Oscars 2016 Category Breakdown: Best Sound Editing
Every year before the Oscars I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category, how it typically goes, voting-wise, historically and also as a precursor to my picks article, allowing me to get most of the heavy lifting out of the way beforehand.
What I do is 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 voted, 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. So you know what the general favorites are.
Today is Best Sound Editing. The category everyone pretends to understand but doesn’t.
|Year||Best Sound Editing Winners||Other Nominees|
|1963||It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World||A Gathering of Eagles|
|1964||Goldfinger||The Lively Set|
|1965||The Great Race||Von Ryan’s Express|
|1966||Grand Prix||Fantastic Voyage|
|1967||The Dirty Dozen||In the Heat of the Night|
|1968||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1969||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1970||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1971||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1972||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1973||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1974||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1975||The Hindenburg (Special Achievement Award)||No Category.|
|1976||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1977||Close Encounters of the Third Kind(Special Achievement Award)
Star Wars (Special Achievement Award)
|1978||No Award Given||No Category.|
|1979||The Black Stallion (Special Achievement Award)||No Category.|
|1980||No Award Given.||No Category.|
|1981||Raiders of the Lost Ark (Special Achievement Award)||No Category.|
|1982||E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial||Das Boot
|1983||The Right Stuff||Return of the Jedi|
|1984||The River (Special Achievement Award)||No Category.|
|1985||Back to the Future||Ladyhawke
Rambo: First Blood Part II
|1986||Aliens||Star Trek IB: The Voyage Home
|1987||RoboCop (Special Achievement Award)||No Category.|
|1988||Who Framed Roger Rabbit||Die Hard
|1989||Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade||Black Rain
Lethal Weapon 2
|1990||The Hunt for Red October||Flatliners
|1991||Terminator 2: Judgment Day||Backdraft
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
|1992||Bram Stoker’s Dracula||Aladdin
|1994||Speed||Clear and Present Danger
|1996||The Ghost and the Darkness||Daylight
The Fifth Element
|1998||Saving Private Ryan||Armageddon
The Mask of Zorro
|1999||The Matrix||Fight Club
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
|2001||Pearl Harbor||Monsters, Inc.|
|2002||The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||Minority Report
Road to Perdition
|2003||Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World||Finding Nemo
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
|2004||The Incredibles||The Polar Express
|2005||King Kong||War of the Worlds
Memoirs of a Geisha
|2006||Letters from Iwo Jima||Apocalypto
Flags of Our Fathers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
|2007||The Bourne Ultimatum||No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood
|2008||The Dark Knight||Iron Man
|2009||The Hurt Locker||Avatar
|2010||Inception||Toy Story 3
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Zero Dark Thirty
Life of Pi
|2013||Gravity||All Is Lost
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
|2015||Mad Max: Fury Road||The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Here are the previous winners of the MPSE Golden Reel Awards. The caveats still apply (the MPSE Awards were murky until the past decade or so and that the Oscar category only had three nominees before 2006. So we can really only look at the last couple of years for any kind of help at all):
- 1991: MPSE: SFX + Foley goes to Barton Fink. Their Dialogue + ADR goes to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Terminator 2: Judgment Day wins the Oscar for Sound Editing, beating Backdraft and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. So, MPSE has nothing to do with the Oscars, and the obvious choice wins.
- 1992 – Under Siege wins MPSE SFX + Foley and Alien 3 wins Dialgoue + ADR. Bram Stoker’s Dracula wins the Oscar over Under Siege and Aladdin. No comment on any of that.
- 1993 – MPSE: Jurassic Park wins SFX + Foley and Schindler’s List wins Dialogue + ADR. Jurassic Park wins the Oscar over Cliffhanger and the Fugitive. Pretty obvious choice.
- 1994 – MPSE: Speed wins SFX + Foley, Forrest Gump wins Dialogue and ADR. Oscar: Speed beats Gump andClear and Present Danger. This is somewhat telling. The action film beats the Oscar film with war scenes.
- 1995 – MPSE: Braveheart and Crimson Tide tie for SFX + Foley, and Crimson Tide wins for Dialogue + ADR.Braveheart takes the Oscar over Crimson Tide and Batman Forever. Oscar movie with many battle scenes wins over action/sub movie. Understandable.
- 1996 – We ignore this one since it’s totally random. You can go look it up, but trust me, it’s irrelevant.
- 1997 – Titanic wins the Oscar and both MPSE categories.
