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Oscar predictions 2013: Sounding off on sound

The
Gold Standard

February 20, 2013|By Glenn Whipp
  • Anne Hathaway sounded much better than she looked in "Les Miserables," making the film a favorite for the sound mixing category.
Anne Hathaway sounded much better than she looked in "Les Miserables,"… (Universal Pictures )

Gold Standard writer Glenn Whipp is sweeping through all 24 Oscar categories this week, assessing the races, predicting the winners and helping you prevail in your Oscar pools. He tackled the troublesome shorts categories here. Now it's time to peek behind the wall of sound.

Three movies — "Argo," "Life of Pi" and "Skyfall" — landed nominations in both the sound editing and sound mixing categories. Four of the last five years, the same movie has taken both categories, with "Hugo" being the latest to pull off that particular feat.

We're doubting that will happen this year, given that (A) voters love to bestow the sound mixing award to music-driven movies ("Dreamgirls," "Ray" and "Chicago" being fairly recent examples) and (B) this year's musical nominee, "Les Miserables," spent months shouting from the rooftops (or should we say barricades?) about the delicate, "innovative" process of its live, on-set singing.

That said, "Life of Pi" could prove, like "Hugo" last year, to be a below-the-line Oscar powerhouse. And there's the off chance that "Argo" could just keep winning everything in sight, including sound, even though it's not really a movie you remember for that particular element.

OSCARS 2013: Complete list | Snubs & surprises 

Here's the breakdown:

SOUND EDITING

"Argo," Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn
"Django Unchained," Wylie Stateman
"Life of Pi," Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton
"Skyfall," Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers
"Zero Dark Thirty," Paul N.J. Ottosson

And the winner is ... "Life of Pi." Gearty and Stockton won this Oscar last year for "Hugo," and their work on "Pi" — the thunder of the crashing waves, the digitally rendered roar of the tiger, the frenzy of the flying fish — is crucial to its success. "Pi" just picked up two prizes from the Motion Picture Sound Editors over the weekend, and the academy should follow suit.

Unless ... It's a really big night for "Argo."

SOUND MIXING

"Argo," John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and José Antonio García
"Les Misérables," Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes
"Life of Pi," Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin
"Lincoln," Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins
"Skyfall," Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell and Stuart Wilson

OSCARS 2013: Play-at-Home ballot | Oscar Watch 

And the winner is ... "Les Miserables." "Pi" could well win here, but we suspect that "Les Miz," which has picked up awards from BAFTA, the Motion Picture Sound Editors and the Cinema Audio Society, will prevail. Recording the singing live posed a huge challenge, and even if the results were hit-and-miss, voters will recognize the effort involved.

Unless ... "Pi," like "Hugo" last year, sweeps both categories.

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