Welcome to the 2019 CIRCUIT CONSIDERATIONS series. Highlighting the very best in film, acting, and technical achievements for the past 12 months that awards voters may need help remembering. Each day a different writer will make their plea for a specific film in a respective category. If you miss one, click the tag “Circuit Considerations 2019,” and if you have some suggestions, include them in the comments below!
If you walk out of “Ford v Ferrari,” James Mangold’s thrilling action-biopic, with only one takeaway, odds are it will be the film’s sensational soundscape. Mangold puts you in the proverbial driver’s seat for the recreation of the nearly 40-minute long 1966 Le Mans sequence, capturing the most realistic racing scenes I’ve ever witnessed. The breakneck edits and terrific cinematography by Phedon Papamichael do more than their share to intensify the cramped and narrow cockpit from which Ken Miles (Christian Bale) maneuvers his Shelby-enhanced Ford GT40. But it is the sound design that propels this film across the finish line.
The team that collaborated on the Sound Mixing end of business strongly deserves consideration for not only the nomination but the win as well. That team is led by David Giammarco, Steven Morrow, and Paul Massey. Their creation was custom-made for Dolby Atmos and delivers a hypnotic experience that is incomparable to anything else I heard on the big screen this year. Recorded on race tracks in my home state of Ohio (as well as Florida), the team worked to capture the untamed and guttural growls of the immense torque of the vehicles.
There is a lot more going on in “Ford v Ferrari” than just its vivid race scenes. There is a deeply personal story being told here as well, both for the prolific car designer, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), and his rowdy and reckless driver, Miles (Bale). Their relationship arc is essential to the emotion of the race itself, and so the dialogue must compete with the revving of engines. There is a perfect balance needed in what sound is added and what sound is removed in order to make this work, and it is wholly achieved thanks to the impeccable work of the sound mix team. The result is a finely-tuned, fully-immersive cinematic experience.
Massey is an eight-time Oscar-nominee for his career work in sound mixing. He was nominated for “Legends of the Fall” (1994), “Air Force One” (1997), “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (2003), “Walk the Line” (2005), “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (2006), “3:10 to Yuma” (2007), “The Martian” (2015), and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018), for which he finally won his first Oscar.
Giammarco is a past two-time nominee for Sound Mixing. He was nominated for “3:10 to Yuma” (2007) and “Moneyball” (2011).
Morrow was also previously nominated twice in this category: “La La Land” (2016) and “A Star Is Born” (2018).