Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2012: Sound Mixing

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.

(a film’s overall sound)






This is much the same race as Best Sound Editing, but with Drive switched out for Moneyball.

Moneyball is the least obvious nominee of the bunch, and it’s because of this — not because it doesn’t perfectly capture the crack of the baseball bat or the echoey tones of the flashback scenes — that it bottoms out my list. It also doesn’t help that Ed Novick snagged the trophy last year for Inception, nor that Deb Adair and Ron Bochar are Oscar newcomers. Moneyball is the longest shot here.

If Moneyball‘s nomination came out of left field, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, was the no-brainer. The robot battle actually has a decent chance here because there’s just so. much. sound. And while I think it’s a bit of an aural attack — screaming, shattering glass, grinding gears, bashing ‘bots — there’s a huge amount of expertise at work here: not only is this Greg P. Russell’s third nomination for the series, it’s his fifteenth nomination altogether, yet he still hasn’t got a single Oscar to his name. Add  to that insanity Jeffrey Haboush and Peter J. Devlin who also have  a few nominations each to their names, and this is the group that is “due” a win (but they won’t get it).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won’t win, but it’s certainly worthy. What’s so fantastic about this group — David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson — is that their care for the overall sound is so intricately detailed, accounting for the desolate Swedish winter and the  cool, detached characters with boots stomping through snow, fingers flying across keyboards, winds whistling through doorways. Then, suddenly, those sounds we thought were just the wind seamlessly become musical — or is it just the wind after all? — and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s beautifully unnerving score takes over (we’ll get to that Oscar snub later). The way this group of sound mixers integrates and overlaps each type of aural effect to achiever Fincher’s vision is truly fantastic.

But really this race comes down to two: War Horse more obviously relies on sound — those majestic battle scenes and John Williams’s sweeping score — and once again, Spielberg didn’t scrimp on the talent. We’ve already gone over Gary Rydstrom’s seven wins and sixteen nominations, but working alongside him are Andy Nelson (he and Rydstrom shared a win for Saving Private Ryan), also on nomination sixteen, and eight-time nominee Tom Johnson (co-winner with Rydstrom for Terminator 2 and Titanic) — that’s an impressive resume for the other nominees to overcome.

But despite War Horse‘s clout in this category, Hugo is by far the favorite film, and with its tinkering toys, ticking clocks, chugging choo-choos and crowds of chatty Parisians making up a happily busy train station, it will more than likely earn Tom Fleischman and John Midgley their first wins.


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This entry was posted on February 7, 2012 by in Award Predictions, Film Reviews, Oscar-Nominated, Sound Design and tagged .



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