Oscars 2019 Category Breakdown: Best Sound Mixing

Here’s how this works: every day leading up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. The goal is to both familiarize everyone with the category itself (how it works, what its history is and how you go about figuring out what’s gonna win) while also making it easier to reference when I write my giant article with picks and everything. A lot of the leg work is already here. But really, the goal is to see if there’s anything to look for leading into Oscar night that could be a shortcut to me picking the category.

What we do is — I give you all the winners of the category throughout history, go over all the recent trends if there are any, discuss the precursors and whether or not they matter, and then we talk about this year’s category and how we got to it, and then just look at where we are and rank the nominees in terms of their likelihood of winning (at the current moment in time. Of course, things can and will change going into the ceremony). It’s all pretty simple. I’ve done this every year. Everyone should know the drill.

Today is Best Sound Mixing. Sibilance. Sibilance.

Year Best Sound Mixing Winners Other Nominees
1929-1930 The Big House
1930-1931 Paramount Publix Studio Sound Department MGM Studio Sound Department

RKO Radio Studio Sound Department

Samuel Goldwyn-United Artists Studio Sound Department

1931-1932 Paramount Publix Studio Sound Department MGM Studio Sound Department

RKO Studio Sound Department

Walt Disney

Warner Bros.First National Studio Sound Department

1932-1933 A Farewell to Arms 42nd Street

Gold Diggers of 1933

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

1934 One Night of Love The Affairs of Cellini


Flirtation Walk

The Gay Divorcee

Imitation of Life

Viva Villa!

The White Parade

1935 Naughty Marietta 1,000 Dollars a Minute

Bride of Frankenstein

Captain 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 Knee

The Charge of the Light Brigade


General Spanky

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

The Texas Rangers

That Girl from Paris

Three Smart Girls

1937 The Hurricane The Girl Said No

Hitting a New High

In Old Chicago

The Life of Emile Zola

Lost Horizon


One Hundred Men and a Girl


Wells Fargo

1938 The Cowboy and the Lady Army Girl

Four Daughters

If I Were King

Merrily We Live



That Certain Age

Vivacious Lady

You Can’t Take It With You

1939 When Tomorrow Comes Balalaika

Gone With the Wind

Goodbye, 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 News

Captain Caution

The 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 Love

Ball of Fire

The 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 Nights


Flying 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 Oklahoma

Madame 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 Brazil

Casanova Brown

Cover 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 Coast

Lady on a Train

Leave 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 Lives

It’s a Wonderful Life

1947 The Bishop’s Wife Green Dolphin Street


1948 The Snake Pit Johnny Belinda


1949 Twelve O’Clock High Once More, My Darling

Sands of Iwo Jima

1950 All About Eve Cinderella


Our Very Own


1951 The Great Caruso Bright Victory

I Want You

A Streetcar Named Desire

Two Tickets to Broadway

1952 The Sound Barrier Hans Christian Andersen

The Card

The Quiet Man

With a Song in My Heart

1953 From Here to Eternity Calamity Jane

Knights of the Round Table

The Mississippi Gambler

The War of the Worlds

1954 The Glenn Miller Story Brigadoon

The Caine Mutiny

Rear Window

Susan Slept Here

1955 Oklahoma! Love is a Many-Splendored Thing

Love Me or Leave Me

Mister Roberts

Not as a Stranger

1956 The King and I The Brave One

The Eddy Duchin Story

Friendly Persuasion

The Ten Commandments

1957 Sayonara Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Les Girls

Pal Joey

Witness for the Prosecution

1958 South Pacific I Want to Live!

A Time to Love and a Time to Die


The Young Lions

1959 Ben-Hur Journey to the Center of the Earth


The Nun’s Story

Porgy and Bess

1960 The Alamo The Apartment



Sunrise at Campobello

1961 West Side Story The Children’s Hour

Flower Drum Song

The Guns of Navarone

The Parent Trap

1962 Lawrence of Arabia Bon Voyage!

The Music Man

That Touch of Mink

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

1963 How the west Was Won Bye Bye Birdie

Captain Newman, M.D.


It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

1964 My Fair Lady Becket

Father Goose

Mary Poppins

The Unsinkable Molly Brown

1965 The Sound of Music The Agony and the Ecstasy

Doctor Zhivago

The Great Race


1966 Grand Prix Gambit


The Sand Pebbles

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 In the Heat of the Night Camelot

The Dirty Dozen

Doctor Dolittle

Thoroughly Modern Millie

1968 Oliver! Bullitt

Finian’s Rainbow

Funny Girl


1969 Hello, Dolly! Anne of the Thousand Days

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Gaily, Gaily


1970 Patton Airport

Ryan’s Daughter

Tora! Tora! Tora!


