The Oscars 2009: Predictions in Sound & Music

Leading up the Oscars on Feb. 22, I’ll be making my predictions for each of the categories. I’ve seen most of the nominated films, so I feel like I can actually offer informed opinions this year. Tonight, I’ll tackle the sound and music categories.

Sound Editing
From my quick research (in lieu of easily-found descriptions on the Oscar Web sites), I’ve come to believe that Sound Editing more or less encompasses the selection of sound effects.

Nominees

  • “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Richard King
  • “Iron Man” (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment), Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Tom Sayers
  • “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
  • “Wanted” (Universal),Wylie Stateman

Predicted Winner: “Wall-E” (Walt Disney), Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
Out of the nominees, I think Wall-E required the most creativity as far as choosing sound effects that were both whimsical and realistic.

Sound Mixing
Again, from limited research, it appears Sound Mixing is the art of compiling dialog, sound effects and music together to create the soundtrack for the film.

Nominees

  • “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.), David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten (HORRIBLE)
  • “The Dark Knight” (Warner Bros.), Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
  • “WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
  • “Wanted” (Universal), Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

Predicted Winner: “WALL-E” (Walt Disney),Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
I’m going to go with WALL-E here again. When I try to recall anything about the other nominees, I can’t think of anything truly remarkable (except for how remarkably bad I found the sound mixing to be for BENJAMIN BUTTON; it’s possible the theatre I was in was having issues, I guess, but I had a lot of trouble hearing and understanding dialog in certain places). WALL-E, however, had the dust storms, the spaceship landing, the “Put on Your Sunday Clothes” montage… lots of good sound stuff.

Original Score

Hopefully this award is pretty self-explanatory. But, for those not in the know, the score of a film is the music that runs throughout it. The easily recognizable themes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, and the Harry Potter films all come from the scores.

Nominees

  • “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (Paramount and Warner Bros.),Alexandre Desplat
  • “Defiance” (Paramount Vantage), James Newton Howard
  • “Milk” (Focus Features), Danny Elfman
  • “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
  • “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Thomas Newman

Predicted Winner: “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), A.R. Rahman
I don’t remember much from BUTTON, MILK or WALL-E. I haven’t seen DEFIANCE, but I caught an excerpt on youtube. It’s beautiful but traditional, and it has no buzz.
I think SLUMDOG will take this, since the soundtrack is also beautiful, catchy, and something not usually seen in Oscar-nominated films. WALL-E might put up a good fight, but I think SLUMDOG will come out victorious.

Best Original Song

Again, pretty self-explanatory. I still shudder when I think of poor Amy Adams being sent out on stage last year to perform “Happy Working Song” all by her lonesome with only invisible animals to accompany her. Too bad, because that could have been a very cool bit. Oh well. Onto this year.

Nominees

  • “Down to Earth” from “WALL-E” (Walt Disney), Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyric by Peter Gabriel
  • “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
  • “O Saya” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman andMaya Arulpragasam

Predicted Winner: “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire” (Fox Searchlight), Music by A.R. Rahman, Lyric by Gulzar
This is a tough one. All three songs are great. But it seems like SLUMDOG’s going to be the Oscar darling this year. Of the two, I like “Jai Ho” just a little bit better than “O Saya,” though they’re both great. So that’s my pick.

Any thoughts from you all out there? If anyone can offer any better explanations of sound editing vs. sound mixing, feel free to chime in. Next week: The Visual Categories!

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