Oscar Circuit: Best Sound Editing

5

And the Nominees Are:

Drive
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

Just as my colleague and friend Mike Ward detailed the Best Sound Mixing race (the excellent write up can be found here), I’m diving right in and tackling the Best Sound Editing race. I know that there’s often some confusion about which category is which and what exactly they both do. In short, the Mixing category deals with recording and re-recording, while Editing literally has to do with editing or design in terms of sound. This is in some ways the “sexier” category, but both obviously have their place in terms of importance. I’ll freely admit that I sometimes have a hard time predicting this category, though oddly enough my overall percentage is pretty high for Sound Editing in the end. I guess it just takes me a bit longer than in some other categories to come around to the winner. Will it be the same this year or do I already have the race figured out? Well, let’s find out…

Before we completely dive in, as always, some history. The last 10 winners of the Best Sound Editing Oscar have been Inception, The Hurt Locker, The Dark Knight, The Bourne Ultimatum, Letters from Iwo Jima, King Kong, The Incredibles, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and Pearl Harbor. The two interesting things to note from these previous winners actually comes from their competition, if you can believe it. The Transformers franchise is already 0-1 here, and in 7 of the past 10 years there has been an Animated nominee, making for 8 total, including 1 winner. It speaks a lot to the quality of animation in 2011 that none were able to make the cut. Anyway, let’s get on to the films that actually did make the cut!

Drive is the first nominated film, and it’s probably the second longest shot of the group. Obviously the sound was top notch on the flick, but Nicolas Winding Refn’s meditative movie is hurt by this being its only nomination and the likeliness that this was a situation where the voters decided to throw a popular pick a bone. The editors nominated for the film are Lon Bender (a previous winner for Braveheart) and Victor Ray Ennis (an Oscar newcomer). They were perhaps a surprising inclusion here, and one fully expects them to go home empty-handed. It would be nice if they didn’t, but I’m not expecting much here.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the second film nominated here, and I think it’s the dark horse of the race. David Fincher’s film has flawless technical detail, and that extends over to the sound. His editor in that regard is Ren Klyce, who’s been nominated for 4 other Oscars through Fincher’s work. Could this be the time he finally breaks through? Klyce is actually also nominated for the film’s Sound Mixing as well, so he’s got 2 chances this year. I’m not banking on it happening for him, but this would be the likelier category to do it in if it were to occur.

Hugo is the third nominated flick, and my pick for the likely winner. Martin Scorsese always has his techs at the highest level, and regardless of what anyone thinks of this movie, it’s terrific sound work at play. His nominated editors are Philip Stockton (a first time nominee) and Eugene Gearty (previously nominated for Scorsese’s Gangs of New York). This is the most nominated film of the year, and I doubt that means nothing. I fully expect Hugo to take home a few Oscars, and this seems like a likely category for it to happen. The work is just as worthy as the rest of the nominees, and it’s sitting in the pole position. There’s just one horse keeping it from pulling away (pun intended) in this race…

Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the fourth nominated film, and let’s face it…this one just isn’t happening. If the Academy was set on giving this franchise a category win for the first time, they’d do it in the Mixing category so the often nominated Greg P. Russell could make his 15th nomination the one that finally gets him the Oscar. As for the editors on hand here for Michael Bay’s orgy of robot battles, they are first time nominee Erik Aadahl and two time winner Ethan Van der Ryn. This is the longest shot of the group to me, but I suppose anything is possible at the Oscars, right?

War Horse is the fifth and final film nominated, and the second biggest threat to win, behind Hugo. Steven Spielberg’s a man who never makes a movie without the finest in technicals behind him, and here is no exception. The editors working on the sound are all but covered in gold. Richard Hymns has won 3 Oscars working with The Beard (to go along with now 5 other nominations), while Gary Rydstrom has…wait for it…won 7 Academy Awards (4 of which have come from working with Spielberg) and has a total of 16 nominations on his resume. This makes for a daunting opponent, but right now I don’t see War Horse as a huge threat. That could certainly change, but right now I think it’s the likely runner-up in the category.

I see this category as being between Hugo and War Horse, with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo looming in the background as the possible surprise winner. At this moment my pick has got to be the more embraced film Hugo, but I legitimately think any of the 3 could take it. The only ones out of it are Drive and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which essentially are just happy to be nominated (though I know some consider this one citation for Drive a bit of a slap in the face). There’s definitely the chance that War Horse could build on its often nominated editors and take home the prize, and I wouldn’t be shocked if The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo took advantage of a split vote to win, but the likely outcome is Hugo taking the cake. Things could change though, so definitely stay tuned!

Prediction: Hugo

Snubbed: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Red State (say what you will about the flick, the sound is outstanding), and Super 8

Thoughts? Discuss on the Forum!