Tag Archives: Sound Editing

Oscar Predictions – Sound and Music

gravity soundtrack

Gravity Soundtrack – Screenshot from YouTube: http://youtu.be/q18NRboQSzk

Welcome to The Screen Life’s Oscar Predictions! This is part 3 in a 6-part series, in which you will find a quick breakdown of each category, accompanied by ranked predictions. Also be sure to check out the complete OSCAR PREDICTIONS page (in the menu up top), which will be continually updated throughout the week. This is your grand guide to this Sunday’s big night!

Best Music (Original Score)

This is often a tough category to call. That’s definitely the case this year, though the presumed frontrunner is upending the usual landscape. Steven Price’s Gravity score is so inextricably tied into its soundscape that suddenly it feels more like another extension of the two sound categories. And in that sense, it’s the most deserving work and should be the clear runaway favorite to win. But I’m not sure that all the voters will think of it that way. The score on it’s own isn’t exactly memorable or hummable in the traditional way, and some might look at it’s nomination as a curiosity, giving way to just about any of the other four. John Williams is the least likely. Nobody really cares for that movie, and it’s not exactly on par with the scores that made him famous. The same, to a lesser degree, goes for Thomas Newman. That leaves two more Best Picture nominees. Alexandre Desplat is another beloved giant in the field and a considerable threat. But I expect Arcade Fire to have a slight edge. The Academy has an odd occasional fondness for hip, young popular music groups, as evidenced be recent wins for Nine Inch Nails, Three 6 Mafia, and Eminem. Also, this category rarely sees first time nominees, but when it does they usually win. Then again, Price is a a first-timer too, and I’m pretty sure he’ll be the winner.

1. Steven Price – Gravity
2. Arcade Fire – Her
3. Alexandre Desplat – Philomena
4. Thomas Newman – Saving Mr. Banks
5. John Williams – The Book Thief

Best Music (Original Song)

Oh this poor category. The nominations phase often seems rife with controversy; remember the year with only 2 nominees, and one was terrible? This year the most embarrassing nominee was disqualified due to shady campaigning. Unbelievably, that left us with one of the strongest Song categories we’ve ever seen! There’s not a dud in the bunch. Funny how that happened. What’s more, now we have a real race on our hands. What had once seemed an absolute lock for Frozen‘s epic anthem,  is suddenly a complete toss-up. “The Moon Song” may be least likely, but the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman has her fans. And the song is crucial to the plot of the film, which always helps. U2 picked up the Golden Globe recently, while Pharrell Willams just nabbed a few Grammys for having a banner year all-around. The campaigns for both have been especially huge in the past month, as voters and the public in general have been inundated with their songs. Still, musical always have an advantage, and Frozen marks a stunning return-to-form for Disney. “Let It Go” harkens back to their iconic wins of the 90’s. It’s competitors may be coming on strong but, it hasn’t missed a beat. Their are already dozens of different versions and parodies on YouTube. No song nominee has gone quite this viral in a long time. I’d say it’s still the one to beat.

1. “Let it Go” by Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, from Frozen
2. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, from Despicable Me 2
3. “Ordinary Love” by U2, from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
4. “The Moon Song”, by Karen O, from Her

Best Sound Mixing

A lot has been written about the difference between sound mixing and editing. While the difference is clear and makes sense when you learn it, the end results at the Oscars are usually the same. Four nominees show up in both categories (all action/sci-fi/genre films). Movies with a big focus on music sometimes have an advantage in Mixing (just as animated movies do in Editing), which is how Inside Llewyn Davis nabbed that last spot. But its chances of winning are slim, as are that of the largely ignored Hobbit. Lone Survivor has a lot of respect – and not just in the tech fields – and with less competition could been a major contender. Captain Phillips, on the other hand, has been making a bit of a surge lately, and its teams came away with surprise wins in both categories recently for the third Bourne movie. Still, Gravity is the big player cleaning up the majority of the tech fields. It doesn’t hurt that it’s actually the most deserving, incorporating sound and music into an astoundingly original sonic identity.

1. Gravity
2. Captain Phillips
3. Lone Survivor
4. Inside Llewyn Davis
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Best Sound Editing

As I mentioned, four films share both sound categories. It just so happens I’m rank those the same, and for largely similar reasons. The one unique contender is All Is Lost, which may actually be one of the most deserving. Because of the way the movie was made – without dialogue, and always surrounded by water – every sound in the film had to be created from scratch in post-production. (This is the same reason animated films often do well in Editing, though not this year, apparently.) Sadly, as its only nomination, this is as far as it’s going to go. Interestingly enough, due to the level of skill and difficulty, I would be inclined to give Lone Survivor a slight edge over Captain Phillips here, except that the latter actually won an MPSE Award. Still, all that’s academic because Gravity will take this handily, making an unusual 3-for-3 for its sound-related work.