1971 Fiddler on the Roof Diamonds are Forever

The French Connection


Mary, Queen of Scots

1972 Cabaret Butterflies are Free

The Candidate

The Godfather

The Poseidon Adventure

1973 The Exorcist The Day of the Dolphin

The Paper Chase

Paper Moon

The Sting

1974 Earthquake Chinatown

The Conversation

The Towering Inferno

Young Frankenstein

1975 Jaws Bite the Bullet

Funny Lady

The Hindenburg

The Wind and the Lion

1976 All the President’s Men King Kong


Silver Streak

A Star is Born

1977 Star Wars Close Encounters of the Third Kind

The Deep


The Turning Point

1978 The Deer Hunter The Buddy Holly Story

Days of Heaven



1979 Apocalypse Now The Electric Horseman



The Rose

1980 The Empire Strikes Back Altered States

Coal Miner’s Daughter


Raging Bull

1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark On Golden Pond


Pennies from Heaven


1982 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Das Boot




1983 The Right Stuff Never Cr Wolf

Return of the Jedi

Terms of Endearment


1984 Amadeus 2010


A Passage to India

The River

1985 Out of Africa Back to the Future

A Chorus Line



1986 Platoon Aliens

Heartbreak Ridge

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Top Gun

1987 The Last Emperor Empire of the Sun

Lethal Weapon


The Witches of Eastwick

1988 Bird Die Hard

Gorillas in the Mist

Mississippi Burning

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

1989 Glory The Abyss

Black Rain

Born on the Fourth of July

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

1990 Dances with Wolves Days of Thunder

Dick Tracy

The Hunt for Red October

Total Recall

1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day Backdraft

Beauty and the Beast


The Silence of the Lambs

1992 The Last of the Mohicans Aladdin

A Few Good Men

Under Siege


1993 Jurassic Park Cliffhanger

The Fugitive

Geronimo: An American Legend

Schindler’s List

1994 Speed Clear and Present Danger

Forrest Gump

Legends of the Fall

The Shawshank Redemption

1995 Apollo 13 Batman Forever


Crimson Tide


1996 The English Patient Evita

Independence Day

The Rock


1997 Titanic Air Force One

Con Air


L.A. Confidential

1998 Saving Private Ryan Armageddon

The Mask of Zorro

Shakespeare in Love

The Thin Red Line

1999 The Matrix The Green Mile

The Insider

The Mummy

Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

2000 Gladiator Cast Away

The Patriot

The Perfect Storm


2001 Black Hawk Down Amélie

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Moulin Rouge!

Pearl Harbor

2002 Chicago Gangs of New York

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Road to Perdition


2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King The Last Samurai

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl


2004 Ray The Aviator

The Incredibles

The Polar Express

Spider-Man 2

2005 King Kong The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Memoirs of a Geisha

Walk the Line

War of the Worlds

2006 Dreamgirls Apocalypto

Blood Diamond

Flags of Our Fathers

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

2007 The Bourne Ultimatum 3:10 to Yuma

No Country for Old Men



2008 Slumdog Millionaire The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight



2009 The Hurt Locker Avatar

Inglourious Basterds

Star Trek

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

2010 Inception The King’s Speech


The Social Network

True Grit

2011 Hugo The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

2012 Les Misérables Argo

Life of Pi



2013 Gravity Captain Phillips

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

Inside Llewyn Davis

Lone Survivor

2014 Whiplash American Sniper




2015 Mad Max: Fury Road Bridge of Spies

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

2016 Hacksaw Ridge 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi


La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

2017 Dunkirk Baby Driver

Blade Runner 2049

The Shape of Water

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

2018 Bohemian Rhapsody Black Panther

First Man


A Star Is Born

I know I do this every year, but some people need it — Mixing is the entire sound mix you hear on the screen and Editing is the compilation of all those sounds (dialogue, effects, foley, music).

Typically you’ve gotta take both Sound categories as a single entity, since generally they both match, and trying to split them can lead to very bad situations, such as 2016, where I assumed, “Oh, Hacksaw Ridge the war movie… those always win Editing. And then La La Land, musical. Those win Mixing. That’s a good split.” And then Hacksaw won Mixing and Arrival won Editing and I got double fucked. Now, had I taken either of those in both, I’d have split and been fine. So it’s a very slippery and dicey slope and you just kind of have to throw everything on the table and reason your way through it until you come to a place that makes sense to you that you’re comfortable with.

We’ll start with CAS, the sound mixers guild. They’ve given out awards since 1993, and here’s their history:

  • 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)
  • 2014 — Birdman (lost the Oscar to Whiplash)
  • 2015 — The Revenant (lost the Oscar to Mad Max: Fury Road)
  • 2016 — La La Land (lost the Oscar to Hacksaw Ridge)
  • 2017 — Dunkirk (won the Oscar)
  • 2018 — Bohemian Rhapsody (won the Oscar)

They’re 15/26 (58%) all-time. Which is solid. 6/10 the past decade, which is their average.

