Those Oscar Missed: Best Sound Editing

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CONTRIBUTED BY JAKE THOMPSON

I often wonder what most people think of when they’re watching the categories of Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing during the Oscars.  Do they pretend to know what those categories really mean?  Do they even know the difference between them (besides the category name)?  I admit that I was once one of those people, but just a little bit of research cleared the issue for me a long time ago.  As previously mentioned, sound mixing refers to sound that is recorded on set during production.  Sound editing refers to the editing and/or design of recorded sound that is to be used in the final mix of the film.  Hard to believe, but even the Academy hasn’t always gotten it right with the Best Sound Editing category.  Let us now “hear” the major snubs for this category.

One major snub is 1978’s Superman.  Supervising sound editor Chris Greenham was responsible for putting together the various sounds recorded for this film and creating an interesting soundscape.  Sounds had to be created (or edited together) for, among other things, the destruction of Krypton sequence, the creation of the Fortress of Solitude, the entire earthquake sequence (including flooding), Lex Luthor’s special audio frequency that only Superman (and some dogs) could hear, Superman’s pursuit of the rocket, and the reversal of time sequence (that starts with Superman’s thunderous scream).  It’s a shame that Greenham wasn’t recognized for his work here.  Greenham is a one-time nominee (1 Visual Effects win for 1961’s The Guns of Navarone).

Surprisingly, there were no nominees at the 51st Academy Awards (the award was not given out that year).

Another major snub is 1981’s Blow Out.  Sound editor Michael Moyse and supervising sound editor Dan Sable were responsible for putting together the various sounds recorded for this film and creating one of the best soundscapes to ever grace a Brian DePalma film.  Among the sounds that were edited together would be sounds for the original car “accident” sequence, the entire opening sequence that turns out to be an excerpt from a fictional cheap slasher flick, John Travolta recreating the “accident” by first shooting still photos of the “accident” frame by frame onto film and then adding his sound recording to it to see how it plays out.  It’s too bad they weren’t nominated for this film, for they have yet to be nominated for an Oscar.

Also surprisingly, there were no nominees at the 54th Academy Awards, but a Special Achievement Award was given to Ben Burtt and Richard Anderson for Raiders of the Lost Ark.

One major snub that definitely comes to mind is 1992’s Army of Darkness.  Sound designer and editor Lance Brown had the task of editing together the various sounds recorded for this film and created a soundscape that is instantly recognizable as a Sam Raimi soundscape.  Among the sounds edited together would be sounds for the pit sequence where Ash battles a Deadite, the sequence where the old woman becomes possessed by the Deadites and exclaims that everyone will die (also known as the “She-bitch” sequence), the sequence where Ash attempts to retrieve the Necronomicon, the Deadite invasion of the castle, the sequence where Ash gets a new hand, and the S-Mart finale.  The Academy should be ashamed for not nominating this film here, for Brown has yet to be recognized.

The actual nominees at the 65th Academy Awards were:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula – Tom McCarthy & David Stone (*Winner)
Aladdin – Mark Mangini
Under Siege – John Leveque & Bruce Stambler

2005’s Kingdom of Heaven is yet another major snub.  Supervising sound editor Per Hallberg had the task of editing together the various sounds recorded for this film and created another terrific Ridley Scott soundscape.  Among the sounds edited together would be sounds for the swordmaking sequence at the blacksmith’s shop, the battle for Balian’s capture, Balian’s knighting sequence, the storm sequence, Balian’s first encounter with Imad in the desert, the battle at Kerak, the irrigation sequence at Ibelin, the Crusaders’ march into the desert, and the siege at Jerusalem.  It’s too bad the Academy didn’t nominate Hallberg for this terrific work.  Hallberg is a three-time nominee (1 nod for 1997’s Face/Off, 2 wins for 1995’s Braveheart and 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum).

The actual nominees at the 78th Academy Awards were:
King Kong – Mike Hopkins & Ethan Van Der Ryn (*Winner)
War of the Worlds – Richard King
Memoirs of a Geisha – Wylie Stateman

One final major snub would be 2007’s Spider-Man 3.  Paul N.J. Ottosson had the task of editing together the various sounds recorded for this film and created another Raimi-esque soundscape.  Among the sounds edited together would be sounds for the various fights between Spider-Man and Sandman, Spider-Man and Venom, and Peter and Harry, as well as the sequences featuring the deconstruction and rebirth of Flint Marko as the Sandman, and the birth of Venom sequence.  It’s a shame Ottosson wasn’t nominated for his work here.  Ottosson is a three-time nominee (2 Sound Editing nods for 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and 2008’s The Hurt Locker, 1 Sound Mixing win for 2008’s The Hurt Locker).

The actual nominees at the 80th Academy Awards were:
The Bourne Ultimatum – Karen Baker Landers & Per Hallberg (*Winner)
No Country For Old Men – Skip Lievsay
Ratatouille – Randy Thom & Michael Silvers
There Will Be Blood – Christopher Scarabosio & Matthew Wood
Transformers – Mike Hopkins & Ethan Van Der Ryn

Other films that were considered include 1980’s Superman II, 2004’s Miracle, and 2011’s Super 8.

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