1. Gravity
2. Captain Phillips
3. Lone Survivor
4. All is Lost
5. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


Check out the other parts of the Oscar Predictions Series here:
Part 1 –  Animated, Foreign, Doc, and Short Films
Part 2 – Technical Categories (Cinematography, Costumes, Makeup, Production Design, and Visual Effects)
Part 3 – Sound and Music
Part 4 – Storytelling (Editing and Screenplays)
Part 5 – Acting
Part 6 – Picture and Director

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GrabBag – Beetlejuice 2, ‘R’ Movies for Kids, and the Problem With ‘Let It Go’


It’s Friday! Boy, are you ever ready for this weekend. Starved for non-work-related internet surfing. The only thing you need is a bunch of links to check out. Well bully for you, because today’s GrabBag is a SUPER-SIZED barrel of web content, with 10 different links and videos. Time to pull up a seat, get your finger on that mouse, and GORGE!!!

  • It looks like Tim Burton and Michael Keaton are seriously considering doing Beetlejuice 2.
  • Christina Bianco does impressions of several famous divas singing “Let It Go”. These are hilarious, but she’s pretty terrific herself.
  • Speaking of “Let It Go”, Slate’s Dana Stevens has a problem with a small part of the sequence that she says contradicts Frozen‘s otherwise pro-feminist messages. I totally get her point, but honestly, if that’s your only problem with a movie that’s otherwise so much better an influence for young girls (and boys!) than 99.999% of the rest of pop culture? Let it go, Dana. (heh. heh. heh.)
  • Take a look at Rush‘s CGI effects side-by-side with real footage of Niki Lauda’s crash.
  • Dallas Buyers Club‘s Oscar-nominated (and likely winning) make-up work was all done on a budget of only $250. Wow. Just… wow.
  • Still confused by that “preferential ballot” the Oscars use for their Best Picture category? Still care? (Did you ever?) Here’s another really good explaination, courtesy of The Wrap’s Steve Pond…
  • Has The LEGO Movie (review coming soon) left you wanting more? Here are some great LEGO-ized posters for this year’s Best Picture nominees.
  • The always hilarious Onion reviews the new RoboCop movie…

Okay, okay, OKAY!!! That’s enough surfing for now, big clicker. Breathe. Save some room for next week. There’ll always be more…

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Gravity, Captain Phillips, Frozen Win MPSE Golden Reel Awards


The Motion Picture Sound Editors’ (MPSE) Golden Reel Awards were announce yesterday. Gravity continues its well-earned dominance in the tech guilds. Not much else to say, though this may be the only guild I’ve seen to have categories for direct-to-video. See the complete nominations here.

Sound Effects and Foley in an English Language Feature

Dialogue and ADR in an English Language Feature
“Captain Phillips”

Animated Feature (English or Foreign Language)
(Includes ADR, Dialogue, Sound Effects and Foley)

Foreign Language Feature
(Includes ADR, Dialogue, Sound Effects and Foley)
“The Grandmaster”

Music in a Musical Feature (English or Foreign Language)

Music in a Feature (English or Foreign Language)
“The Great Gatsby”

Feature Documentary
“Dirty Wars”


Short Form: Dialogue & ADR
“Game of Thrones: The Rains of Castamere”

Short Form: Sound Effects & Foley
“Breaking Bad” – “Felina”

Long Form: Dialogue & ADR
“The Bridge” – Pilot

Long Form: Sound Effects & Foley
“Sons of Anarchy” – “Salvage”

Short Form: Music
“Game of Thrones” – “The Rains of Castamere”

Short Form: Music, Musical
“Peg + Cat: The Beethoven Problem”

Long Form Form: Music, Musical
“History of the Eagles: Part One”

Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR Animation in Television
“The Fairly OddParents” – “Dumbbell Curve”

Short Form Documentary in Television
“North America: No Place to Hide”

Long Form Documentary in Television
“Deadliest Catch: The Final Battle”


Computer Episodic Entertainment
“Mortal Kombat: Legacy Series II”

Computer Interactive Entertainment
“StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Cinematic”

Direct to Video Animation
“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Pt. 2”

Direct to Video Live Action
“Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter”

Special Venue
“To the Arctic 3D”

Verna Fields Award in Sound Editing for Student Filmmakers

Career Achievement Award
Randy Thom

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MPSE Golden Reel Awards Nominees


The Motion Picture Picture Sounds Editors (MPSE) Golden Reel Awards are one of my “secret” favorites. I have this fantasy that one day I’d love to learn to be a sound editor for film and video. I have pretty much zero experience in the matter and no way to fund an education, so it’s a complete pipe dream. Still, a man can dream, can’t he? A man can dream…

For a reminder on the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, check out my explanation on Cinema Audio Society (the sound mixers guild) nominations post.

