Last year’s tie in this category allowed us the unique opportunity to call it either 50 percent right or 50 percent wrong, depending on how generous we’re willing to be with ourselves for accurately giving Skyfall our “could win” designation. (On the downside, our “will win” prediction for Life of Pi went the way of the tiger.) But lest anyone think we’re playing it safe by predicting that this year’s contest will add another to what ought to be a near sweep for Gravity in the technical categories, let me be the umpteenth person to point out the perception that the movie’s deliberate lack of woofer-rocking explosions makes it an unorthodox frontrunner. I say “perception,” because even though in space no one can hear you Foley, you’d have to be deaf not to note that Glenn Fremantle’s work, as delivered to your bleeding eardrums via freshly installed Dolby Atmos systems, unleashes some of the most punishingly cacophonous noise this side of Chelyabinsk.
So much so, in fact, that it made everything else nominated in this category sound like The Artist (a conspicuous miss in this category two years ago). The movie’s dynamic range and other aural subtleties—which is to say the things you don’t hear while Sandra Bullock engages in Ujjayi like it’s going out of fashion—make Gravity an even more solid topic for discussion in the sister Sound Mixing category (where it also has the benefit of not having to face the nuanced work in All Is Lost. But here, outshouting the competition never did anyone any harm. And with Captain Phillips and Lone Survivor splitting the field for the voters who pushed the similarly technocratic likes of The Bourne Ultimatum and Kathryn Bigelow’s most recent two to wins, that dog in Aningaaq will soon be howling a little more zealously.
Will Win: Gravity
Could Win: Captain Phillips
Should Win: All Is Lost