BAFTA only has a single Sound category that includes everything. However, they are 9/10 the past decade. Their winner has won at least ONE of the Sound categories all but one year:

  • 2018 — Bohemian Rhapsody (won Mixing and Editing)
  • 2017 — Dunkirk (won Mixing and Editing)
  • 2016 — Arrival (won Editing)
  • 2015 — The Revenant (lost both categories to Fury Road)
  • 2014 — Whiplash (won Mixing)
  • 2013 — Gravity (won Mixing and Editing)
  • 2012 — Les Misérables (won Mixing)
  • 2011 — Hugo (won Mixing and Editing)
  • 2010 — Inception (won Mixing and Editing)
  • 2009 — The Hurt Locker (won Mixing and Editing)

Not a bad run for them. BFCA, meanwhile, tried a Sound category for three years then got rid of it.

So really, we’re looking at BAFTA, we’re looking at CAS and we’re looking at MPSE, which is the Sound Editors guild. You kinda have to take all the Sound information at once and then work through it all.

But anyway, here’s your category:

Best Sound Mixing


Ad Astra

Ford v Ferarri


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Ad Astra kind of came out of nowhere, but the other four were expected. You knew Ford v Ferrari and 1917 would get on. Meanwhile, Joker hit every Sound precursor there is, so you had to figure that was on. And Once Upon a Time is a film loaded with needle drops. Made total sense for that to be on too. So Ad Astra’s the only one that came out of nowhere. But hey, good for it.

Looking at the precursors, we only have CAS and MPSE, since BAFTA is gonna announce in a couple of days. But we have enough to loosely rank everything and then shore it up once BAFTA weighs in.

Here’s what the guilds did:

  • CAS: Ford v Ferrari
  • MPSE:
    • SFX+Foley: Ford v Ferrari
    • Dialogue+ADR: 1917

The other MPSE award went off the board, so it’s irrelevant to these proceedings. But really all that tells you is that it is and always was a two-horse race. So I do want to see where BAFTA goes with it, because that will be the deciding factor for me in at least one of these categories.


5. Ad Astra — This is its only nomination. And two things to note — the last non-Best Picture nominee to win in Mixing was The Bourne Ultimatum in 2007 and the last film to win Mixing as its only nomination was Last of the Mohicans in 1992. Similarly, in Editing, you have to go back to Ghost and the Darkness in 1996 for the last time something won a Sound category on its only nomination. But that’s when Editing was three nominees and not like it is now. Point is, you cannot see this as anything other than a fifth choice no matter how you slice it.

4. Joker — Hard to see this getting any real amount of votes in this category. Zero precursors thus far, and while I guess a BAFTA win isn’t totally out of the question, I’m not sure anyone is anticipating that happening. Which leaves us with… where are the votes coming from? It’s not a film that screams ‘sound design’. I can’t see this getting votes over the other three options left on this list. And absent a precursor, it’s gotta stay fourth.

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — The music. That’s why this is third. This is a soundtrack heavy film in a category known for ‘musical’ winners — Whiplash, Les Mis, Ray. It didn’t even win Music at MPSE, which is why I can’t think it’s remotely got a chance, but I will have it third on the off-off chance it does. Still, we know where this one’s headed. Those other two choices are pure sound films.

2. Ford v Ferrari — The only reason it’s second despite more precursors is two-fold: 1917 is likely to win Best Picture and has more overall nominations, therefore more overall support. And because I think 1917 is probably gonna win the BAFTA, which will make it the most lauded Sound film of the year in terms of precursors. Now, could there be a split, could this win BAFTA? Sure. But we’ve got a couple days and then a week to figure all that stuff out. For now, I’m calling this the second choice on an anticipatory technicality. It’s still a two-horse race and we’ve got a pretty good handle on how it’s gonna go. That’s the most you could ask for at this point in the race. Especially in a SOUND category.

1. 1917 — It wasn’t nominated at CAS, which could mean they didn’t like it enough to put it there. But it also means we don’t know how it would have done in a final vote there. Might have won if they put it on over Rocketman. We don’t know. MPSE split the two, which is a wash, and now BAFTA’s to come. Assuming this wins BAFTA, I think you have to make it the favorite in at least one of the categories. Editing for sure. And then at that point, do you want to switch them? I mean, maybe Ford v Ferrari can pull off the Bourne trifecta of Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. That’s entirely possible. But short of BAFTA announcing, I have to call this the favorite purely because of the 10 nominations, the fact that it’s the Best Picture favorite at this point and because it’s a war movie, and those do well in the Sound categories.

– – – – – – – – – –


One response

  1. Rock-solid analysis, good sir. Also, Ad Astra being here is totally a pity nom after it failed to even get shortlisted for the VFX Oscar. I wonder if the Sound branch saw that and realized at once that they had to be the ones to toss it something.

    January 31, 2020 at 5:32 pm

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