Oscars 2014 Category Breakdown: Best Sound Mixing

This is a tradition for me. Every year, before the Oscars, I break down every single one of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with each category, how it works, what its history is, how it usually turns out, and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.

How these work is — I go over each category’s history, give you all the previous winners and nominees, then list the current year’s nominees. And then I’ll go over how each of the guilds (if there is a corresponding guild) have went, and how that corresponds to the Oscars (some guilds mean a lot to how a category will play out. Others mean nothing). It’s basically everything you need to know in order to make an informed decision when you make your picks on Oscar night. And then I also rank the nominees at the end in terms of where I see them in terms of their likelihood to win.

Today is Best Sound Mixing. You know, that one that’s not Sound Editing. Because you can totally tell the difference between the two and it’s not just some arbitrary distinction.

Year Best Sound Mixing Winners Other Nominees
1929-1930 The Big House
1930-1931 Paramount Publix Studio Sound Department MGM Studio Sound DepartmentRKO Radio Studio Sound DepartmentSamuel Goldwyn-United Artists Studio Sound Department
1931-1932 Paramount Publix Studio Sound Department MGM Studio Sound DepartmentRKO Studio Sound DepartmentWalt Disney

Warner Bros.First National Studio Sound Department

1932-1933 A Farewell to Arms 42nd StreetGold Diggers of 1933I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang
1934 One Night of Love The Affairs of CelliniCleopatraFlirtation Walk

The Gay Divorcee

Imitation of Life

Viva Villa!

The White Parade

1935 Naughty Marietta 1,000 Dollars a MinuteBride of FrankensteinCaptain Blood

The Dark Angel

I Dream Too Much

The Lives of a Bengal Lancer

Love Me Forever

Thanks a Million

1936 San Francisco Banjo on My KneeThe Charge of the Light BrigadeDodsworth

General Spanky

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

The Texas Rangers

That Girl from Paris

Three Smart Girls

1937 The Hurricane The Girl Said NoHitting a New HighIn Old Chicago

The Life of Emile Zola

Lost Horizon


One Hundred Men and a Girl


Wells Fargo

1938 The Cowboy and the Lady Army GirlFour DaughtersIf I Were King

Merrily We Live



That Certain Age

Vivacious Lady

You Can’t Take It With You

1939 When Tomorrow Comes BalalaikaGone With the WindGoodbye, Mr. Chips

The Great Victor Herbert

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Man of Conquest

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Of Mice and Men

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

The Rains Came

1940 Strike Up the Band Behind the NewsCaptain CautionThe Grapes of Wrath

The Howards of Virginia

Kitty Foyle

North West Mounted Police

Our Town

The Sea Hawk

Spring Parade

Too Many Husbands

1941 That Hamilton Woman Appointment for LoveBall of FireThe Chocolate Soldier

Citizen Kane

The Devil Pays Off

How Gree Was My Valley

The Men in Her Life

Sergeant York


Topper Returns

1942 Yankee Doodle Dandy Arabian NightsBambiFlying Tigers

Friendly Enemies

The Gold Rush

Mrs. Miniver

Once Upon a Honeymoon

The Pride of the Yankees

Road to Morocco

This Above All

You Were Never Lovelier

1943 This Land is Mine Hangmen Also Die!In Old OklahomaMadame Curie

The North Star

Phantom of the Opera

Riding High


Saludos Amigos

So This Is Washington

The Song of Bernadette

This Is the Army

1944 Wilson BrazilCasanova BrownCover Girl

Doublt Indemnity

His Butler’s Sister

Hollywood Canteen

It Happened Tomorrow


Music in Manhattan

Voice in the Wind

1945 The Bells of St. Mary’s Flame of Barbary CoastLady on a TrainLeave Her to Heaven

Rhapsody in Blue

A Song to Remember

The Southerner

They Were Expendable

The Three Caballeros

Three Is a Family

The Unseen

Wonder Man

1946 The Jolson Story The Best Years of Our LivesIt’s a Wonderful Life
1947 The Bishop’s Wife Green Dolphin StreetT-Men
1948 The Snake Pit Johnny BelindaMoonrise
1949 Twelve O’Clock High Once More, My DarlingSands of Iwo Jima
1950 All About Eve CinderellaLouisaOur Very Own


