2016 Precursor Predictions: Motion Picture Sound Editors

The Motion Picture Sound Editors were the stragglers of the guild nominations announcements, but they are right in the thick of handing out awards. With so many categories, they have plenty of chances to match the Oscar winner, so their selections may be intriguing.


Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects and Foley in a Feature Film

Arrival (Tripp, RU:Peter)
Captain America: Civil War
Deepwater Horizon (RU:Wesley, RU:Thomas)
Doctor Strange
Hacksaw Ridge (Wesley, Peter, Thomas, RU:Tripp)
The Jungle Book
Rogue One

Wesley Lovell: Sound Effects and Foley, this is where the magic of sound creation happens. It’s this category that tends to favor the film with the most and most original sound effects. While all of them are strong entries, things may come down to potentially three films: war drama Hacksaw Ridge, explosion-heavy Deepwater Horizon, and alien sci-fi Arrival. I want to say Arrival will win simply because it was the film that had to create the most original effects, but this group loves war movies and the sheer volume of effects in Deepwater Horizon may be more likely. All three films are Oscar nominees, so one of them will likely win. However, it’s a neck-and-neck-and-neck race and my predictions are far from assured.
Peter J. Patrick: The obvious choice here is Hacksaw Ridge, unless they’re going for subtlety, in which case Arrival wins.
Tripp Burton: With no La La Land, this is between Oscar nominees Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival. I have no idea which will win, but I’ll guess the BAFTA-winning Arrival.
Thomas LaTourette: A case could be made for all of these, but I will go with Hacksaw Ridge.

Best Sound Editing: Dialogue and ADR in a Feature Film

Arrival (Wesley, Tripp)
Hacksaw Ridge (Thomas, RU:Tripp)
Hidden Figures (Peter)
Hell or High Water (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Thomas)
Rogue One

Wesley Lovell: Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) are less creative, but no less crucial elements of sound creation. Sometimes you don’t get the sound you want and this is where that sound is fixed and manipulated to reach the desired effect. There is still creativity involved, but they seldom have to create sound out of wholecloth. Three Oscar nominees are in this category as well Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge pulled double duty in the top two sound effects categories and they are joined by Sully. I give the edge here to Arrival simply because of the volume of dialogue, both human and alien, that needed to be created. While there is a grey area between this and sound effects, the group may want to reward the film somehow. It’s also possible that Hacksaw Ridge gets the prize, but strangely I’m giving the dialogue heavy Hell or High Water a better chance at the prize than either of the two Oscar nominees. I’m not certain of any of this, though.
Peter J. Patrick: The film with the biggest cast spouting the clearest dialogue would seem to be the one they’d go for. That means Hidden Figures, with Hell or High Water runner-up.
Tripp Burton: With no La La Land, this is between Oscar nominees Hacksaw Ridge and Arrival. I have no idea which will win, but I’ll guess the BAFTA-winning Arrival.
Thomas LaTourette: I could see any film winning, but Hacksaw might get a few from the sound editors.

Best Sound Editing & Music in an Animation Feature Film

Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings (Wesley, Peter, Tripp)
Moana (Thomas, RU:Wesley)
The Little Prince
The Red Turtle
Sing (RU:Thomas)
Zootopia (RU:Peter, RU:Tripp)

Wesley Lovell: Animated films are one of the specialized types of features that get their own category. These films have the luxury of inventing sound and image in tandem whereas live-action films typically do much of the work in post-production. Among these, two films have a great deal of ambient and creative sound uses and both of them seem likely to lead the charge. Kubo and the Two Strings, being the more adventurous of these films, has a lot of space to fill and by sheer volume, likely bests all the othe films. Moana has the edge on Zootopia thanks to its copious amounts of inventive and original sounds. Zootopia is mostly a version of the real world, which means fewer sounds need to be created and adapted.
Peter J. Patrick: The clear as a bell sounds of Kubo and the Two Strings should take this over Zootopia, the only other likely winner.
Tripp Burton: Yet again, we are down between Kubo and the Two Strings and Zootopia. I’ll guess the more effects-heavy Kubo wins here.
Thomas LaTourette: One of the musicals could win here, with Moana being the stronger candidate.

