TRACKING THE OSCARS: Sounding Off on the Nominees

One of my observations from the weekend’s Critics Choice and Golden Globe nominations is that Nine no longer stands a chance in many of the major Oscar categories, but what about the tech categories? Musicals have long been an Academy favorite for their cinematography and art direction. However, one category has been unfairly skewed in favor of musicals for the past decade – sound mixing.

So will Nine, 2009’s sole musical, find its way into the Best Sound Mixing category this year? Word from the industry is that it won’t win and likely won’t even be nominated. With that out of the way, which films are left? A relatively new website called SoundWorks Collection provides sound mixing profiles for some of the year’s biggest films. Check out my predictions for Best Sound Mixing with the available SoundWorks profiles after the jump.

1) Avatar
Sound Mixing Team:
Christopher Boyes, Tony Johnson, William B. Kaplan, Andy Nelson, Gary Summers, James M. Tanenbaum

Whenever a film comes along that is deemed a technical achievement, it seems to propel to the front of almost every technical category. Avatar has fantastic sound, but the real achievement is in the visual effects department. The sound for Avatar is going along for the ride.

2) Star Trek
Sound Mixing Team: Anna Behlmer, Peter J. Devlin, David Giammarco, Paul Massey, Andy Nelson

Star Trek‘s sound achievement is phenomenal as it blends original sci-fi sound effects into the silence of space and mix it with one of the best scores of the year. J.J. Abrams’ film is gradually gaining steam in every category and has a slight chance of overtaking Avatar.

3) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Sound Mixing Team: Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Geoffrey Patterson

In 2007, there was some controversy when the Transformers Sound Mixing team of Greg P. Russell and Kevin O’Connell lost the Oscar to the sound mixing team of Dreamgirls (musical again) and Dreamgirls sound mixer Mike Minkler insulted O’Connell backstage. Well, O’Connell didn’t come back for Transformers 2, but his longtime partner Greg Russell, did and he’s found himself back in position for Oscar contention. The sound of Transformers is by far the best part of the film (arguably the only good part) and if the Academy regrets their previous snub, perhaps they will reward the sequel.

4) The Hurt Locker
Sound Mixing Team: Ray Beckett, Chris M. Jacobson, Paul N.J. Ottoson

Kathryn Bigelow’s fantastic film is incredibly layered, both visually and aurally. The sound mixing effort is incredible with a lot of “not-quite silent” scenes that create fantastic suspense. There’s a scene wherein Jeremy Renner’s character disassembles a bomb in a car that had just been on fire. All you hear are his steady breathing, and the sound of the metal of the car slowly cracking from the fire. It’s a beautiful sound scene that is just a microcosm for the great sound effort that is The Hurt Locker.

5) District 9
Sound Mixing Team: Michael Hedges, Louise Mycielski

Neill Blomkamp’s film had one of the lowest budgets of the year for a blockbuster, but it still managed to have in one of the most impressive technical efforts of the year. The sound is gritty, but incredibly realistic and it adds so much to the inventive filming style of Blomkamp.

Other Possibilities: Up, 2012, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

View the Sound Mixing Oscar Charts

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  • G

    Louise Mycielski did not mix District 9. Can you correct this.

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