The Oscars are only days away and I’ve found myself running through the nominees, wondering who will take home the statuettes. I have no real reason for caring as much as I do about these awards, but something deep inside me wants to, at some point, predict every category right. In this post, we’ll discuss the sound-related categories.
The sound categories are tricky. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing? Me neither. A quick Wikipedia search (the most reliable of all unreliable internet encyclopedias) states that Sound Editing has usually been thought of as a sound effects award. Before it was given the moniker of Sound Editing, it was known by other names such as “Best Sound Effects” (1963–1967, 1975) or “Sound Effects Editing” (1977, 1981–1999). See, you learn something new every day.
So, if Sound Editing is indeed the sound effects award, I would venture a guess that the Sound Mixing award deals more with the overall sound of a movie – everything from the score to the effects, to the way it’s all put together.
Muddying these categories even further is the fact that, in the last four years, we’ve seen three movies run the proverbial sound awards table: ‘Inception’ in 2010, ‘The Hurt Locker’ in 2009 and ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ in 2007. This could mean one of two things: 1) Maybe the award voters don’t really understand the difference either, or 2) They don’t really care in the first place. I’m guessing the latter, but who really knows?
Now that we’ve got the confusing history of these categories out of the way, let’s take a look at the nominees.
Best Sound Editing
- ‘Drive’ – Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
- ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ – Ren Klyce
- ‘Hugo’ – Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
- ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ – Starscream and Optimus Prime… errr… I mean Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
- ‘War Horse’ – Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
Best Sound Mixing
- ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ – David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
- ‘Hugo’ – Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
- ‘Moneyball’ – Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick
- ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ – Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
- ‘War Horse’ – Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
Now the question you need to ask is whether you think that the trend will continue and the same movie will win both categories. If that’s true, we can already eliminate ‘Drive’ and ‘Moneyball’ from the competition in their respective categories. Apparently, the mixing for ‘Moneyball’ was slightly better than ‘Drive’, but ‘Drive just narrowly edged ‘Moneyball’ in the editing department. They take this stuff very seriously, folks.
I’m in the camp that thinks we’ll have another repeat winner this year. Whoever wins Editing will also take home that coveted Mixing statuette too. Sorry Bay fans, but I don’t think ‘Transformers’ has a shot at winning unless Optimus crashes through the roof, stomps Billy Crystal and flies off with the tiny gold Oscars.
That still leaves some formidable foes. ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ doesn’t seem to fit here either. Yeah, I know that it’s Trent Reznor, but apparently he has nothing to do with these categories anyway. (The list of names was taken straight from the Oscar web site.) Since ‘Dragon Tattoo’ wasn’t nominated for Best Score, we have to assume that Reznor’s sway holds little cred in either of these categories. And, let’s face it, against ‘Hugo’ and ‘War Horse’, it doesn’t stand much of a chance.
Now we’re down to two: ‘Hugo’ or ‘War Horse’. ‘Hugo’ was nominated for scads of awards and will probably dominate most of the visual categories. Here, however, I feel that ‘War Horse’ holds the edge. It’s an epic movie, and epics, as history has pointed out, do well when it comes to the sound categories. The other thing going for ‘War Horse’ is that it’s a war movie. Epic war movies are almost always shoe-ins.
I’m giving both these categories to ‘War Horse’.
Best Original Score
Okay, let’s move on to the Original Score category, which, again, is differentiated from Sound Mixing and Sound Editing by being music based. However, I’m sure that memorable music will play a role in ‘War Horse’ winning the aforementioned category.
Now that we’ve got to the Original Score, we can definitely see people picking favorites here. Oscar stalwart John Williams has been nominated so many times he’s most likely lost count.
- ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ – John Williams
- ‘The Artist’ – Ludovic Bource
- ‘Hugo’ – Howard Shore
- ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ – Alberto Iglesias
- ‘War Horse’ – John Williams
As if John Williams needed any more help at winning Oscars, he’s been nominated for two original scores this year. Nonetheless, this is the year of ‘The Artist’. Sorry, ‘Tinker’, even though I really dug your moody, understated score. Apologies, ‘Hugo’, you’ll win in the visuals. Ludovic Bource will take home this golden statue because ‘The Artist’ is positively nothing without that light-hearted, bubbly score, which not only adds music to the movie but adds spirit, emotion and character development too. We don’t have dialogue, but the score meticulously makes up for the emotions that the dialogue would convey. ‘The Artist’ simply has to win this category no matter what.
Best Original Song
- “Man or Muppet” from ‘The Muppets’ – Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
- “Real in Rio” from ‘Rio’ – Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown, Lyric by Siedah Garrett
No, I didn’t forget the other three nominations. There are literally only two nominations for this category. Is the Academy trying to slowly phase this category out of existence for some reason? Not only did the voters forget to nominate every other song from ‘The Muppets’, there won’t even be any song performances at the ceremony this year. The Academy could’ve done something cool and had a Muppet-off as the cast of ‘The Muppets’ performed each song during the telecast. But nope, they couldn’t do something fun like that. They got Billy Crystal to tell jokes, and that’s apparently more fun than anyone can handle.
Even though they whiffed on nominating all of the other stellar songs from ‘The Muppets’, what about “Everything is Hunny” from ‘Winnie the Pooh’? The voters could’ve at least feigned interest in this category. Instead, they nominated one song from ‘The Muppets’ and picked, by far, the most grating song from the ‘Rio’ bubblegum pop soundtrack, which was specifically made to latch onto kiddie brainstems and cause them to sing the songs incessantly. The best song in that movie, “Pretty Bird” written by Jermaine Clement of ‘Flight of the Conchords’ fame, was left out in the cold. Seeing that “Man or Muppet” was penned by Bret McKenzie, nominating “Pretty Bird” could’ve thrown an interesting wrench into the mix: Conchord vs. Conchord. Imagine the fun that could’ve been had with a mash-up on-stage performance of those two songs performed by that band. Ugh. All the possibilities with this category and this is what the Academy comes up with?
There’s no question here. “Man or Muppet” wins by a mile. “Real in Rio”? Really?
If you’re keeping score at home, my ballot looks like this:
Best Sound Mixing: ‘War Horse’
Best Sound Editing: ‘War Horse’
Best Original Score: ‘The Artist’
Best Original Song: “Man or a Muppet” from ‘The Muppets’