- 1998 – Saving Private Ryan wins the Oscar and both MPSE categories.
- 1999 – The Matrix wins the Oscar and wins MPSE SFX + Foley while American Beauty wins MPSE Dialogue + ADR. Pretty obvious The Matrix would win the Oscar.
- 2000 – MPSE gives SFX + Foley to Gladiator and Dialogue + ADR to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Oscar category consists only of two nominees: U-571 and Space Cowboys. U-571 obviously wins.
- 2001 – MPSE gives their SFX + Foley award to Black Hawk Down and A Beautiful Mind wins Dialogue + ADR. The Oscar category consists only of Pearl Harbor and Monsters, Inc. Clearly Pearl Harbor wins.
- 2002 – MPSE gives SFX + Foley to Road to Perdition (a spirited choice) and their Dialogue + ADR to Gangs of New York. Two Towers wins the Oscar, beating Road to Perdition and Minority Report. This is the onlyRings film to win this category. You know why? Big ass fucking battle scene.
- 2003 – MPSE gives SFX + Foley to Master and Commander and Dialogue + ADR to Pirates of the Caribbean. In the Oscar category, Master and Commander beats Pirates and Finding Nemo (which won MPSE for Animation).
- 2004 – MPSE SFX + Foley goes to The Aviator, and Dialogue + ADR goes to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The Incredibles wins the Oscar, beating The Polar Express and Spider-Man 2. Weird category.
- 2005 – MPSE SFX + Foley goes to War of the Worlds and Dialogue and ADR goes to Memoirs of a Geisha.King Kong wins the Oscar, beating War of the Worlds and Geisha. I guess they must have really liked the film. (Or that Andy Serkis thing was a big clincher.)
Okay, now we’ve reached 2006. Now there are five nominees at the Oscars.
- 2006 – Letters from Iwo Jima wins both MPSE awards and the Oscar.
- 2007 – The Bourne Ultimatum wins both MPSE awards and the Oscar.
- In 2008, MPSE introduces many of the awards we see now. They get much more specific.
- 2008: MPSE: Music in a Feature Film goes to The Dark Knight. SFX + Foley goes to Dark Knight. Dialogue + ADR goes to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR (essentially, Sound Mixing) goes to Slumdog Millionaire. The Dark Knight wins the Sound Editing Oscar (Slumdog wins Sound Mixing).
- 2009: MPSE: Avatar wins for Music in a Feature Film and SFX + Foley. Dialogue + ADR goes to Inglourious Basterds. (If you’ve noticed, the Dialogue + ADR award tends to go to well-written films.) Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR (Sound Mixing, basically, again) goes to District 9 (un-nominated for Sound at the Oscars). The Oscar goes to The Hurt Locker (which clearly points to people not wanting to vote for Avatar).
- 2010: MPSE: Music in a Feature Film and SFX + Foley go to Inception. Dialogue + ADR goes to The Social Network. (See what I mean about Dialogue + ADR?) Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR goes toToy Story 3 (which loses Sound Mixing to Inception). Inception wins the Oscar (both of them).
- 2011: SFX + Foley goes to War Horse, Hugo wins for Music, Super 8 took Dialogue + ADR, and Tintin took Animation. Hugo won the Oscar (both of them).
- 2012: SFX + Foley went to Skyfall, Life of Pi won Dialogue + ADR and Music (though Les Mis won for Music in a Musical), and Wreck-It Ralph won for Animation. The Oscar was a TIE between Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty.
- 2013: SFX + Foley went to Gravity, Captain Phillips won Dialogue + ADR, The Great Gatsby won Music (Frozen won Music in a Musical), and Epic won for Animation. Gravity won the Oscar.
- 2014: SFX + Foley went to American Sniper, Unbroken won Dialogue + ADR, Birdman won Music, and Big Hero 6 won for Animation. American Sniper won the Oscar.
- 2015: SFX + Foley was a tie between Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant. Bridge of Spies won Dialogue + ADR, Force Awakens won Music.
The major trends I see with MPSE is, when a film wins more than once with them, it’s mostly gonna win the Oscar (happened all but one time, which was Avatar, and I feel like that was a situation where they deliberately didn’t want to vote for it, and loved The Hurt Locker. Plus action films do better in Sound). So that’s one thing to keep in mind when they announce (which is literally the night before the Oscars. Way to make it easy on us, guys).
