Statuesque: 2012 Oscar Predictions – Sound Categories

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’


  1. JM

    ‘Transformers’ is an epic war film, and robot noises are notoriously harder to mix than horse noises.


    The first time I watched ‘Moneyball’ my first thought was, “Now that was some damn fine sound mixing.’

    For sound editing, I’m coming back to T3. The 3D cameras that forced Michael Bay to quit using fast cuts had the extra perk of improving all the little nuances within the soundfield, despite the fact the the overall sound edit was a little more run-and-gun than Transformers 2. Still, it is worthy, sequence 17 in particular, of the academy’s highest praise.

    Best original was Zooey Deschanel’s from ‘Winnie the Pooh.’

    They should get rid of the new rule that forbids end credit songs.

    • Aaron Peck

      Ah, yes. Deschanel’s song is fantastic. They have so many quirky rules for nominating songs it’s infuriating. If it’s an original song and in a movie then it should be able to be nominated. End of story.

      As for ‘T3’ it’s not the right kind of war movie for an Academy with a voter mean age of 62.

  2. Other than “Man or Muppet,” were there really any other great songs in The Muppets? I liked the movie, and I like Bret McKenzie, but the majority of songs in the movie were pretty unmemorable. What was that one that Amy Adams seemed to drone on and on with for half an hour in the diner?

    About why there are only two song nominations this year, some of the less-vital categories at the Oscars have rules that limit the number of nominations based on what percentage of the vote each entry gets.

    In fact, here are the specifics of this year’s process:

    “On Thursday, January 5, the Academy will screen clips featuring each song, in random order, for voting members of the Music Branch in Los Angeles. Following the screenings, members will determine the nominees by an averaged point system of voting. If no song receives an average score of 8.25 or more, there will be no nominees in the category. If only one song achieves that score, it and the song receiving the next highest score shall be the two nominees. If two or more songs (up to five) achieve that score, they shall be the nominees. A DVD copy of the song clips will be made available to those branch members who are unable to attend the screening and who request it for home viewing. A mail-in ballot will be provided.”

    I think the decision to exclude end-credits songs was a good one. We could’ve avoided “My Heart Will Go On” that way. 🙂 Seriously, though, the end-credits song fad got to be really ridiculous, especially in the ’90s, where music labels would pay big money to get pop songs foisted at the end of movies, no matter how inappropriate, specifically for the purpose of getting an Oscar nomination. Remember that Annie Lenox track at the end of Bram Stoker’s Dracula? It wasn’t a terrible song on its own, but it didn’t fit the tone of the movie at all.

  3. Jon D

    Sound editing is given to the person or persons that either designed the effects or led the sound editing team. In War Horse, Gary Rydstrom was the sound designer, and Richard Hymns was the supervising sound editor. Best sound is given to the re-recording mixers, who are responsible for the final sound of the movie.

    Transformers 3 had a really nice soundtrack, but I think the other two were nominated for the same awards and didn’t win either time.

    This year it’s probably going to be a face off between Hugo and Warhorse.

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