Oscars 2019 Category Breakdown: Best Sound Editing

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 Editing, which is the one that’s not Sound Mixing. You know the difference, of course.

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

2018 Bohemian Rhapsody Black Panther

First Man

A Quiet Place


We did Mixing yesterday, and just judging by how often these categories match up and how slight a category this has been most years, I’m really thinking they might just combine the two Sound categories into a single one. Which will be interesting to see how the guilds react, if they do at all, or if anyone’s gonna care.

But anyway, the Sound categories have to be taken as a pair, so we’re doing Editing right after Mixing. Pretty much the same deal — same precursors, eyeball it, you know the drill.

The guild for Sound Editing is MPSE. And here’s them vs. the Oscars, historically:

  • 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.
  • 2018: A Quiet Place wins SFX+Foley, Bohemian Rhapsody wins Dialogue+ADR and Music in a Musical, Into the Spider-Verse won Music and Roma won Foreign Language. Bohemian Rhapsody wins both Sound Oscars.

So that’s that guild. Also of note is that 7 of the past 10 years, the same film won both Sound categories. 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018. In the three split years, Les Mis won Mixing and Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty TIED for Editing in 2012, Whiplash won Mixing and American Sniper won Editing in 2014 and Arrival won Editing and Hacksaw Ridge won Mixing in 2016. 2014, most people had those cold, I think. Sniper was the obvious choice in Editing and Whiplash felt like the choice in Mixing, especially after a BAFTA Sound win. Les Mis was the obvious Mixing choice in 2012, especially after a BAFTA win, but no one expected that tie. And 2016, those categories somehow swapped. Though again, it should be noted that Arrival also won the BAFTA. Hence why the categories seem swapped. That one BAFTA category is kind of just a straight Mixing category. But point is, if the categories aren’t gonna match exactly, then BAFTA will usually tell you how at least one of them’s gonna go. So you’re in good hands.

Best Sound Editing


Ford v Ferrari


Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

I think I had this category on my guess list. Or maybe I missed one, I forget. But somehow I remember guessing that Star Wars would only get on Editing and not both, even though all the previous in the trilogy managed both categories. So that was cool. Otherwise, Once Upon a Time and Joker got on both categories, which isn’t that surprising, and the two big and obvious contenders got on too. Not a whole lot of surprises in this one. Mixing’s the only one who threw us that curveball with Ad Astra getting on out of nowhere.

Here are the precursors to this point:

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

BAFTA still has to announce, so they’ll light the way on which one is the favorite going into Oscar night, but for now, I’m playing the same game as I did in Mixing. You kind of have to until you have all the information.


5. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker — It’s only got three nominations, no one really cares, and no Star Wars film has won a Sound Oscar since the first one. They didn’t really have an Editing category for the first trilogy, but Mixing, nothing’s won since the first one, and the previous two films of the trilogy got nominated in both Sound categories and lost every time. Can’t see this as more than a fifth choice.

4. Joker — Honestly, I could make more of an aural case for Star Wars than this. But 11 nominations, maybe it’ll get votes? I honestly can’t even see that many people, even if they loved the film, going all in on it in the Sound categories. You’d have to be really dedicated to the film for that to happen. Can’t see this getting anything resembling real votes here.

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — Another one I can’t really see getting too many votes. Some people will not know the difference between the Sound categories and vote for things in both. And since this has a slight chance in Mixing, that’s why it’s third here too. Because people will just put it on both if they’re putting it at all. But absent a precursor anywhere, and us clearly knowing which way the winds are blowing in this category, I can’t really make a case for anything other than the top two choices as the probable winners.

2. Ford v Ferrari — Again, it’s second because BAFTA still has to announce, they have a single Sound category and I’m assuming 1917 will win it. Giving 1917 BAFTA and one MPSE and then Ford v Ferrari with just CAS and another MPSE. Plus 1917 is a war film that’s likely to win Best Picture. It’s a 50/50 toss up, but I think for the moment this has to be the second choice owing to the overall status of the other film.

1. 1917 — The Sound categories generally match. If this is gonna win anything, it’s Editing. Personally, I’d go Ferrari here and then we can talk about Mixing. But people generally vote for the same film in both. And if this wins BAFTA, then I’m thinking it wins both. If Ford v Ferrari wins BAFTA, then it’ll get interesting. That’s what I want to see. But for now, I’m making this the favorite and I feel pretty good knowing both Sound categories are basically a coin flip’s choice.

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