Categories One-by-Two: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

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dws1982
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Re: Categories One-by-Two: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

Postby dws1982 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 4:54 pm

OscarGuy, if I were trying to think of a Sound Editing winner that's analogous to A Quiet Place, I would probably look at Arrival. (Although I do agree that it is the kind of film that could have been nominated in Sound Mixing, and if I remember correctly, several of us predicted that it would be.) A lot of us who went with Hacksaw Ridge in that category thought that its sustained combat in the last half would put it over the top. But it turned out that the voters went with the movie where the specific sound effects that were created were integral to the film on a plot/thematic level. I do think the fact that sound is so integral to the film will help A Quiet Place. Also the fact that the Sound Editing category will probably play into its favor. The voters have trended towards more broadly-supported films in this category, but you guys have made a good case for it and I wouldn't be shocked to see it win. (I've probably been a little more dismissive of it because I haven't seen it yet--it's one of a small number that I haven't got around to yet.)

And yes, Tee, I totally agree that the sound editors--along the cinematographers--prevented a twelve (or thirteen) Oscar sweep for Return of the King. And speaking of Peter Jackson films: It wasn't eligible this year--maybe it will be next year, since it's in commercial release now--but by far the most impressive sound effects work I've seen in several years was the sound that Peter Jackson had his crew create for They Shall Not Grow Old.

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Re: Categories One-by-Two: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:00 pm

dws1982 wrote:Only two times have these categories split between two films nominated in both categories: Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight in 2008, and Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival in 2016. That doesn't mean that voters consciously think about these things, but I think it does mean that in many years voters see these awards as a package deal ... I think a lot of voters bunch these two awards together, unless there's a really compelling reason not to do so.


I think this has definitely become the case since Sound Effects Editing was expanded to five, as it indicated the branch viewed the two as practically identical -- previously there had been a lot more variance at the margins, enough that people saw Sound Mixing as a more mainstream category (one that could include musicals and best picture contenders), while Effects Editing was strictly for the tech whizzes. When the categories started matching 4- or 5-for-5, the distinction got mostly lost.

dws1982 wrote:In 2016 ... No one was quite sure what would happen in Sound Editing, but most predictions I saw were pretty evenly split between Hacksaw Ridge and eventual winner Arrival. Hacksaw Ridge winning Sound Mixing was the surprise, putting Kevin O'Connell out of his misery, and serving as an omen for La La Land's eventual fate that evening.


When Arrival won Editing, I was confident Hacksaw Ridge was going 0-for-the night. I agree with your thesis, that it was the fact more than two films were involved (La La/Arrival/Hacksaw) that made a more random result possible. It's why I so hate the blogger tendency to narrow categories down; it reduces the chances of a real surprise.

dws1982 wrote:Now, 2008: The Dark Knight wins Editing, while Slumdog Millionaire wins Mixing. Slumdog Millionaire is an odd case, and I doubt it would've been nominated in Editing in a year before the category expanded.


Slumdog is the only recent case of a movie winning the Sound Mixing category simply because it was the best picture favorite or runner-up. Such a thing used to happen with moderate frequency -- In the Heat of the Night, All the President's Men, Out of Africa, The Last Emperor, The English Patient -- but, in recent years, a film has generally needed music or techie cred to compete. It may be that the Effects nomination gave Slumdog a push -- or simply that it was the closest to a landslide winner as we've had in the past decade-plus.

dws1982 wrote:Sometimes you've had movies that, for whatever reason, won Sound Mixing but just weren't nominated for Sound Editing: ... Lord of the Rings: Return of the King ... probably would've been nominated in a Sound Editing field of five, and ...probably would've won both Sound awards if ... nominated. During those years, the Sound Editing branch was almost as absurd as the Makeup branch tends to be, boxing out plenty of acclaimed and popular movies that easily could've won the final vote.


I'd argue that this capriciousness of the Sound Editing group, single-handed, kept Return of the King from holding undisputed first place on the all-time Oscar win list.

dws1982 wrote:And of course, you have your fluke years, where a movie slips through a muddled field and wins the Sound Mixing award: The Last of the Mohicans and Bird. Bird is a bit of an exception, maybe--it had won a technical prize at Cannes, and was pretty widely-acclaimed in the way it remixed and integrated Charlie Parker's recordings into the soundtrack. The Last of the Mohicans was a stranger case--that was a lineup where really Unforgiven is the only other nominee makes sense as a winner.


That rationale for Bird's win was widely circulated after the fact, but I don't know if anyone can appreciate what a stunner the choice was in real time. The Mixing prize (then known as Achievement in Sound) had for decades been going to prominently-in-the-race films: best picture mainstays, lots of musicals, war films...and occasionally widespread-tech contenders, like Earthquake or Grand Prix. What they never (in my experience) did was choose a film for which this was a sole nomination. (Even off-beat 50s selections like South Pacific, The Great Caruso or Breaking the Sound Barrier had at least one or two additional nods.) The last time (previous to Bird) voters had made such a choice was in 1943, when they went for an (unknown to me) Renoir film called This Land is Mine -- and that was in the era of "every studio gets a nomination", so who knows how votes broke down in a double-digit field. This was a truly oddball choice: Die Hard or Who Framed Roger Rabbit? made much more sense as predictions.

Then they did the same thing four years later with The Last of the Mohicans. I remember, as they were reading the nominees that night, that Mohicans seemed the best choice to me, and too bad it had no chance. I have no explanation for its win, except, as you say, nothing on the whole slate jumped out as win material

FINALLY...to the category this year:

In Mixing, I do agree Roma is more likely a branch enthusiasm than an Academy-wide one. I think music could give the upper hand to either Bohemian or A Star is Born...and, startlingly (given where the season started), Bohemian seems to be the stronger candidate. But it's not impossible voters could go for a heavy-tech choice, and I think dws is correct that Black Panther, as both a bigger hit and best picture contender, should outweigh First Man -- though there is the fact that so many space movies have won this prize, from The Right Stuff through Gravity. I guess what I'm saying, overall, is I have no idea, and think anything but Roma could win.

In Editing, I think Roma is an even less likely contender, and I'd rule out Bohemian Rhapsody as well, since music has no history in the category. But the other three seem all solidly in the race, and I'm with Oscar Guy in thinking you don't want to go to sleep on A Quiet Place. This is a movie that's ABOUT sound: practically its entire concept relies on effects. That the branch didn't nominate it for Mixing is on them, not on the Academy overall -- given the chance to vote for an unexpected hit that got good reviews, a lot of folks might go its way. I think this is very much a three-way race.

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Re: Categories One-by-Two: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

Postby OscarGuy » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:02 am

By your rationale, DWS, would A Quiet Place fit into the "surprised it wasn't nominated in mixing" category? Most people were predicting it to get nominated there as well and, unlike the other Sound Editing nominations, it fits the category really well in what it accomplishes and voters CAN easily recognize that since there's no dialogue. Wouldn't that also naturally suggest that voters might vote for it because it's the most unique and recognizable?
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Re: Categories One-by-Two: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

Postby Big Magilla » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:34 am

I would vote for First Man in both categories, but I can see them giving sound mixing to Bohemian Rhapsody and sound editing to Black Panther.

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Re: Categories One-by-Two: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

Postby dws1982 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:08 am

Only two times have these categories split between two films nominated in both categories: Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight in 2008, and Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival in 2016. That doesn't mean that voters consciously think about these things, but I think it does mean that in many years voters see these awards as a package deal (Dunkirk, Mad Max: Fury Road, Gravity, Hugo, Inception, The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Ultimatum, King Kong, The Matrix, Saving Private Ryan, Titanic). I think a lot of voters bunch these two awards together, unless there's a really compelling reason not to do so.

If we're going to entertain the possibility of a split this year, it's helpful to look at split years:
In 2016, La La Land was the popular prediction for Sound Mixing, but no one, save those poor lost souls who were predicting it to go 14/14 on Oscar night, was giving it much chance in Editing. No one was quite sure what would happen in Sound Editing, but most predictions I saw were pretty evenly split between Hacksaw Ridge and eventual winner Arrival. Hacksaw Ridge winning Sound Mixing was the surprise, putting Kevin O'Connell out of his misery, and serving as an omen for La La Land's eventual fate that evening. But one notable thing about this split--both Arrival and especially Hacksaw Ridge--are the types of films that, in another year, might've easily walked off with both Sound awards. Most people were predicting these awards to split, but I don't think anyone got the split right. I'd love to know the vote totals on these awards, because I would guess that these categories were pretty close. And, mathematically speaking, when multiple outcomes are equally likely, the results tend to be more random. This split, in my mind, was mostly the result of every-which-way voting that probably resulted in those two movies just pulling ahead in the Sound categories.

Now, 2008: The Dark Knight wins Editing, while Slumdog Millionaire wins Mixing. Slumdog Millionaire is an odd case, and I doubt it would've been nominated in Editing in a year before the category expanded. Skimming through our Oscar predictions thread, the most common prediction was The Dark Knight for both (which would've made sense), with the next most common prediction was The Dark Knight for Mixing and Wall-E for Editing. Again, the categories split, but in a different direction than we thought.

Now those years are the anomalies. Let's look at the other, more conventional years.

Sometimes you've had movies that, for whatever reason, won Sound Mixing but just weren't nominated for Sound Editing: Glory, Apollo 13, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. But nothing since the category went to five really fits this bill. I think all of those movies probably would've been nominated in a Sound Editing field of five, and several of them probably would've won both Sound awards if they'd been nominated. During those years, the Sound Editing branch was almost as absurd as the Makeup branch tends to be, boxing out plenty of acclaimed and popular movies that easily could've won the final vote. A lot of the winners in the category during this era give off a real vibe of "well something had to win".

Then you have movies that weren't really conventional Sound Editing contenders that won Sound Mixing--Whiplash, Les Miserables, Dreamgirls, Ray, Chicago, The English Patient, and Dances With Wolves. These tend to be musicals or cases of the Big Movie of the Night taking it in a sweep, and in a lot of those years, the Sound Editing winner was something that probably could've won Sound Mixing as well in a different year. (1996 is a big exception, and the only year since the category was reinstated where there was no overlap between the two categories.)

Then there are the weird years where the Sound Editing winner wasn't, for whatever reason, nominated for Sound Mixing, even though they would've made sense as Sound Mixing nominees and even winners: Zero Dark Thirty, (although co-winner Skyfall was nominated for Mixing), Letters From Iwo Jima, maybe Bram Stoker's Dracula too.

And of course, you have your fluke years, where a movie slips through a muddled field and wins the Sound Mixing award: The Last of the Mohicans and Bird. Bird is a bit of an exception, maybe--it had won a technical prize at Cannes, and was pretty widely-acclaimed in the way it remixed and integrated Charlie Parker's recordings into the soundtrack. The Last of the Mohicans was a stranger case--that was a lineup where really Unforgiven is the only other nominee makes sense as a winner.

-----------------
So let's look at this year, Sound Mixing first:
Roma seems exactly like the kind of film that can impress Sound Branch members with its work, while being a little too unconventional for the main membership. Maybe, in a Big Movie of the Night sweep, but much more conventionally-noisy Best Picture winners and nominees have been stopped in the Sound categories by something that was more conventionally-noisy. I'd also drop A Star is Born. There was a time when I thought it seemed like a possible winner here, but its momentum has hit a brick wall over the past several weeks that will put this category out of reach.

Bohemian Rhapsody probably has a claim on this award along the lines of, "We really liked hearing those Queen songs", similar to the way Ray jumped ahead of the field in 2004. It's not a vote that I would ever make, but this award would be less absurd than the Editing award that it has a very real shot at winning. I think it definitely has upset potential.

Black Panther and First Man seem like the strongest two contenders. I've been very clear since October that I loved First Man--I think it's the best movie in a couple of years--but, sadly, Oscar voters didn't. We can say that Black Panther missed out on some nominations that it probably should've gotten, but it missed categories where it was never going to be anything but a ballot-filler. First Man missed out on several categories, including two--Editing and Score--where it was thought to be in contention for the win. Voters are never going to award Black Panther Best Picture, but as a nominee, I would probably put it as the stronger contender between it and First Man.

Sound Editing:
Bohemian Rhapsody is the most absurd nominee in this category since Argo at least, and I would rate its chances here as infinitesimal. Roma, again, is the type of film that may impress members of the Sound Branch, but voters will most likely look elsewhere for the win. A Quiet Place is the type of film that probably could've pulled off the win under the old system, where the category frequently had one or two films that were only nominated in this category. But since this category has expanded, the type of winner has changed as well--the winners have been mostly Best Picture nominees, with the few non-Best Picture nominees being films that had several other tech nominations.

So, again, I think this comes down to Black Panther and First Man. I could see either of these taking both Sound awards, or I could see the two awards split between them, although I couldn't really guess how the categories would split. I would think that First Man would be more likely to win here than in Sound Mixing, because some of those flight scenes and launch scenes have some really impressive sound effects. But, I tend to think that voters don't split these categories unless there's a compelling reason to do so. And I think Black Panther is going to be a reasonable enough choice in both categories for many voters.

So I would say, most likely outcome is Black Panther for both.

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Categories One-by-Two: Sound Editing & Sound Mixing

Postby anonymous1980 » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:49 pm

Sound Editing nominees:
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
A Quiet Place
Roma


Sound Mixing nominees:
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
First Man
Roma
A Star is Born


I thought I'd mush these two together for obvious reasons. Oftentimes, these awards go to the "loudest", most technical Best Picture nominee usually war films or action films or musicals, the latter in the Mixing category. Sometimes they go to the same movie, sometimes they split it. This year, there's no telling where they would go. They could give both to Black Panther as it's the loudest Best Picture nominee. They could give both to Roma as it's widely touted as a sound achievement especially those who saw it on the big screen with Dolby Atmos. They could give both to First Man as a consolation prize. They could give Mixing to one or Editing to another.

For now, I'm going with Black Panther for Sound Editing and Roma for Mixing.


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