The LAMB Devours The Oscars: Sound Editing

by Lucien · February 8, 2014 · LAMB Devours the Oscars, Uncategorized · No Comments
Editor’s note: This is part of a 37-part series dissecting the 86th Academy Awards, brought to you by the Large Association of Movie Blogs and its assorted members. Nearly every day leading up to the Oscars, at least one new post written by a different LAMB will be published, each covering a different category  of the Oscars. Also, every Best Picture and Best Director nominee gets its own post. To read the other posts regarding this event, please click here. Thank you, and enjoy!



At last year’s Academy Awards, there was an unpredictable and quite shocking tie for the winner of Best Sound Editing. The respective sound editors of Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty both went home with (technically) half an Oscar. Will the same thing happen this year? Chances are- absolutely not, especially with discussion of a possible first-ever Best Picture tie between 12 Years A Slave and American Hustle on the horizon. That said, all of the films nominated this year, even to my admittedly unprofessional ears, have excellent sound editing. Let’s begin…


JC Chandor’s near silent survival drama, for which Robert Redford was snubbed a Best Actor nomination as the film’s isolated sole character, relies very heavily on sound effects to convey the consistently life-threatening situation which ‘Our Man’ finds himself at the centre of. Despite winning for Original Score Golden Globe, the score features surprisingly little, and so the constant rocking of Our Man’s boat, the water swaying back and forth and the noise of the storm are what accompanies the majority of the action.


Another intense survival drama, Alfonso Cuaron’s Best Picture-nominated masterpiece is set in a space so silent that you may even struggle to remember many sound effects. However, after Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone gets inside the Russian Space Station, there is a lot of background noise, and even things as small as the drilling in the opening scene- the sound of which is diluted as we see things through Ryan’s soundproof helmet- are expertly created.


Inarguably one of the most technically competent films of 2013, Peter Jackson’s very entertaining second Hobbit adventure contained much to marvel at visually, but also in the audio department. Benedict Cumberbatch is a fantastic actor, but there’s no doubt he was assisted by the sound editors in making his performance as Smaug one of the year’s best and most terrifying.


Explosions! Fire! Death! Peter Berg’s military melodrama saw Mark Wahlberg and his team of Navy Seals head into the middle of the war on terror, encountering many very interesting and engaging sounds on their travels.


Now here’s a film where the sound was important! Like All Is Lost, Paul Greengrass’ brutal and brilliant story of Richard Phillips, the US captain taken hostage by Somali pirates (the leader of which is played by newcomer and Oscar nominee Barkhad Abdi), required the right sound effects to give the illusion of an oceanic setting, and boy did it succeed! The most captivating and emotionally gripping cinema experience the right side of Gravity, the film’s constantly shaky camera and compelling performances were helped greatly by the sound editing.

So there’s my take on the Sound Editing of five films I saw in 2013, all of which happen to be nominated for Best Sound Editing? Know more about Sound Editing than me (which is very likely)? Feel free to praise or criticise these films’ Sound Editing in the comments below!


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