Monday, March 23, 2009

"One Category at a Time": Best Sound Mixing

How screwed up is the Academy when it comes to the sound categories? The failure of WALL-E to win either of those awards just proves what we already knew; that in general, the Academy just doesn't understand what good sound design is. If they did, they would not have simply voted for their favourite film of the nominated five, and WALL-E would have won both by a country mile. Disgusting.

Okay, rant over. But this year looks like another disappointing Oscar outcome is shaping up. Specifically, I'm referring to the legendary Kevin O'Connell, who has an opportunity to break his infamous losing streak of 0-20 this year with Michael Mann's Public Enemies. It looks like it will have enough volume to satisfy the sound branch's affinity for loud action, but it also has the gloss of a prestige picture which gives it an edge over more typical summer entertainment. Alas, I am concerned that O'Connell may once again find himself in the position of losing to a musical if Rob Marshall's Nine gets nominated. When prestigious musicals make it in they're hard to beat, even if there are more deserving nominees. In short, I don't like the looks of this...

As far as other likely contenders go, O'Connells former partner Greg P. Russell (also an Oscar bridesmaid with a record of 0-15) may be up against his friend for the second installment of the Transformers franchise. Everyone was surprised when Transformers won neither sound categories nor FX in 2007, but that just makes it clear that the Academy simply did not like the movie (can't say I blame them) and will probably react similarly to the sequel. I doubt it can win. Don't be surprised to see Pixar's Up in contention, since Pixar has traditionally been shown a lot of support from the sound branch in the past, and for good reason. At least that particular branch of AMPAS can recognize exemplary sound work when they hear it. I'm also anticipating James Cameron's Avatar to get in. Cameron's sound team always produces excellent work, and it would be nice to see William B. Kaplan win that elusive first Oscar after seven nominations.

Other possibilities? Terminator Salvation, Amelia, Star Trek, Shutter Island? Who knows. No other film than the the ones I've already mentioned seems to have any particularly attractive features, but things will naturally change as the year wears on.

Predicted Five:
Avatar
Nine
Public Enemies
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Up

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