We’ve spent a lot of time with the top 8 categories (Picture, Director, Acting, Screenplays) so now it’s time to dip into the techs, which can see a very different group of films represented. Today we’re going to look at Film Editing and the Sound categories – Editing and Mixing.
So, what’s the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing anyway? Dolby Labs, the world’s premiere sound laboratory, explains it like this:
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]- A production mixer records on-set sounds, including actor dialogue and background elements, such as sirens, a dog barking, or a lion’s roar. [/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]Most films use some amount of ADR (which stands for either automated dialogue replacement or additional dialogue recording, depending on whom you ask), rerecording dialogue that wasn’t properly captured on the set, either because of background noise or because the director or actor wants to try a different way to deliver a line.[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]The sound editing team, meanwhile, works away from the set creating designed sound, which includes sonic effects like R2-D2’s language of trills, beeps, and whistles in Star Wars, or creative enhancements to existing sounds—amping the ferocity of a lion’s roar, say. Foley artists work in a studio creating classic sound effects—moving shoes in a box of gravel to recreate footsteps, for instance.[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]In the meantime, the composer is writing music for any scenes that need it and getting that music recorded.[/box]
[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=””]A sound mixer’s job is to then mix those on-set recordings with the editors’ designed sounds and the music to create a beautiful—or scary, or tense, or sad—mosaic that becomes the movie’s soundtrack.[/box]
Hopefully that helps.
While you’ll see a lot of crossover between the two lists you’ll also see the differences. Films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road appear at the top of both lists because both of these films contain all of the elements that build a perfect contender. Loud, lots of action and music and the right person or people to bring it all together. Star Wars has an especially good track record here: Episode IV – A New Hope and Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back won the Sound category back in 1978 and 1981 (before it was split), Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and Episode I – The Phantom Menace were nominated. Now, the franchise dropped off with nominations heavily after The Phantom Menace. Episodes II and III managed just Visual Effects and/or Makeup. But, for the new film, Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, director J.J. Abrams has brought back Ben Burtt, the Oscar winner for Sound from the first film and the most prolific Oscar winner in the sound categories, Gary Rydstrom. Rydstrom has won SEVEN Oscars for his sound mixing and editing and six of those were winning both categories in the same year in three different years. You can see why Star Wars: The Force Awakens is our #1 film in both categories.
Elsewhere, the blockbuster return of Mad Max sees that film strongly locked in 2nd place in both Editing and Mixing. The Revenant and Bridge of Spies are holding stronger in Sound Mixing than in the top categories right now. This is probably because Sound Mixing is often a combination of the loudest films of the year and films that are nominated for Best Picture. Remember when The King’s Speech and Argo were nominated here? Music-based films are always strong contenders in Sound Mixing and this year sees two musical biopics in the running. I Saw the Light and Miles Ahead both feature musical performances that are integrated into the film’s sound and even though I Saw the Light has a small lead over Miles Ahead at the moment, I expect that to change in the coming months.
Animated films often do well in both Sound categories, especially in Editing. With so many sounds and noises that aren’t organic and need to be created animated films often find a place here and Inside Out is the clear representative. Sound Editors also really love to nominate movies with lots of gunfire and shootouts which is why you see Sicario and Spectre here. The last James Bond film, Skyfall, tied with Zero Dark Thirty for the Sound Editing Oscar in 2013. Even though The Hateful Eight sits at the bottom with a single vote, it should be noted that Tarantino’s last two films (Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained) were both nominated in Sound Editing with Basterds also grabbing a Sound Mixing nom. I expect to see that film rise.
[divider style=”solid” top=”20″ bottom=”20″]
Film Editing often used to be seen as the bellwether to the Best Picture Oscar winner back in the day. The coordination between the two categories was very co-mingled but in the last 10 or 15 years the Film Editing Oscar has split from Best Picture and sometimes rewarded action or sci-fi films like The Matrix, Black Hawk Down, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It also sometimes favors films with the most editing, like Slumdog Millionaire (which was also the BP frontrunner) or films that have large casts and stories that need to be sewn together seamlessly like Traffic or Crash. This year The Revenant has a big lead in the race but when you look at our frontrunner list you’ll find films that, as I mention above, run the gamut of types of film that win here. In 2nd place is Joy, a straightforward comedy-drama. But, with Joy as the #1 film in Best Picture and Best Director from The Gold Rush Gang its placement makes sense. Plus, David O. Russell’s last comedy-drama effort, Silver Linings Playbook, pulled off a Film Editing nomination. Bridge of Spies still holds on here and that’s on the strength of Spielberg’s longtime editor Michael Kahn at the helm. The three-time Oscar winner (all for Spielberg films) is a formidable opponent. Suffragette holds strong as Best Picture contender looking for a Film Editing companion nomination as does Beasts of No Nation and Carol.
Don’t forget, you can always get up to the minute Oscar predictions from the Gold Rush Gang on all of our 2016 Oscar Prediction Charts:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS