Oscars 2018 Category Breakdown: Best Sound Editing

So what we do here each year as a warm up for the Oscars is, I break down each of the 24 categories. The idea is to both familiarize everyone with the category and its history. I look at what the major trends are throughout the past bunch of years, how the precursors tend to go, whether they matter or not, that sort of stuff. I look at how the category came to be this year, and just anything else that seems totally pertinent about it. Then I rank each of the nominees and tell you what their likelihood (at this particular moment in time) of winning is.

This is all prelude to my giant Oscar ballot that I’m gonna give you. But I figure, if you have these as the warmup, it’s not as intimidating. You’ll have seen a lot of the pertinent trends here and we’ll all be able to reference these as a sort of cheat sheet. Plus it shows you where my head is at for how I think each of the categories are gonna go, and you can see me working my way up to all the bad decisions I usually make while guessing. Pretty much, with this, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the category is gonna turn out.

Today is Best Sound Editing. AKA Best “PEW PEW *Explosion Noise*.”

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)

No Category.
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

Top Gun

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

Total Recall

1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day Backdraft

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula Aladdin

Under Siege

1993 Jurassic Park Cliffhanger

The Fugitive

1994 Speed Clear and Present Danger

Forrest Gump

1995 Braveheart Batman Forever

Crimson Tide

1996 The Ghost and the Darkness Daylight


1997 Titanic Face/Off

The Fifth Element

1998 Saving Private Ryan Armageddon

The Mask of Zorro

1999 The Matrix Fight Club

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

2000 U-571 Space Cowboys
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

Spider-Man 2

2005 King Kong War of the Worlds

Memoirs of a Geisha

2006 Letters from Iwo Jima Apocalypto

Blood Diamond

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

Slumdog Millionaire



2009 The Hurt Locker Avatar

Inglourious Basterds

Star Trek


2010 Inception Toy Story 3

Tron: Legacy

True Grit


2011 Hugo Drive

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

2012 TIE:


Zero Dark Thirty


Django Unchained

Life of Pi

2013 Gravity All Is Lost

Captain Phillips

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Lone Survivor

2014 American Sniper Birdman

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies



2015 Mad Max: Fury Road The Martian

The Revenant


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

2016 Arrival Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land


2017 Dunkirk Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

So yesterday was Mixing. Big assumption, but assuming you read that, you know the difference between the two categories. If not, well then you’re pretty fucked. Have fun.

The guild for Sound Editing is MPSE. Of course, we have to look at everything together, but that’s the guild.

Here’s MPSE vs. the Oscars:

  • 1991: SFX+Foley goes to Barton Fink. Their Dialogue+ADR goes to Robin Hood: Prince of ThievesTerminator 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 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 – 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 – Speed wins SFX+Foley, Forrest Gump wins Dialogue+ADR. Speed beats Gump andClear and Present Danger for the Oscar. This is somewhat telling. The action film beats the Oscar film with war scenes.
  • 1995 – 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 MPSE SFX+Foley while American Beauty wins Dialogue+ADR. Pretty obvious The Matrix would win the Oscar, which it did.
  • 2000 – Gladiator wins SFX+Foley and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon wins Dialogue+ADR. The Oscar category consists only of two nominees: U-571 and Space CowboysU-571 obviously wins.
  • 2001 – Black Hawk Down wins SFX+Foley and A Beautiful Mind wins Dialogue+ADR. The Oscar category consists only of Pearl Harbor and Monsters, Inc. Clearly Pearl Harbor wins.
  • 2002 – Road to Perdition (a spirited choice) wins SFX+Foley and Gangs of New York wins Dialogue+ADR. Two Towers wins the Oscar, beating Road to Perdition and Minority Report. This is the only Rings film to win this category. You know why? Big ass fucking battle scene.
  • 2003 – Master and Commander wins SFX+Foley and Pirates of the Caribbean wins Dialogue+ADR. In the Oscar category, Master and Commander beats Pirates and Finding Nemo (which won MPSE for Animation).
  • 2004 – The Aviator wins SFX+Foley and Eternal Sunshine wins Dialogue+ADR. The Incredibles wins the Oscar, beating The Polar Express and Spider-Man 2. Weird category.
  • 2005 – War of the Worlds wins SFX+Foley and Memoirs of a Geisha wins Dialogue+ADR. King Kong wins the Oscar, beating War of the Worlds and Geisha. In hindsight, of course it did.

After 2005, Editing expanded to five nominees in the category.

  • 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: The Dark Knight wins SFX+Foley and Music, while Benjamin Button wins Dialogue+ADR. And there’s a category for SFX, Foley, Dialogue and ADR (so… Mixing) that went to Slumdog Millionaire. Which leads to the Dark Knight winning the Oscar for Editing and Slumdog winning for Sound Mixing.
  • 2009: Avatar wins SFX+Foley and Music. Inglourious Basterds wins Dialogue+ADR. The big Mixing category goes to District 9 (not nominated at the Oscars). The Hurt Lockers wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2010: Inception wins SFX+Foley and Music. The Social Network wins Dialogue+ADR. The big Mixing category went to Toy Story 3Inception wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2011: War Horse wins SFX+Foley, Super 8 wins Dialogue+ADR, Hugo wins Music. Hugo wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2012: Skyfall wins SFX+Foley, Life of Pi wins Dialogue+ADR and Music (though Les Mis also won for “Music in a Musical”). Skyfall TIES for the Oscar with Zero Dark Thirty.
  • 2013: Gravity wins SFX+Foley, Captain Phillips wins Dialogue+ADR. Gravity wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2014: American Sniper wins SFX+Foley, Unbroken wins Dialogue+ADR, Birdman wins Music. American Sniper wins the Oscar.
  • 2015: SFX+Foley is a tie between Mad Max: Fury Road and The RevenantBridge of Spies wins Dialogue+ADR. The Force Awakens wins Music. Fury Road wins both Sound Oscars.
  • 2016: Hacksaw Ridge wins SFX+Foley and Dialogue+ADR. La La Land wins Music. Somehow Arrival wins the Editing Oscar and Hacksaw Ridge wins Mixing (while also losing CAS to La La Land). Figure that shit out.
  • 2017: Blade Runner 2049 wins SFX+Foley, War for the Planet of the Apes wins Dialogue+ADR and Dunkirk wins Music. Dunkirk wins both Sound Oscars.

The major trends I see with MPSE is, when a film wins more than once at MPSE, it’s mostly gonna win the Oscar (happened all but twice — Avatar and Hacksaw).

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
  • 2015, Mad Max: Fury Road
  • 2017, Dunkirk

Not that often. Usually you need a big war movie or something… like, say, Dunkirk… for it to happen. Though you’d think that would happen with Hacksaw, but somehow the war movie won Mixing and lost Editing, which is just nuts to me. Plus La La Land, the musical, lost Mixing. And then Arrival won Editing, but not Mixing. Completely bizarre all around. Gonna have to chalk that up to a fluke.

But yeah, when looking at Editing, you have MPSE, CAS and BAFTA. And then general common sense of what the big “sound” film is for that year.

Best Sound Editing

Black Panther

Bohemian Rhapsody

First Man

A Quiet Place


This category had no real surprises in it. I called Roma, Quiet Place hit both sound guilds and was probably gonna get on one of the lists, First Man was a guarantee, and Black Panther was a guarantee. Bohemian Rhapsody is the one that made it on both that I wasn’t expecting. I thought it would be Rhapsody in Mixing and Roma in Editing, but in the end both got on both. No overt surprises in this one. You had to figure maybe The Favourite or something would sneak on here as a snow of Best Picture support, but ultimately it went this way. Nothing overly surprising.

As far as precursors so far, MPSE announced yesterday, so we’ve got a full freight of help.


  • SFX+Foley: A Quiet Place
  • Dialogue+ADR: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Musical: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Foreign Language: Roma

BAFTA: Bohemian Rhapsody

CAS: Bohemian Rhapsody

That’s… damn though, right?


5. Roma — It won Foreign Language at MPSE, but this is the first time I’ve even had to talk about that award. I legitimately didn’t know it existed before yesterday. I don’t see this having the support to win. It’s a “nominee but no win” kind of entry. I can make a case over everything on top of this.

4. Black Panther — It’s got no precursors and it seems weird that people will randomly vote for it in one of the Sound categories and not the other. I feel like either they gotta take it in both or don’t vote for it at all. And it certainly looks like it’s a “don’t vote for it at all” situation. Maybe it can win, but without precursors or anything, I can’t even begin to figure how that one comes about. So let’s just assume it’s not and keep it fourth.

3. A Quiet Place — It won the big MPSE award, so that’s something. This winning would make some sense, but… and this is kind of a big but… going back in Sound Editing, there’s usually a movie nominated that has it as its only nomination. Sully, Sicario, The Hobbit, All Is Lost, Drive, Unstoppable, Tron… it’s never won. In an open vote, it’s a tall order to see something winning with just one nomination. So the MPSE win helps it, and maybe it’ll get votes, but I can’t see this taking it down unless there’s a complete vote split across the board and this sneaks through, Ex Machina style.

2. First Man — This was a lock for both Sound categories in the early stages of the race. Now it’s looking like it might go home completely empty handed. We’ll see if that actually ends up coming to pass. But it’s interesting how this missed every single precursor. And as such, I can’t call it the most likely winner. Even though this is what Sound Editing is all about. But looking back… the last non-Best Picture nominee to win Sound Editing was Skyfall, but that tied with Zero Dark Thirty. So technically a Best Picture nominee did win there and we just got a bonus winner. Before that…Bourne Ultimatum. Only once in the history of five nominee categories. That’s interesting. And that definitely does not work in this film’s favor. Interesting, interesting, interesting.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody — It won two MPSE awards, it won CAS, it won BAFTA for Sound. Now, all of that pretty much guarantees it’ll win Mixing, but I’m not 100% sold it wins both Sound categories. But at this point, how can you say it’s not the favorite to do just that? I can’t call anything else the #1 choice in this category with those precursors. That’s too much to ignore.

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