12 Years a Slave (Ryan Collins, Leslie Shatz, Kirk Francis)
The intricate sound design is one of this film's most unsung qualities. Simple yet distinctive sounds – a violin string being tightened, the crack of a whip, a prolonged wail of anguish – take on subtextual meanings as they penetrate the drone of wind sifting through the cotton plants, or bleed from one scene into another.
All Is Lost (Steve Boeddeker, Brandon Proctor)
In order to fully submerge us in his plight, the soundtrack speaks volumes in lieu of Redford. With a virtually unusable production audio from the tricky aquatic shoot, the soundscape (foley, music, and every one of Redford's fervent breaths) had to be almost entirely assembled in post, but you'd never guess it.
Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Beanstead, Chris Munro)
The mix is a gripping and visceral component of Cuaron's grand vision, forced to aurally keep up with the dizzying visuals. It masterfully evokes space with its level changes and output design. The opening tracking shot alone captivates with it slow build of sonic atmosphere.
Rush (Danny Hambrook, Stefan Korte, Martin Steyer)
This stellar sound mix deftly layers in several commentator voice tracks and Hans Zimmer's bassy score alongside the earsplitting revs, roars, and screeches of the race itself. And yet all the dialogue's clarity is never sacrificed. Every important moment comes through crisply.
Spring Breakers (Aaron Glascock, Gregory H. Watkins, Alex Altman)
Easily my least favourite movie to earn one of my own nominations this year, but I can't pretend that this film's sound design is great. The mellow overlap of dialogue tracks and music with the visuals has quite the hypnotic effect -- all the better to snap you out of with that motif of gun-cocking sound effects.
20 Feet from Stardom (Pete Horner, Abe Dolinger)
Captain Phillips (Mark Taylor, Chris Burdon, Mike Prestwood Smith, Chris Munro)
The Conjuring (Steve Maslow, Gregg Landaker, Carl Rudisill)
Inside Llewyn Davis (Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland)
Man of Steel (Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montano, Michael McGee)