Sound and fury, signifying…an Oscar nomination? That’s the hope of some of the powerhouse films with complicated sound design in a year largely devoid of the type of blockbusters that normally populate this (now single) category.
While The Midnight Sky, Tenet and News of the World exemplify those kinds of films and should find a place here, this year also brings the very specific sound design of Sound of Metal, where we experience the loss of hearing from Riz Ahmed, a punk drummer going deaf after years of high decibel concerts.
It’s also a good place to see how strong a Best Picture contender is that doesn’t normally fit into this category. If Nomadland or The Trial of the Chicago 7 find a spot here you can be assured that there is enough broad support to push it over the top. In this case, Trial stands a much better shot as it features riots, crowds, gunshots and more while Nomadland is such a quiet and still film but poetically incorporates its score and minimal sound design.
Soul makes a pretty big drop this month even though it seems like it should be a lock here. Like Sound of Metal, music is such an integral part of the film and its score is easily the #1 contender so why not sound? Looking back, animated films (specifically Disney/Pixar) nearly always scored nominations here, especially in the 2000s. The last animated film to show up in either Sound Editing or Sound Mixing was 2010’s Toy Story 3 (it got into Sound Editing). Incidentally, that was also the second of only two years of the expanded Best Picture lineup of a straight ten nominees where it was also the last animated film nominated there.
Here are my ranked 2021 Oscar predictions in Sound for February.
Green – moves up ↑; Red – moves down ↓; Blue – new entry this month +; Black – no change ↔
1. The Midnight Sky ↔ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist
Randy Thom, Dan Hiland, Todd Beckett, Danny Hambrook, Bjorn Schroeder
2. Sound of Metal ↑ (Amazon Studios) – BAFTA longlist
Phillip Bladh, Nicolas Becker, Jaime Baksht, Michelle Couttolenc, Carlos Cortés, Carolina Santana
3. Tenet ↑ (Warner Bros) – BAFTA longlist
Richard King, Mark Larry, Kevin O’Connell, Gary A. Rizzo
4. News of the World ↑ (Universal Pictures) – BAFTA longlist
John Pritchett, Mike Prestwood Smith, William Miller, Oliver Tarney, Michael Fentum
5. Mank ↔ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist
Ren Klyce, Jeremy Molod, David Parker, Nathan Nance, Drew Kunin
6. The Trial of the Chicago 7 ↑ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist
Renee Tondelli, Dan Kenyon, Julian Slater, Michael Babcock, Thomas Varga
7. Soul ↓ (Disney/Pixar) – BAFTA longlist
Coya Ellitt, Ren Klick, David Parker, Vince Caro
8. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom ↑ (Netflix) – BAFTA longlist
Skip Lievsay, Paul Urmson, Dane Lonsdale
9. Da 5 Bloods ↓ (Netflix)
Philip Stockton, Paul Hsu, José Antonio García
10. Nomadland ↑ (Searchlight Pictures) – BAFTA longlist
Sergio Diaz, Zach Seivers, M. Wolf Snyder
Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) ↔ (Warner Bros)
Greyhound ↔ (Apple TV+) – BAFTA longlist
Odin Benitez, Jason King, Christian P. Minkler, Michael Minkler, Jeff Sawyer
The Invisible Man ↔ (Universal Pictures) – BAFTA longlist
Paul “Salty” Brincat, Will Files, P.K. Hooker
Judas and the Black Messiah ↔ (Warner Bros)
Marlowe Taylor, Rich Bologna, Skip Lievsay
Mulan ↔ (Walt Disney Pictures)
Anna Behlmer, Jonathan Borland, Pascal Garneau, Scott Guitteau
The Outpost ↓ (Screen Media Films)
Emil Evtimov, Kris Casavant, Gord Hillier, Robert Fernandez, Ryan Nowak
Photo credit: Niko Tavernise / Netflix