Flight of the Conchords star Bret McKenzie may have a 50 percent chance of winning an Academy Award for his Muppet movie song - but Oscar history might be against him.

His Man or Muppet is the third Muppet song to be nominated in the Academy Award's best original song category after 1979's The Rainbow Connection and 1981's The First Time It Happens - but neither of those tunes won.

But McKenzie's chances are improved in other ways. He's one of only two nominees in the category this year, up against Real in Rio from the animated hit Rio, which was written by Brazilian music legends Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown with lyrics by Siedah Garrett.

Due to Oscar voting rules, both Elton John (Hello Hello) and Madonna (Masterpiece) weren't nominated for their tracks from the films Gnomeo and Juliet and WE respectively, despite being leading contenders in the same Golden Globes category.


And also to McKenzie's advantage is that 20-time perennial nominee Randy Newman didn't have a song in a movie in the past year.

So McKenzie's chances may come down to voters' affections for the tunes and the movies behind them.

The song nods are the only Oscar nominations the two films have received.

And while The Muppets has been much acclaimed, bird cartoon Rio made nearly US$500 millon at the international box office when it was released early in 2011 while the more recent The Muppets has grossed roughly a fifth of that.

Both movies have the backing of major studios - The Muppets by Disney and Rio by Fox - which may pitch in with Oscar voting campaigns.

McKenzie is the second New Zealander nominated in the Oscar best song category. Fran Walsh won for her co-write of Into The West for The Return of the King.

If he does win, the statuette could sit alongside the Grammy for best comedy album McKenzie and Conchords partner Jemaine Clement won in 2007.

Jason Segel, who performed the song in the movie, congratulated McKenzie on Twitter.


"Holy Moly! Man or Muppet was nominated for a best song Oscar! Congrats to Bret McKenzie and the whole Muppet team!!! So happy for everyone!"

Check out the video for Man or Muppet:

* Read the full list of Academy Award nominations here.

- NZ Herald