Thursday, February 18, 2016

27 Days of Oscar: Day 17, a look at Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Original Score (analysis and early predicts)

I'm definitely beginning to feel the Oscar pressure. 

I keep seeing my memory posts on FB...and at this point I had not only published my foreign film piece, but I had also watched the shorts!  I haven't even requested links for the shorts yet.  How have I not done that? 


Tomorrow I am thankfully off work from my day job, so I can get that piece published and also watch "45 Years" and "Trumbo" completing the acting categories. 

In the meantime, I thought I would touch on some of the categories I have completed.  First off: Original Score, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

For those of you who don't know...and for those like me who need a yearly refresher here is the breakdown of not only what the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing but also how it ties into the music for the film.

Practically speaking, a film’s sound comes together this way:
  • A production mixer records on-set sounds, including actor dialogue and background elements, such as sirens, a dog barking, or a lion’s roar.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In the meantime, the composer is writing music for any scenes that need it and getting that music recorded.
  • 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.
As much as I would love to take credit for that, I can't...Thank you Dolby!!

So, let's look at each category.  Let's begin with the actual composer and Original Score.

The nominees are:
"Carol" (Carter Burwell)
"Sicario" (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
"The Hateful Eight" (Ennio Morricone)
"Bridge of Spies" (Thomas Newman)
"Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens" (John Williams)

For me, there is one obvious winner...if I was voting that is.  Carter Burwell's score for "Carol" was like another character in the film, just like the costume design and the production design.  I am not alone in my thinking here.  And if I get risky with my predictions, I would say that "Carol" could beat the predicted "The Hateful Eight."  But the Academy's lukewarm reception toward "Carol" at least in terms of nominations makes me doubtful.  I thoroughly enjoyed "The Hateful Eight."  More so than most of my colleagues in the Oscar watching world.  But I found its score...fine.  But Morricone has never won.  I don't remember any of the "Bridge of Spies" score.  Clearly not the highlight of that film for me. (That goes to Rylance's nominated performance.) I do very much remember "Sicario"'s score being spectacularly simple....but not up to "Carol" par for me.  The spoiler here in terms of the win..."Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  We shall see.

Now on to the "composer,"  the Sound Editors.  (Why don't they just call them Sound Designers!!??)

The nominees are:
"Mad Max: Fury Road" 
"The Martian"
"The Revenant"
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens"

In terms of design, I would have to go with either "Mad Max: Fury Road" or "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  Obvious picks, in my opinion.  If, IF, "The Revenant" sweeps...which is absolutely possible, it could win this award.  In the past 5 years Sound Editing has gone to films that have not won Best Picture.  Not since "The Hurt Locker."  Which was a shock to many.  (Not me.)  I honestly think this award goes to "Mad Max: Fury Road."  The Academy is going to want to honor this film.   And I think it certainly deserves it.

And Mixing:

The nominees:
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens"
"Mad Max: Fury Road" 
"The Martian"
"The Revenant"
"Bridge of Spies"

Ok...again...with the sweep, "The Revenant" is the winner...but again...not sine "The Hurt Locker" has a Best Picture winner taken this award either.  (Yeah....did I forget to mention that as of now I'm going with "The Revenant" for Best Pic?)  If you look at the Dolby description "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" seems the obvious choice.  Taking every element and putting them together, you have to go with the movie with Droids and lightsabers. Right?!

Anwyay...those are my thoughts.  Don't hold me to any of this in terms of predictions.  Not yet. 


  1. I agree. These categories are hard to pick in a vacuum because they certainly seem to be inversely correlated with best picture votes. Having said that, Mad Max: Fury Road 4 Life!

  2. YES! Mad Max: Fury Road 4 Life INDEED!


27 Days of Oscar, Day 17: Fighting the queer fight and Production Design

Reading that headline makes me laugh a bit. "Fighting the queer fight and Production Design." Not quite the perfect combination...