2016 Oscar Circuit: Best Sound Editing

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Welcome to our annual Oscar Circuit series, our deep down look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Circuit 2016. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your predicted winners in the comment section too!

This might be the strongest group of films to ever make the Best Sound Editing category, both in the films’ quality and the quality of the work. Usually this category holds little prejudice, and among many repeat winners in a short period of time, the nominees often attracts huge but derided blockbusters, misfired Oscar bait, and inspired lone nominees such as Drive and All Is Lost. However, for the past 10 years, it’s usually the Best Picture nominees that muscle themselves towards a win, besides the few worthy exceptions. Lets take a look at the past 10 winners.

  • American Sniper (2014) – Alan Robert Murray & Bob Asman
  • Gravity (2013) – Glenn Fremantle
  • Skyfall (2012) – Per Hallberg & Karen Baker Landers / Zero Dark Thirty (2012) – Paul N. J. Ottosson
  • Hugo (2011) – Eugene Gearty & Philip Stockton
  • Inception (2010) – Richard King
  • The Hurt Locker (2009) – Paul N. J. Ottosson
  • The Dark Knight (2008) – Richard King
  • The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – Karen Baker Landers & Per Hallberg
  • Letters From Iwo Jima (2006) – Bub Asman & Alan Robert Murray
  • King Kong (2005) – Mike Hopkins & Ethan Van der Ryn

As you can see, there are 6 repeat winning people among this shortlist. One of them, namely Alan Robert Murray, returns this year. Lets see this year’s nominees:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road – Mark Mangini & David White
  • The Martian – Oliver Tarney
  • The Revenant – Martin Hernandez & Lon Bender
  • Sicario – Alan Robert Murray
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Matthew Wood & David Acord

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

There was one guarantee upon the unsuspecting release of Mad Max: Fury Road. It would be gunning for the Best Sound Editing. Maybe that would be the film’s lone nomination, had the Academy not taken to it so fondly, but it’s arguably the most deserved of its 10 nominations. The gunfire, the explosions, the engines, the burning rubber, the foley work is as sharp as its photography and as intricate as its editing. If Mad Max is winning a bagful of techs, no doubt this is the first one in its hand.

THE MARTIAN

We double dip into space in this category – and two others – and first up is Fall hit The Martian. Space is certainly going to be a popular subgenre for this category after the success of Gravity just a few years ago. Perhaps Interstellar was in second place to American Sniper last year. The Martian has the standard space shuttle launching and operating work but also a new landscape on the environment of Mars to play with. It’s unlikely to challenge Fury Road or really, even Star Wars.

THE REVENANT

Martin Hernandez is a consecutive nominee for working on this year’s The Revenant and last year’s Birdman. In fact he’s one of four consecutive nominees for both films including Alejandro G. Inarritu, Emmanuel Lubezki and sound mixer Frank A. Montano, but Hernandez more likely had the comfort of the sound studio to earn his nomination. Perhaps a spoiler to Mad Max if the film ends up a surprising sweeper, but that’s not to sell short the roar of the battle scenes and, of course, the bear.

SICARIO

This year’s lineup is drawn to weaponry with the exception of the relatively harmless in this lineup Martian. Sicario’s sound editing can be more subtle than its outbursts of blistering assault rifles. It’s earned its nomination through the bubbling tension in its quieter scenes and its marriage between Johann Johannsson’s ominous score, also earning an inspired nomination. However, this is a lucky to be in the team nomination and perhaps last in the pack if we’re ranking them.

starwars2

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

The granddaddy of best sound editing is Star Wars. Despite Ben Burtt’s name being excluded from the roster, The Force Awakens was pencilled in here since the minute they announced what year it would be released in. It has everything a sound editor could dream of. Lightsabers, laser battles, robots, spaceships, alien languages, Chewbacca. The film is – by nature of its franchise – a tapestry of unique and nostalgic sounds. It’s the dark horse for the win here though as the Picture nominees will more likely prevail.

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road. I mean, come on.

Might win: The Revenant. Maybe. Mixing is probably more likely.

Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road. I’m not even a fan of the film but nobody can deny the remarkable work in the sound department. Not me, not your mother, not the Academy.

CHECK OUT THE OFFICIAL OSCAR PREDICTIONS FOR ALL CATEGORIES:

PICTURE |DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS |SUPPORTING ACTOR |SUPPORTING ACTRESS |ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY |ADAPTED SCREENPLAY |ANIMATED FEATURE |PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT