Here is another technical award that could make or break your Oscar pool. As you can tell there are two different sound categories; sound editing and sound mixing. What’s the difference you ask? Sound editing is the actual creation of sounds where sound mixing is the blending of them. Great, cleared that up. So what does it take to win best sound editing? First, it’s VERY common for the same movie to win both sound awards (Inception, Bourne Ultimatum, The Hurt Locker.) So the film that wins should be nominated for both sound editing and mixing. Every once in a while the awards don’t match the same movie, but it’s rare. Second, the award almost always goes to an action or war film. It’s one of the few categories where big blockbusters have a good chance to beat those snooty best picture nominees. If you’re a best picture nominee and a big blockbuster, you’re golden. So let’s look at the nominee’s chances.

Drive


What’s going for it: The film was a critical hit and maybe on its way to becoming a modern cult classic. The movie has prestige and high impact action which is the perfect formula to take this award. Also, much of the film community has been very vocal about the film’s obvious Oscar snubs (especially supporting actor Albert Brooks). The voters may want to award Drive it’s only chance at the gold just to prove the movie deserves some recognition. It also doesn’t hurt that sound editor Lon Bender is a previous winner for Braveheart.

What’s against it: The single nomination for the acclaimed film is a double edged sword. This is the film’s ONLY nomination and it’s not a big category. It shows that the Academy does not have strong support for it and when they are checking off who should get the Oscar, Drive’s absence from the rest of the categories may remind voters that it’s not a major player. Drive is also the only film on the list that doesn’t have a nomination for sound mixing which hurts it since, as mentioned above, most pas winner take both sound awards.
 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


What’s going for it: Even though not getting a best picture nomination, the film played quite well in other categories with a total of five nominations. There are some die hard Dragon Tattoo fans, evident by surprise nominee Rooney Mara in the lead actress category. The film’s sound makers (particularly Ken Klyce) have been nominated for three of Fincher’s films (Fight Club, Benjamin Button, The Social Network). The Academy may finally take notice of the sound editors’ repeated nominations. The film also offers some deeply disturbing sound creations in the midst of eerie silence.

What’s against it: The award usually goes to an action film, plain and simple. And if not a straight forward action film, it needs to have some high octane sequences. Dragon Tattoo has a couple wild scenes but it’s mostly a quiet film. There aren’t too many winners in this category that went to the more subtle sounding nominee- even when they were up for best picture. Just look at past best picture nominees/ subtle sound editing losers: True Grit, There Will Be Blood, and No Country for Old Men. All of them lost to a big action blockbuster. This hurts Dragon Tattoo since it’s neither an action film nor best picture nominee.
 

Hugo


What’s going for it: The film has the most nominations this year, dominating every technical category. The film will come up so many times on the voter’s checklist that they won’t be able to resist checking it’s title for at least a few of the technical awards. The film has just enough prestige and action to get the attention of the Academy. The sound creations have a straight forward focus on a variety of machineries; ticking clocks, trains, and writing automaton. Also, sound editor Eugene Gearty has been in the business for almost thirty years working with Scorsese multiple times yet has never won. The Academy may want to finally award this sound veteran.

What’s against it: The film may have a better chance in the sound mixing category since the film blends so many machinery sounds, rather than creates them from scratch. That of course would be the case if voters decide to split the sound winners and award two different movies. Or decide not award Hugo at all. And although there are obvious scenes with complicated sounds, the film is not an action movie. The action movie theory is getting old, but it’s true.  And although being a sound veteran for Scorsese can get him recognized, this is only Gearty’s second nomination in his thirty active years. For being a pro in the industry for so long, one would think he would have more under his belt.
 

Transformers: Dark of the Moon


What’s going for it: So here is a full-fledged action film if there has ever been an action film. Things explode, robots transform, cars zoom, bombs go off- you get the idea. The movie has action, action, action. It’s like a monster truck rally inside a monster truck rally that just exploded. If being an action flick puts you up front to get a sound award, this may be the voters golden ticket. The film also made over a billion dollars worldwide, so it’s obviously well known. Plus the film’s sound editors have already won twice for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and King Kong. Basically the Academy is very familiar with their work and may want to award them again.

What’s against it: The film sucked. The movie was bashed by critics and even hated by some strong fan boys. Even though it made more money than needed, voters may not be able to wash the bad taste out of their mouths. And although the last two Transformer films have made small appearances in technical categories in the past, they always left home empty handed. We have seen and heard this commotion before in the other films. The only difference is everything was amped up. Just because it’s louder doesn’t make it better. If it couldn’t win its first year when the movie was the talk of the town, why would it win now? If there was a little, just a little, prestige to the movie it would have a much, much better chance.
 

War Horse


What’s going for it: The film is nominated for best picture and has plenty of war scenes to get its sound editing noticed. War films play very, very well in this category (The Hurt Locker, Letters from Iwo Jima). The film also has the attachments of the famous sound wizards who previously won this award for classics such as Terminator 2, Titanic, and other Spielberg collaborations Saving Private Ryan and Jurassic Park. This team has quite an impressive resume and the most Oscar wins to boost. The film itself doesn’t look like it will win best picture but it has a very strong shot at taking home some technical awards including this one. In fact the only time this team lost with Spielberg at helm was for Minority Report.

What’s against it: Although it’s an impressive sound crew, the love for War Horse is not as strong as it was for Saving Private Ryan or Jurassic Park. Both of those films were huge money makers with some breakthrough effects and sounds. War Horse has yet to cross the 100 million mark and it doesn’t feel like is has very strong supporters. The voters may also feel that this group of sound winners have had their time in the spotlight and have shown, arguably, more impressive achievements in the past. It may be time to let a sound editor who has never won take it.

Who will win: Hugo should come out on top. I just don’t see the Academy ignoring this visual technical adventure from Scorsese. The multiple nominations really means the Academy is behind this movie to some extent. It’s probably not enough for a best picture win, but definitely enough for some technical awards.
 

Who could upset: War Horse could be victorious. Academy voters LOVE their war films even when they don’t make a heaping load of money.
 

Road to the Oscars Series

January 27: Best Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

January 31: Best Animated Short – Savanna New

February 1: Best Documentary Short – Christa Youngpeter

February 2: Best Documentary – Dantzler Smith

February 3: Best Foreign Language Film – Steve Neumann

February 4: Best Visual Effects – Michael Benedict

February 5: Best Sound Editing – Michael Benedict

February 6: Best Sound Mixing – Joseph Doherty

February 7: Best Makeup – Katie Mae Peters

February 8: Best Costume Design – Jax Russo

February 9: Best Art Direction – Scott Youngbauer

February 10: Best Film Editing – Michael Benedict

February 11: Best Cinematography – Scott Youngbauer

February 12: Best Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 13: Best Original Song – Adam Spunberg

February 14: Best Animated Feature Film – Steve Neumann

February 15: Best Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Best Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Best Supporting Actor – Joseph Doherty

February 18: Best Supporting Actress – Angela Stern

February 20: Best Actress – Andrew Payne

February 21: Best Actor – Kit Bowen

February 22: Best Director – Andrew Payne

February 23: Best Picture – Kit Bowen