I‘m not going to pretend I have some over-arching knowledge or insight when it comes to these two categories, but history and the nature of some of these films suggest to me we have a few films to consider front-runners and several films to consider as possibilities.
To begin, Robert Zemeckis‘ Flight may not depend on an in-your-face sound mix throughout the duration of the film, but when it’s required the team that includes William B. Kaplan (Sound Mixer) and Randy Thom (Re-Recording Mixer and Sound Designer), Dennis Leonard (Re-Recording Mixer and Sound Editor) and Dennis Sands (Re-Recording Mixer) truly deliver.
Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty seems like another title to pay close attention to as she has brought back the same duo that won both sound Oscars for The Hurt Locker in Paul N.J. Ottosson (Sound Designer, Re-Recording Mixer and Supervising Sound Editor) and Ray Beckett (Production Sound Mixer).
The Impossible and its tsunami sequence may be looking at a Visual Effects nod, but the sound behind the crashing waves are just as important and Oriol Tarrago and his team, which also includes Peter Glossop (Sound Mixer), Marc Orts (Re-Recording Mixer) and Marc Blanes (Score Mixing) may be looking at nominations, with Glossop the only one of the bunch to be previously nominated for his work on Shakespeare in Love.
Then I just have this feeling Les Miserables is going to get some sound love, primarily due to the conceit of having all the actors sing live on set, teh mixing and editing of that together could play big with voters seeing how it is a bit unique.
Obvious contenders then also include the summer blockbusters such as The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus, though I have this feeling the debate over Bane’s voice in The Dark Knight Rises and the clatter and clang of The Avengers (a sound design I felt was more loud than it was good) are going to have a hard time getting in.
Then there’s Skyfall, the blockbuster of the year that seems to have captured the bulk of the kudos attention, and while the major awards are unlikely some consolation technical awards are not unlikely. After all, this one is boasting a sound department that includes four-time Oscar winner Scott Millan (Sound Re-recording Mixer) and 15-time nominee Greg Russell (Sound Re-recording Mixer).
Perhaps Cloud Atlas stands a chance and obviously you have The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Django Unchained to consider and perhaps Life of Pi, which has its own moments of crashing waves matched with serene silence, not to mention all of which was created with virtually zero usable production audio.
Personally, if I could suggest one film that won’t be nominated, but really should, I’d like to offer Samsara, a film that should not only be considered for Sound, but Cinematography, Score, Editing and Best Documentary. Will it be? Tough to say, it’s a film best experienced on a massive screen, but most voters will likely catch it on a screener at home where it won’t be nearly as absorbing.
All that said, I have five front-runners in both Sound Mixing and Editing and they are Flight, The Impossible, Skyfall, Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables. I have posted my predictions for both categories with those five films listed as the most likely to be nominated followed by several additional contenders at this moment, though don’t take the ordering too seriously at this time.
Soon we will start to get a greater idea of which films are making the largest splash with the voters and figuring out our front-runners will be a bit easier, but for now you can check out my full field for Sound Mixing here and Sound Editing here.