Alright, I’m lumping two categories together, but not out of insensitivity. One of the big complaints from people who think the Oscar telecast is too long (yes, those people do exist), is always that there are too may categories, and one particular punching bag for them is the fact that there are two different sound categories. Now, I understand (as much as someone who isn’t a sound expert can understand these matters) that mixing and editing are two different fields, that require certain different talents and come into action at different points in the production of a movie. I respect the Academy for separating between the two crafts, respecting the differences between mixers and editors. However, this distinction becomes a double-edged sword when the Academy ends up voting for the same movies in both categories. Ever since the Sound Editing category was expanded from three to five nominees, both awards have gone to the same movie four out of six times. And as far as nominations go, the categories usually have a three or four contender overlap. This year, there are four movies nominated for Mixing and Editing (Gravity, Lone Survivor, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and Captain Phillips).
The other big complaint about the categories is that they usually nominate Best Picture contenders just because they’re popular Oscar movies, while ignoring movies that might not have been as well-received, but feature some really impressive use of sound (not to mention any movie whose use of sound relies on silence rather than big explotions). This year, I think there were too very good examples of sound being essential to the plot of a movie in Stoker and World War Z that were ignored on account of not being big hits with critics or audiences. On the other side of the spectrum, this was actually a year in which the presumed front-runner for Best Picture, 12 Years a Slave, actually features some incredibly sound work, which is as important (if not more) in achieving the film’s emotional punch as its visuals.
The reason I’m going into tangents about what is and isn’t nominated by the Academy is that I’m not particularly excited about either of these races. Mainly, for two reasons. First, that the movies I want to win are most likely going to be ignored. Inside Llewyn Davis and All is Lost were both big players that were practically ignored come nomination morning. They don’t seem to have much support, even if they are by far the best nominee in their respective categories. Not that that will matter, since Gravity is bound to wipe the floor with the other four finalists in both races. I think the use of sound in Gravity, especially its mixing, which relies way too much on its overbearing score, was the most irritating aspect of the movie afters its silly screenplay. Don’t expect me to be too upset about the win, though, as I understand how it is exactly the kind of movie that wins this award.
Will Win: Gravity (Mixing and Editing)
My Pick: Inside Llewyn Davis (Mixing), All is Lost (Editing)