Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far .
Today, David Brook of Blueprint: Review is here to look at the Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing Categories.
Sound Mixing & Editing
I’ve ended up covering the not particularly popular Best Sound Mixing and Sound Editing categories again for LAMB Devours the Oscars. This is largely because it’s one of the only categories in which I’ve seen almost all of the nominees, but also because I feel sound in films doesn’t usually get enough attention. People are always quick to praise a film for its stylish cinematography or attractive production design, but the sound design of a film is equally as important to the end product. I guess, like with (visual) editing, if the sound is well mixed and edited you don’t really notice it, which is probably why the louder action, sci-fi and fantasy films get nominated for awards more often than dramas, due to the imaginative and busy nature of their soundtracks. This year has some interesting inclusions though, which I’ll get into later.
I’ve bunched both the mixing and editing awards together for a couple of reasons. For one, although I am aware of the difference between editing and mixing (in a nutshell, the former is about assembling the audio and the latter is about getting the balance right), it can be hard to separate the two when thinking about the ‘best sound’ of the year.
The other reason I’ve grouped them together is that nominees for both categories are almost exactly the same (in terms of films, not crew members). Below are my thoughts on all nominees:
Black Panther (nominated for both)
As mentioned earlier, blockbusters are always up for the sound awards, and since Black Panther is up for several other Oscars, it was a no brainer for inclusion here. It has a chance of winning due to the film’s popularity and its typically dense action/fantasy design, but in my mind (or ears) it wasn’t doing much else that other Marvel movies weren’t doing.
Bohemian Rhapsody (nominated for both)
I must admit I haven’t seen this yet. Its inclusion brings up another popular genre for the sound Oscars to celebrate, the musical (or musician biopic in this case). I guess this and similar films are often in the running because sound plays such a key part in their delivery, but really didn’t the original artists and producers here do the hard work for the most important elements of sound – the songs?
First Man (nominated for both)
Prior to its release, First Man had Oscar written all over it – a recent Oscar winner teams up once again with a popular actor to direct a film about an incredibly famous event. However, it didn’t set the world on fire like it was expected to and seems unlikely to take home any statuettes this year. That said, two categories I think it stands a very good chance in winning are the sound ones. The film left me a little cold, but as a technical achievement it’s superb and sound in particular is powerfully implemented. It rattles your teeth in the intense flight and training sequences, but also successfully minimises the soundtrack at key moments very effectively.
Roma (nominated for both)
This is the nomination I was most happy to see though. The sound design in Roma is astounding. It’s an incredibly quiet film for the most part (especially as there is no non-diegetic music), but, because of this, every little sound matters and each effect is perfectly placed and pitched here to create a soundtrack that beautifully recreates the time and place, setting the audience firmly in the world created. The film’s climax, on the beach, brings the volume up to intense levels too, assisting the devastating power of the sequence. I would love this to win and it stands a good chance, but the Academy tends towards the louder films.
A Quiet Place (nominated for Sound Editing)
Along with Roma, the Academy have nominated another quiet film this year, A Quiet Place. However, it’s audio is not quite as minimally designed as Roma. Although dialogue is fairly minimal and kept at a low volume here, and characters are urged to make as little noise as possible, you’ve still got monster sound effects and a score and such in a typical horror movie fashion. It’s well done though and sound plays a key part in the the film’s scenes of tension. It’s nice that this made it to the lineup then, but I very much doubt it will win.
A Star is Born (nominated for Sound Mixing)
As with Bohemian Rhapsody, this is another music-heavy film getting a nod due to the importance of its soundtrack. Because it’s only up for mixing I doubt it’s going to win. I can’t remember anything particularly special about the soundtrack either, other than the songs. They seem well mixed though and were produced for the film, so I’m not totally against its inclusion here.
Who I think will win: First Man
Who I want to win: Roma, although I wouldn’t argue with First Man
Films that should have also got nominated:
You Were Never Really Here
Cars 3 (movies about cars are prime for teeth rattling audio)