Odd as it may seem, the Oscars’ technical categories are often the most difficult to predict. Among these is the award for Best Sound Mixing. Sometimes this category just gets swept up with the film that cleans up come Oscar night (Slumdog Millionaire, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, etc.). Other times, you find the award going to one of those crowd-pleasing, effects-laden blockbusters that, despite being technically sound, rarely stand a chance of landing nominations in the major categories (The Bourne Ultimatum). So, what do we make of this year’s nominations?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Excluding Rooney Mara’s nomination for Best Actress, the much-hyped The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn’t fare particularly well. It failed to land a Best Picture nomination and the work of A-list director David Fincher and screenwriter Steven Zaillian went overlooked. At the end of the day, the film’s grim, unsettling subject matter probably turned too many people off.  Here, I think the Academy voters are throwing a bone to the prolific filmmakers with this nomination. With that, I don’t like its chances of winning.
 

War Horse

There is no question that Steven Spielberg had Oscars on the brain while making this grand, sweeping, yet hopelessly sentimental, epic. I’m sure his efforts and stature in the industry were the primary causes of War Horse getting 6 nominations. However, I am sensing a shutout on Oscar night. The film’s lack of success at the Golden Globes only strengthens my case.
 

Moneyball

I have actually been really surprised by the amount of attention Moneyball has received this award season. While the film was undeniably well-made and earned strong reviews from critics, it just didn’t seem to carry the weight of a Best Picture contender to me. It looks like the filmmakers had the last laugh. While I still consider Moneyball to be an underdog in every category it is nominated for, I wouldn’t put anything past this solid, crowd-pleasing film.
 

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Virtually every year at least one big-budget, effects-driven film that would NEVER be considered for Best Picture lands a nomination in Best Sound Mixing. Last year it was Salt and this year it is Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Taking into consideration that both Transformers (2007) and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) were nominated in this category and lost, it doesn’t look good.
 

Hugo

Right out of the gate, critics were smitten with Martin Scorsese’s 3D fantasy Hugo, with many calling it a modern-day classic. Frankly, I found it to be rather strange and pretentious. Nevertheless, it appears to be an Oscar darling with a staggering 11 nominations. While I am not sure about Hugo taking home any awards in the major categories, I think it will do pretty well on the technical side, sound mixing included.
 

My prediction for the winner of Best Achievement in Sound Mixing is Hugo. The reasons for this are simple. The motion picture industry had been looking for a film to help reinvigorate and legitimize the dying 3D format. With the massive amount of hype and acclaim that was heaped on Hugo, they clearly thought they had found that film. I didn’t buy into it and given its disappointing box-office, neither did audiences. However, it appears the academy voters have not given up on Hugo and I think they will reward it come Oscar night to help spread the word. To be fair, I think Hugo‘s nominations in the technical categories are warranted. From a purely cinematic standpoint, the film is masterfully shot and edited, but one should expect nothing less from a true artist like Martin Scorsese.
 

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