1951 The Great Caruso Bright VictoryI Want YouA Streetcar Named Desire

Two Tickets to Broadway

1952 The Sound Barrier Hans Christian AndersenThe CardThe Quiet Man

With a Song in My Heart

1953 From Here to Eternity Calamity JaneKnights of the Round TableThe Mississippi Gambler

The War of the Worlds

1954 The Glenn Miller Story BrigadoonThe Caine MutinyRear Window

Susan Slept Here

1955 Oklahoma! Love is a Many-Splendored ThingLove Me or Leave MeMister Roberts

Not as a Stranger

1956 The King and I The Brave OneThe Eddy Duchin StoryFriendly Persuasion

The Ten Commandments

1957 Sayonara Gunfight at the O.K. CorralLes GirlsPal Joey

Witness for the Prosecution

1958 South Pacific I Want to Live!A Time to Love and a Time to DieVertigo

The Young Lions

1959 Ben-Hur Journey to the Center of the EarthLibelThe Nun’s Story

Porgy and Bess

1960 The Alamo The ApartmentCimarronPepe

Sunrise at Campobello

1961 West Side Story The Children’s HourFlower Drum SongThe Guns of Navarone

The Parent Trap

1962 Lawrence of Arabia Bon Voyage!The Music ManThat Touch of Mink

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

1963 How the west Was Won Bye Bye BirdieCaptain Newman, M.D.Cleopatra

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

1964 My Fair Lady BecketFather GooseMary Poppins

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

1965 The Sound of Music The Agony and the EcstasyDoctor ZhivagoThe Great Race


1966 Grand Prix GambitHawaiiThe Sand Pebbles

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 In the Heat of the Night CamelotThe Dirty DozenDoctor Dolittle

Thoroughly Modern Millie

1968 Oliver! BullittFinian’s RainbowFunny Girl


1969 Hello, Dolly! Anne of the Thousand DaysButch Cassidy and the Sundance KidGaily, Gaily


1970 Patton AirportRyan’s DaughterTora! Tora! Tora!


1971 Fiddler on the Roof Diamonds are ForeverThe French ConnectionKotch

Mary, Queen of Scots

1972 Cabaret Butterflies are FreeThe CandidateThe Godfather

The Poseidon Adventure

1973 The Exorcist The Day of the DolphinThe Paper ChasePaper Moon

The Sting

1974 Earthquake ChinatownThe ConversationThe Towering Inferno

Young Frankenstein

1975 Jaws Bite the BulletFunny LadyThe Hindenburg

The Wind and the Lion

1976 All the President’s Men King KongRockySilver Streak

A Star is Born

1977 Star Wars Close Encounters of the Third KindThe DeepSorcerer

The Turning Point

1978 The Deer Hunter The Buddy Holly StoryDays of HeavenHooper


1979 Apocalypse Now The Electric HorsemanMeteor1941

The Rose

1980 The Empire Strikes Back Altered StatesCoal Miner’s DaughterFame

Raging Bull

1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark On Golden PondOutlandPennies from Heaven


1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Das BootGandhiTootsie


1983 The Right Stuff Never Cr WolfReturn of the JediTerms of Endearment


1984 Amadeus 2010DuneA Passage to India

The River

1985 Out of Africa Back to the FutureA Chorus LineLadyhawke


1986 Platoon AliensHeartbreak RidgeStar Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Top Gun

1987 The Last Emperor Empire of the SunLethal WeaponRoboCop

The Witches of Eastwick

1988 Bird Die HardGorillas in the MistMississippi Burning

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

1989 Glory The AbyssBlack RainBorn on the Fourth of July

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1990 Dances with Wolves Days of ThunderDick TracyThe Hunt for Red October

