If best animated film, best documentary feature, and best director begat the year’s most conspicuous snubs (for The Lego Movie, Life Itself, and Ana DuVerny, respectively), best sound mixing boasts the most controversial nomination: Interstellar. Personally, we’d like to thank the trio of Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, and Mark Weingarten for doing all they could within their power to drown out the Nolan brothers’ pompous dialogue in favor of Hans Zimmer’s IMAX-sized music cues, but even we’d draw the line at giving them the actual trophy, and there’s little doubt that the Academy’s sizeable ear trumpet-hoisting constituency will too.
Common sense says: When the field seems evenly matched, double up on the two categories that should probably have long ago been combined into one. That wouldn’t do much to narrow down the choices here. In addition to that aforementioned wormhole time-suck, American Sniper, Birdman, and Unbroken are all nominated across both fields. The two war films may, but likely won’t, cut into each other’s support too significantly. Unbroken’s box office cume and moment in the zeitgeist is no match for American Sniper’s heat, though we imagine there may be enough people in Hollywood buying into the simplest assumptions about the latter film’s success in Middle America to give them serious pause.
Unbroken nominees Jon Taylor and Frank A. Montaño are probably hedging their bets and preparing their speech on behalf of their nod for Birdman. Their swirling textures stand shoulder with Emmanuel Lubezki’s visual pirouettes nicely. But the film is nothing if not an MRA remix of Black Swan wearing an “Old Fart” trucker cap, with a notably less active sound design than the Aronofsky film, which wasn’t even nominated here in the first place. Almost by default, we have to presume the BAFTA-endorsed Whiplash will paradiddle its way to a win. It’s a loud, brassy, pile-driving, nasty little headache of a movie that, as we previously established, is for all intents and purposes a “musical,” a genre that often does better than expected in this category. And, unlike with Interstellar, at least you can hear every syllable of its toxic dialogue.
Will Win: Whiplash
Could Win: American Sniper
Should Win: Birdman