Ever since the late 20s-early 30s sound has been a major part of films. Some Silent Film enthusiasts believe it's what damned the film industry but for the most part most people think sound is one of, if not the most important part of a film. If you think about it while visuals ARE important without sound we would be bored to tears. Imagine if films like Black Hawk Down, Transformers or The Bourne series didn't have sound. They wouldn't have been as effective as a film! One of the best scenes in Black Hawk Down is when they are riding across the ocean in the helicopter and all you can hear is the noise of the helicopter. It's such an overpowering sound that adds SO much to the film. Both of the Transformer films use sound to magnify the effect of the transformations. The "Ree kee kee" noise that you hear when they are transforming is almost more exciting than the actual transformation because you know "OH SNAP THAT IS THE SOUND OF THINGS ABOUT TO BE GOING DOWN!" And in a film like Bourne Ultimatum sound is crucial. During the apartment fight scene the music cuts out completely and relies on sound along to make the fight exciting. You hear every punch land, every kicks impact and every prop getting thrown at Bourne and the assailant. It's tension filled without needing sound.
But for some reason we don't really pay attention to these awards or at least the majority of us don't. A lot of people, for some reason only focus on the acting and film awards and completely forget about sound. I'd like to remind those people that without the sound editors and sound mixers that you wouldn't enjoy the movie as much.
First up is Avatar-
Originally called the award for Best Sound, this award has been given out for a long time. Every year since The Big House in 1930 an award has been given for Best Sound (which later evolved into Best Sound Mixing). And this year is no different. As the Movie Encyclopedia I have had the pleasure (or displeasure) of seeing all of these movies that have been nominated this year. And now one by one I will list out the nominees and who I think is most worthy of walking away with the Oscar this year:
First up is Avatar-
Avatar, as most people know, is the high grossing magnum opus from James Cameron. Despite my gripes towards Avatar's story it's hard to say that it wasn't a pretty movie. The visuals were stunning and the sound complimented it well. This talented group of 13 people created a great variety of sounds for the film and mixed it all together well. Every tree, every creature and noise translates well onto the screen and the efforts by the recorders and re-recorders to make a rich, vibrant sound is evident. A definite front runner for the award.
Second is The Hurt Locker-
Kathryn Bigelow's masterpiece (besides Point Break) is not only a front runner for Best Picture but, in my opinion, a definite front runner for Best Sound Mixing. The Hurt Locker depends so much on Sound that it's not even funny. There is very little music in The Hurt Locker so the majority of what you hear is voices and sound effects. And I can tell you that without sound Hurt Locker would be a very boring film. With it though it is a very tense action thriller. Every step, every breath, every tick and every noise is important to create the suspense and tension that this film provides. These 3 talented people came together and have created a wonderfully recorded/re-recorded film.
Third is Inglourious Basterds-
Quentin Tarantino's Nazi/WWII masterpiece is great. All the action, all the suspense and the great writing and directing from Tarantino and the wonderful acting have made this a film that I will remember for a long time. As for the sound, unlike the first two I mentioned, isn't at the forefront of the film. It's there for sure and there are a few scenes (the opening scene with the creaking and the bat scene) that really do play up the sound really well or lack thereof but for the most part the sound takes a back seat. A great film but will not win the award for Best Sound Mixing.
Fourth is Star Trek-
J.J. Abrams took a break from Fringe and Lost to bring us a great re-imagining of the Star Trek Universe. Seven red shirted men were given the task of recording sound for the film. That is and still in my eyes is a daunting task. The sword fight clangs, the ship clanks, creaks and thrusters, the blasters and even the creatures all had to be brought together and mixed to create something special and they did just that. While I think the Academy overlooked this film in the Best Picture category I think that they were right to nominate this for Best Sound Mixing. I'm on the fence whether it will win or not but if it does win I wouldn't be surprised.
And last and certainly least (at least film wise) is Transformers: Rise of the Fallen-
While certainly out of place at the Academy Awards (the Razzies got it covered though) it's hard not to admit that it DOES deserve to be in this category. Whether or not you liked the film, the sound was great. The aforementioned "Ree kee kee" sound as well as all the explosion and fighting effects were crucial to this film. Without the sound this visually stunning film certainly wouldn't be as exciting. In fact the sound is the best part of the movie. The 6 hard working mixers definitely earned their paycheck with this one. Since the first one didn't win I doubt that this one will but like Star Trek I wouldn't be surprised if it did.
Overall I think this is a good category and each of the contenders deserve to be there. I personally think that Hurt Locker SHOULD win the award but I think, along with all the visual awards, Avatar may end up taking this award home.