The MPSE gave Gravity and 12 Years a Slave the lead with 3 nominations apiece. But the biggest news out of this list is the shocking ZERO nods for Rush. That’s unfortunate, and unexpected. I had been predicting it to get an Oscar nod (see my Oscar Predictions post). But after coming up short with both the sound editors AND mixers guilds, now I’m not so sure.

Here are the Golden Reel Awards Nominees…

Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects and Foley in an English Language Feature
“All Is Lost”
“Captain Phillips”
“Fast & Furious 6”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Iron Man 3”
“Lone Survivor”
“12 Years a Slave”

Best Sound Editing: Dialogue and ADR in an English Language Feature
“American Hustle”
“August: Osage County”
“Captain Phillips”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Lone Survivor”
“12 Years a Slave”

Best Sound Editing in an Animated Feature (English or Foreign Language)
(Includes ADR, Dialogue, Sound Effects and Foley)
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest & Celestine”
“Monsters University”

Best Sound Editing in a Foreign Language Feature
(Includes ADR, Dialogue, Sound Effects and Foley)
“Blue Is the Warmest Color”
“The Grandmaster”
“The Past”

Best Sound Editing: Music in a Musical Feature (English or Foreign Language)
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Justin Bieber’s Believe”
“Metallica Through the Never”

Best Sound Editing: Music in a Feature (English or Foreign Language)
“American Hustle”
“47 Ronin”
“The Great Gatsby”
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom”
“12 Years a Slave”
“World War Z”

Best Sound Editing in a Feature Documentary Feature
“Dirty Wars”
“Good Ol’ Freda”
“Muscle Shoals”
“Rising from Ashes”
“Sound City”
“20 Feet from Stardom”

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Cinema Audio Society Nominees


At the Oscars there are 2 different sound categories: Sound Mixing (sometimes just “Sound”) and Sound Editing. Don’t know the difference? Here’s a quick primer…

Sound Editing is creating  sounds and sound effects. It might be the slamming of a car door that couldn’t be recorded during filming. Or it could be inventing a completely new sound, like Chewbacca’s growl or the Tardis’ whirr. The latter is also known as Foley. (It is something of a pipe-dream of mine to someday learn to be a Foley artist.)

Sound Mixing is the final mix of all sounds, dialogue, and score, whether recorded during filming or in post-production.

The Cinema Audio Society (CAS) is the sound mixers’ guild. Their awards nominations give us an idea of the direction the Oscars’ Sound Mixing category might take, but there are usually a couple differences. This year likely Oscar contenders All Is Lost and Rush were left off their list, though I’m at a loss for what either of those might replace.

Here’s the full list of CAS Award nominees…

Motion Picture – Live Action
“Captain Phillips”
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
“Iron Man 3”
“Lone Survivor”

Motion Picture – Animated
“The Croods”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Monsters University”
“Walking With Dinosaurs”

Television Movie or Mini-Series
“American Horror Story: Coven” — “The Replacements”
“Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome”
“Behind the Candelabra”
“Bonnie and Clyde: (Night Two) Part Two”
“Phil Spector”

Television Series – 1 Hour
“Boardwalk Empire” — “Erlkönig”
“Breaking Bad” — “Felina”
“Game of Thrones” — “The Rains of Castamere”
“Homeland” — “Good Night”
“The Walking Dead” — “Home”

Television Series – 1/2 Hour
“Californication” — “I’ll Lay My Monsters Down”
“Modern Family” — “Goodnight Gracie”
“Nurse Jackie” — “Teachable Moments”
“The Office” — “Finale”
“Parks and Recreation” — “Leslie and Ben”

Television Non-Fiction, Variety or Music Series or Specials
“2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony”
“Deadliest Catch” — “The Final Battle”
“History of the Eagles — Part One”
“Killing Lincoln”
“Mike Tyson:  Undisputed Truth”

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