Total Recall

1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day BackdraftBeauty and the BeastJFK

The Silence of the Lambs

1992 The Last of the Mohicans AladdinA Few Good MenUnder Siege


1993 Jurassic Park CliffhangerThe FugitiveGeronimo: An American Legend

Schindler’s List

1994 Speed Clear and Present DangerForrest GumpLegends of the Fall

The Shawshank Redemption

1995 Apollo 13 Batman ForeverBraveheartCrimson Tide


1996 The English Patient EvitaIndependence DayThe Rock


1997 Titanic Air Force OneCon AirContact

L.A. Confidential

1998 Saving Private Ryan ArmageddonThe Mask of ZorroShakespeare in Love

The Thin Red Line

1999 The Matrix The Green MileThe InsiderThe Mummy

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

2000 Gladiator Cast AwayThe PatriotThe Perfect Storm


2001 Black Hawk Down AmélieThe Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the RingMoulin Rouge!

Pearl Harbor

2002 Chicago Gangs of New YorkThe Lord of the Rings: The Two TowersRoad to Perdition


2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Last SamuraiMaster and Commander: The Far Side of the WorldPirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl


2004 Ray The AviatorThe IncrediblesThe Polar Express

Spider-Man 2

2005 King Kong The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeMemoirs of a GeishaWalk the Line

War of the Worlds

2006 Dreamgirls ApocalyptoBlood DiamondFlags of Our Fathers

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

2007 The Bourne Ultimatum 3:10 to YumaNo Country for Old MenRatatouille


2008 Slumdog Millionaire The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonThe Dark KnightWall-E


2009 The Hurt Locker AvatarInglourious BasterdsStar Trek

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

2010 Inception The King’s SpeechSaltThe Social Network

True Grit

2011 Hugo The Girl with the Dragon TattooMoneyballTransformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

2012 Les Misérables ArgoLife of PiLincoln


2013 Gravity Captain PhillipsThe Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugInside Llewyn Davis

Lone Survivor

And, as we do, since now is where the guilds become important, let’s go over how important the Cinema Audio Society is in gauging what’s going to win the Oscar:

The CAS Awards have been given out since 1993. Previous winners are:

1993 – Jurassic Park (won the Oscar)

1994 – Forrest Gump (lost the Oscar to Speed)

1995 —  Apollo 13 (won the Oscar)

1996 – The English Patient (won the Oscar)

1997 – Titanic (won the Oscar)

1998 – Saving Private Ryan (won the Oscar)

1999 – The Matrix (won the Oscar)

2000 – Gladiator (won the Oscar)

2001 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (lost the Oscar to Black Hawk Down)

2002 – Road to Perdition (lost the Oscar to Chicago)

2003 — Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (lost the Oscar to Return of the King)

2004 – The Aviator (lost the Oscar to Ray)

2005 – Walk the Line (lost the Oscar to King Kong)

2006 – Dreamgirls (won the Oscar)

2007 – No Country for Old Men (lost the Oscar to The Bourne Ultimatum)

2008 – Slumdog Millionaire (won the Oscar)

2009 – The Hurt Locker (won the Oscar)

2010 – True Grit (lost the Oscar to Inception)

2011 – Hugo (won the Oscar)

2012 – Les Misérables (won the Oscar)

2013 — Gravity (won the Oscar)

Big Best Picture candidates usually win. But usually the ones that end up sweeping a lot of the awards. Or are gonna win at least five. Though most of them have some element that makes them easy decisions. Like action or war scenes, or a lot of music, like Slumdog.

Typically you can understand when CAS differs from the Oscar. Like True Grit losing to Inception. You get it. And you know they love a musical, too. So that’s always something to consider. (Though this year they went for an alternative musical instead of the musical.)

This year, CAS and the Oscar category matched up 4/5. The only difference is, CAS had Guardians of the Galaxy on their list and the Oscars have Whiplash.

