Friday, April 17, 2015

Early Oscar Predictions: Sound

Music and sound are amongst the final touches to be put on a film, which means there's usually not much to go on when trying to predict Oscar nominees from a year out. Actioners, war movies, or films of a grand size and scale are as good a bet as any at this stage. Better yet if their crews feature sound designers and mixers you have had brushes with awards success in the past.
Films set on the high seas have historically done well in these categories. Captain Phillips, All Is Lost, and Unbroken are just the most recent examples. The sound branch clearly appreciates the amount of work it takes to make all that water sound realistic. Could Ron Howard's In the Heart of the Sea follow suit? Apart from two-time winner Chris Munro, the team hasn't had much awards exposure.

A well reviewed action movie can glean nominations, and even wins, for its sound work. Sam Mendes' Skyfall went one-for-two a couple of years ago, and the same team is returning for Spectre. Will the Bond franchise's newly found pedigree earn more attention for Per Hallberg, Scott Milan, and the criminally un-Oscared Greg P. Russell?

Westerns have also been prospects to keep an ear on lately, with the likes of True Grit and Django Unchained finding some love for their plethora of hoof beats and gunshots. Perhaps Alejandro G. Inarritu's The Revenant -- whose team includes Oscar winner Lon Bender -- can do likewise only a year after Birdman (a far less likely suspect) doubled down in the sound categories. Or maybe the same contingent that stumped for Django will do the same for Tarrantino's The Hateful Eight.
The harsh winds and unforgiving snowscape of Everest will be brought to sonic life by recent Best Sound Editing winner Glenn Freemantle (Gravity). The group peril adventure sounds enticing, but will it catch on in September or be largely forgotten by the time voting starts?

Another high-altitude thrill ride, albeit in a more urban setting, is Robert Zemeckis' The Walk. The 3D depiction of Philippe Petit's legendary tightrope stunt is sure to induce vertigo on a purely visual scale, but two-time Oscar winner Randy Thom and his mixing team will have to communicate that sense of space aurally as well.

Predictions:
Best Sound Mixing
Everest
In the Heart of the Sea
The Revenant
Spectre
The Walk

Best Sound Editing
Everest
The Hateful Eight
In the Heart of the Sea
The Revenant
Spectre

Also consider: Bridge of Spies, The Good Dinosaur, Inside Out, Jurassic World, The Martian, Missions Impossible 5, Star Wars VII

Stay tuned for the music categories.

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