary artists such as Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Aretha Franklin—never seemed to snag an Oscar, until now. At The Academy’s 13th Governors Awards Nov. 19, Warren will become the first songwriter to receive an honorary Oscar. “I still can’t even believe that,” she says. “It’s so f-in’ cool!” Here, the music and style standout reflects on some of her most memorable Oscar years and looks.
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“I just had no idea that song would ever get nominated,” says Warren of her song “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights, which starred Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker and Minnie Driver. “And it was a really great movie. Gina Prince-Bythewood directed it.” Critics began predicting the nomination, but Warren didn’t think it had much of a chance. “And then, oh, my God, it got nominated! Rita Ora sang it. … So that was the shock of that one, being nominated.” A friend went shopping with Warren, and she loved this silver sequined jacket. “It was just cool,” Warren says. “It seemed like something you'd wear to something special.”
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“There were a couple of times where I really did think I was going to win—one was ‘Til It Happens to You,’” Warren says of her song from the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground, co-written and performed by Lady Gaga. “When everybody’s telling you you’re going to win, and [Gaga’s] performance was so amazing, with all the survivors of sexual assault onstage with her. It was just so powerful.” Following the commercial break, Warren was optimistic about the song for which she later won an Emmy. “And then, ‘And the winner is… not me.’ But it was memorable,” says Warren, who opted for these black pants and a studded jacket rather than more closely matching Gaga’s look. “That performance was one of the best things I’d ever seen on the Oscars.”
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“That was Valentino,” says Warren of the pantsuit she wore when her song from La vita davanti a se got nominated. “I wrote a song called ‘Seen.’ In Italian, it’s called ‘Io Sì.’ Laura Pausini wrote the Italian lyrics and sang, and I guess she works with Valentino and she told me they could hook me up. I’m like, ‘All right, I’ll take it!’ A free Valentino suit, you know?” Warren didn’t want to wear another black suit. “I wanted to wear white,” she says. “And what was really memorable about that whole night is it’s the first time I ever performed on the Oscars. So I played piano while Laura sang. I’d never done that before, so that was pretty awesome.”
“Again, I just didn’t want, like, a boring black suit,” says Warren, who worked with stylist Tanya Gill when she received a nomination for her song “Somehow You Do” from Four Good Days, which starred Glenn Close as a mother helping her daughter (Mila Kunis) recover from substance abuse. “I was thinking, why not something in green?” Warren’s blue ribbon and heart pin were in support of Ukraine—“after Reba [McEntire] sang the song, we did something talking about that,” she recalls. And upon seeing a picture of this boombox-shaped purse by Judith Leiber, she had to have it. “I like it to be fun and whimsical, and not so serious,” says Warren, whose everyday attire includes fun, quirky T-shirts and tennis shoes. “You have to have fun with everything.”