CAS isn’t announcing their awards for another ten days, so we’ll just have to guess how it’s gonna turn out and adjust the rankings accordingly once that happens.

And again, this category also works in tandem with Best Sound Editing, so there’s a lot to look at here, and you’re never gonna have all the information until it’s time to make final predictions. So we’re just gonna wade our way through the category as best we can.

Oh, and the other interesting thing to note — four of the five nominees match in both this category and Sound Editing. The only difference is Whiplash, which is more of a musical, so it got the Mixing nomination, and The Hobbit snuck on for Editing. Otherwise… same four.

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper






5. Unbroken — This movie did not go over well, and a movie like this almost never wins this category. You have to go back over 20 years to a movie that was not received particularly well and was essentially shut out at the Oscars and still managed to win a Sound category. Shit… more than that. This has no chance. It’s just there to fill out the nominees. Leave it at #5 and move on. There are bigger fish here.

4. American Sniper — It has a chance in Editing, but it shouldn’t win Mixing. It’s not a Mixing kind of movie. If this wins Editing, then I feel like a split can happen. But that’s if it wins Editing. Since there’s some backlash against the film going on. I don’t know if that means people will avoid voting for it. Put it this way… it might win one Sound award, but I don’t know if it’ll be both. And I’d be pretty surprised if it won this in either case. So I’ll give it a little bit of a chance, and consider it, but unless it wins CAS, I can’t see this winning this category. (Though I will say, the box office and exposure can only help it to at least be considered.)

3. Birdman — It’s a big Best Picture film. It might be your Best Picture. I feel like voters are savvy enough to vote for things in the categories that make sense. Like when The Artist ended up winning Picture, Director, Actor, and then Score and Costumes. And then Hugo took the Sound categories, and Effects, and Cinematography, and things of that nature. Which… that’s my other comparison there… as Hugo did end up winning both Sound categories, there’s a chance this could get either or both of them simply by being a movie people really liked. I know the comparison isn’t entirely accurate, since Hugo had the train crash and things like that. And this movie isn’t necessarily all about sound. There’s like, one scene with the CGI. So it doesn’t completely make sense as a winner in either category (though Mixing would make more sense than Editing, at least to me), but I could understand it winning one of the two. Especially since it is as big a contender as you’re gonna get.

2. Whiplash — Oscar loves a musical. Especially in this category. This one is all about instruments and stuff. This could sneak right in there and win. If this won for Mixing and American Sniper won Editing, people could buy that. So this is definitely a contender on that alone. Musicals do very well in this category. And the movie is a masterclass of editing and sound design. Plus, you’re looking at a movie that was beloved that is clearly not winning Best Picture or Best Director. It might not even win Screenplay. So if that’s the case, maybe they try to give it another Oscar aside from J.K. Simmons. This could be that category. (Editing would be really impressive, if they managed that.) You have to consider this a major contender for the category until the very end. Of course, its chances could be hurt or helped by a CAS loss or win in ten days. So until then, major contender, and we’ll reassess after CAS.

1. Interstellar — Now… all of the talking about the other nominees, and all that other stuff… this was the clear cut favorite all along. It’s a big, epic action movie, done by Christopher Nolan. He was nominated for Dark Knight (that won for Editing), and won both Sound categories for Inception. This is exactly the kind of movie they love, and I think even if people didn’t love the movie, they understand and respect the sound quality. (I don’t know if that theater sound quality thing that bumped up opening weekend matters to people or not. I’m gonna say not.) This has everything you want in Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. This has to be considered your favorite as of right now. We’ll see if CAS goes with it or with something else. (If they go Guardians, they’re just gonna fuck with everyone’s head so hard.)

– – – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, we go over Best Sound Editing. The other sound category most people know nothing about.


One response

  1. BlueFox94

    “Tomorrow, we go over Best Animated Feature. The beauty of that category is that I won’t mention a certain movie once in that entire article.”

    You went over Animated Feature yesterday.

    February 3, 2015 at 1:40 pm

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