The other thing I always look at, which is how many times a film won both Editing and Mixing:
- 1981, Raiders of the Lost Ark (Not really, since the Editing award was a special achievement, but that just means they didn’t have a category that year. It would have won if there were other nominees.)
- 1982, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
- 1983, The Right Stuff
- 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- 1993, Jurassic Park
- 1994, Speed
- 1997, Titanic
- 1998, Saving Private Ryan
- 1999, The Matrix
- 2005, King Kong
- 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum
- 2009, The Hurt Locker
- 2010, Inception
- 2011, Hugo
- 2013, Gravity
- 215, Mad Max: Fury Road
Not that often. And typically, I’m seeing a guaranteed winner most of the time, or a big Best Picture contender. (Or both.)
Here are this year’s MPSE nominees, before we go:
The SFX + Foley nominees are: Arrival, Captain America: Civil War, Deadpool, Deepwater Horizon, Doctor Strange, Hacksaw Ridge, The Jungle Book, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
The Dialogue + ADR nominees are: Arrival, Deadpool, Hacksaw Ridge, Hell or High Water, Hidden Figures, Lion, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Sully
The Music nominees are: 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, Arrival, Doctor Strange, Don’t Breathe, Hacksaw Ridge, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Star Trek Beyond, Warcraft
Music in a Musica: Florence Foster Jenkins, La La Land, Moana, Sing Street, Trolls
Animated nominees are Finding Dory, Kubo and the Two Strings, The Little Prince, Moana, The Red Turtle, Sing, Zootopia
Winners are announced on Sunday, but I don’t need them to do this one.
Best Sound Editing
La La Land
This was fairly expected. The La La Land nomination surprised the shit out of me. That shouldn’t have happened and only shows you just how much they love that movie. For better or worse.
5. Deepwater Horizon — The Peter Berg token sound nomination. This has become a regular thing. Makes sense. Doubt this gets anywhere in the end. Look at the last ten winners of this category: Letters from Iwo Jima, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Dark Knight, The Hurt Locker, Inception, Hugo, Skyfall/Zero Dark Thirty, Gravity, American Sniper, Mad Max: Fury Road. Nine out of eleven Best Picture nominees. The other two: Bond and Bourne. The point is — major nominees or really highly regarded action films. And if we take out Skyfall, since it was a tie, it’s really just Bourne. Deepwater doesn’t come close to fitting that model, and with a lack of other nominations, it falls to the back of the pack really easily.
4. Sully — Sully would have stood a better chance if it were better received by the Academy at large. American Sniper winning helps this film’s chances, but that was a war film. This is not. This will get a few votes, but I don’t think it’ll take down the heavy hitters in this category. Fourth choice. Let it win. It’s not worth voting for.
3. Arrival — The film nominated in both categories that’s also a Best Picture nominee is always a contender. That said, there’s always a film that gets both of those nominations that wins neither of them every year. Last year — The Martian, The Revenant. Birdman got both. Captain Phillips got both. These things happen. Arrival is gonna be that film this year. I guess it could win either sound award, but do we really think that’s gonna happen. I think we rank it third in both categories, and in the end we don’t take it and let it win if it’s going to. I don’t see it.
2. La La Land — You always have to take into account the sweep vote. However, Oscar voters have been able to tell the difference between this category when they need to. 2014, Whiplash wins Mixing, American Sniper wins Editing. 2012, Les Mis wins Mixing, there’s the Zero Dark/Skyfall tie in Editing. Slumdog wins Mixing, Dark Knight wins Editing. They seem to know — the musical in Mixing, the action/war movie in Editing. Which leads me to believe that La La Land isn’t the favorite here but must be considered a contender simply because of the sweep vote factor. If it wins this, then they’re on autopilot and it’s just getting checked off in every category. They haven’t done that in a long time, so I feel like it won’t, but you have to take it into account, because you never know.
1. Hacksaw Ridge — War movies do well here. This movie has everything it needs to take down this category. Best Picture nomination, lots of overall nominations. It’s a big, classy, respected war film. American Sniper, Letters from Iwo Jima, Zero Dark Thirty — these films win this category. How can this not be considered the favorite from every perspective except the “well they don’t know the difference between Mixing and Editing and are just gonna vote for La La Land in every category” perspective? I’m feeling pretty good about this film’s chances at a win in this category.
– – – – – – – – – – –
Tomorrow, we go over Best Adapted Screenplay.