Best Sound Editing & Music in a Feature Documentary

13th (Peter)
Amanda Knox (Tripp)
Before the Flood
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years (Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Tripp, RU:Thomas)
The Eagle Huntress
The Ivory Game
The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble (Thomas, RU:Wesley)
Passage to Mars

Wesley Lovell: Documentaries are the second of the three groups that have their own combined sound editing and music categories. These films rarely have to create sound, just punch it up and embellish it where necessary. I give the edge to music documentaries simply because they have to balance multiple elements together and cleaning up music isn’t as easy as cleaning up background noise, or so I would imagine. That’s why The Beatles tops my predictions and The Music of Strangers comes in second. 13th is also a possibilities, as are any of the others since guessing what the MPSE will adore most is challenging.
Peter J. Patrick: Without O.J. in the running, 13th is the most distinguished nominee and likeliest winner, but the sounds of the Beatles could lead them in a different direction.
Tripp Burton: With no O.J.: Made in America, this is a wide-open race. The tense sound design of Amanda Knox should push it over the edge here.
Thomas LaTourette: I will guess that a documentary about music would win.

Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue and ADR in a Feature Foreign Language Film

Elle (Peter, Thomas)
The Handmaiden (Wesley, Tripp)
The King’s Choice (RU:Thomas)
Neruda (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter)
Toni Erdmann
Under the Shadow (RU:Tripp)

Wesley Lovell: The third and final subset of films that get their own separate categories is foreign films. It’s strange to see them separated out, but I suppose the vast membership of the MPSE are American and recognizing their foreign peers over their own may just be a bridge too far. The Handmaiden was one of the most technically challenging and celebrated films on the list. Neruda could also be a major player. I dont’ see Elle or Toni Erdmann as very serious contenders.
Peter J. Patrick: Lots going on in Elle and Neruda, making them more appealing choices here than the more heavily lauded Toni Erdmann.
Tripp Burton: Under the Shadow has an effectively creepy sound design, but I’ll guess the technical spectacular The Handmaiden wins here.
Thomas LaTourette: Elle is the best known of these, and the rape scenes were tense, so it could win.

Best Sound Editing: Music in a Feature Film

Arrival (Wesley, Peter)
Doctor Strange (Tripp)
Don’t Breathe
Hacksaw Ridge (Thomas)
Rogue One (RU:Wesley, RU:Peter, RU:Thomas)
Star Trek: Beyond (RU:Tripp)
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Wesley Lovell: Separating out music achievements from others is a good choice for this group. They can recognize films that might not otherwise have tons of effects woven into them. Two of the Oscar nominees are here, Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge. One of the elements most talked about and celebrated in the film Arrival is its inventive and well integrated score. I think it probably has this category in the back, though I wouldn’t count out any of the others.
Peter J. Patrick: The haunting music of Arrival should keep it heads above the rest.
Tripp Burton: No La La Land here, and I have no idea. This is a wild guess.
Thomas LaTourette: A film with lots of battle scenes often wins here. I will give Hacksaw Ridge the edge over Rogue One.

Best Sound Editing: Music in a Musical Feature Film

Florence Foster Jenkins (RU:Thomas)
La La Land (Wesley, Peter, Tripp, Thomas)
Moana (RU:Wesley, RU:Tripp)
Sing Street
Trolls (RU:Peter)

Wesley Lovell: So that musicals won’t compete unfairly with regular films, since music is a much more crucial part of their structures, the MPSE has separated them out. Only one Oscar nominees is on this list and that’s a rarity, so not seleting it as the de facto winner is a bad idea. Moana, with its nomination in the animation category, is likely the runner-up, but don’t count out the shrillness of Florence Foster Jenkins.
Peter J. Patrick: The music editors of La La Land should prevail here.
Tripp Burton: I don’t see La La Land losing here at all. It is the musical of the year.
Thomas LaTourette: La La Land is the only Oscar nominee in this bunch, so it should easily win.

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