When trying to figure out what will win the sound awards this year, it's probably best to ignore or at least downplay the two p's—precedent and precursors—and instead try to imagine what, exactly, Oscar voters likely remember they heard when they watched each film, especially when it comes to this category and its vestigial connection to what the Academy used to call "sound effects." To wit:
Iron Man: "Rattle rattle, thunder clatter, boom boom boom."
WALL-E: "Beep borp boop, beepity boppity boop, brap tap tooie. Put on your Sunday clothes there's lots of world out there. Eeee-va! Waaaa-lee! Eeee-va! Waaaa-lee!"
Wanted: "Sorry, let me move into the other room for a minute, dear. No, I didn't drop anything. The kids are watching my screener of Wanted in the other room."
The Dark Knight: "Operator surveillance, please give me Jesus (or a reasonably comparable martyr figure) on the line. And let him listen to all my phone conversations just like Bush did."
Slumdog Millionaire: "This is what it sounds like when doves collectively spunk you in the face with their hot-pink jizz."
In plain English, you could spend a lot of time agonizing over what seems a pretty even playing field, but this is one of those years where the din of everything else stands to be drowned out completely by the unstoppable white noise of a juggernaut.
Will Win: Slumdog Millionaire
Should Win: WALL-E
This blog entry was originally published on Slant Magazine on the date above.