How ‘Salt’ could surprise and win Best Sound Mixing

Posted by · 10:21 am · February 25th, 2011

I stopped researching somewhere in the 1970s, but as far as I can tell going back that far, the Best Sound Mixing (formerly Best Sound) category has never included more than three Best Picture nominees. In a number of cases there were two, a great many years saw one and often enough, there were none.

So there’s a theory worth addressing. But before I get to that, first and foremost, the safe money in the category is on “Inception.” However, there should be a bit of pause because the film did not resonate with the Academy enough to land two key nominations (Best Director and Best Film Editing) and it flew over many heads. But it’s the loud blockbuster of the bunch and ought to be considered the frontrunner.

That having been said, when you think of the reality of the Oscars, the winner ballots are largely filled out in blocks of support, sometimes even mandated from on high (no joke). So there are six Best Picture nominees that aren’t represented in the Best Sound Mixing category, and the last thing in-house supporters of those films will want to do is check off a box for a competitor and add to another film’s momentum. The only vote that wouldn’t put wind in anybody else’s sails? “Salt.”

If all five nominees were also chalked up in the Best Picture category, the theory wouldn’t play. Nor would it play if another film were in the mix that didn’t net a Best Picture nomination.  That’s a lot of potential support being thrown behind it in this category.  It’s an interesting, if highly detailed, point of consideration.

Additionally, you all remember how I told you screeners of “Salt” were sent directly to the sound branch in the weeks leading up to the nomination, right?  Well in the wake of that “surprise” nod, Sony sent Blu-rays of the film to the rest of the entire membership, with the sound mixing nominees spotlighted one more time. It’s the only film that showed up the week ballots went out, as everyone had already received screeners of the other films weeks prior.

Just some food for thought.  Both Gerard and I think it deserves it, and plenty in the branch do, too.  In fact, I think if it were just the mixers voting, it’s entirely possible “Salt” would win.  Yes, “True Grit” won the CAS award, but most had not seen “Salt” before they nominated.

Again, the safe money is on “Inception” (or perhaps “True Grit” as a fair alternative).  But this would make for an eyebrow-raising stunner this weekend, no?

[Photo: Columbia Pictures]

→ 16 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

16 responses so far

  • 1 2-25-2011 at 10:28 am

    Edward Douglas said...

    Maybe but then the Oscar voters will get to the first of many ridiculous plot twists and forget all about how good the sound is.

  • 2 2-25-2011 at 10:32 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Indeed, but this is actually positing that they don’t even SEE the film.

  • 3 2-25-2011 at 11:08 am

    San FranCinema said...

    “the winner ballots are largely filled out in blocks of support, sometimes even mandated from on high (no joke)”

    I want to hear more about that!

  • 4 2-25-2011 at 11:17 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Dirty secret.

  • 5 2-25-2011 at 11:49 am

    JTag said...

    Kris, if you want to know Reason #1 why Salt will not win (well, maybe #2, after “Inception’s nominated), please watch Peter Bart’s intro to moderating the SBIFF director’s panel. He holds up his ballot and openly mocks the nomination (and Unstoppable’s as well, if I remember correctly). It was disgusting because it made it very clear that Bart has NO IDEA what he’s talking about, and yet he’s an Oscar voter and considered a “respected” industry source. I;m guessing he’s not the only one who votes for those categories without thinking. I’m willing to bet if you asked half the membership to explain the difference between the two sound categories they wouldn’t be able to do it.

  • 6 2-25-2011 at 11:50 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    What a fucking ass clown. Where can I find a link to that video? I feel like letting him have it for that.

  • 7 2-25-2011 at 12:19 pm

    Graysmith said...

    The first paragraph seems to ignore the fact that we now have ten Best Picture nominees. Last year three of the ten BP nominees got a Sound Mixing nomination, a whopping four of them got a Sound Editing nominations. The Hurt Locker won both categories in something of an upset over Avatar, but it was still a Best Picture nominee (winner) that won. If anything, maybe we ought to speculate whether or not The King’s Speech might pull an upset instead, seeing as it wouldn’t be nearly as gargantuan as what The Hurt Locker did last year (I’m still shocked it could beat Avatar, even though it was a war movie).

  • 8 2-25-2011 at 12:23 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    “The first paragraph seems to ignore the fact that we now have ten Best Picture nominees.”

    Doesn’t matter. Granted, it’s easier with 10 for there to be more than three Best Picture nominees in the sound mixing field, but the logic still applies. I guess I figured it went without saying.

    The King’s Speech thing doesn’t figure into the argument, though it’s certainly worth speculating separately on that (even if it still doesn’t really compute). And I don’t think there was anything particularly shocking about The Hurt Locker winning sound mixing last year. I picked it it, though I picked Avatar for sound editing, thinking it might be a split like with Slumdog/Dark Knight, but a war film winning any sound category should never be considered out of the blue, certainly not a Best Picture-winning war film.

  • 9 2-25-2011 at 12:34 pm

    JTag said...

    Go to the following link:
    “Would more money have made the film better?” Go to the 3:30 mark. (I may have been wrong about Unstoppable)

  • 10 2-25-2011 at 12:40 pm

    JTag said...

    ” seeing as it wouldn’t be nearly as gargantuan as what The Hurt Locker did last year (I’m still shocked it could beat Avatar, even though it was a war movie).”

    Don’t really think it was a surprise, though. You had people like Sandra Bullock calling the film a cartoon before she’d even seen it, and the entire voting body votes on these categories. Cameron himself admitted that he sent his sound people over to see The Hurt Locker to hear the gunshot sounds because he wasn’t happy with what he was hearing on his own film.

    I would love to see “Salt” pick up the sound mix, though Inception is my favorite film of the year.

  • 11 2-25-2011 at 12:50 pm

    Kel D said...

    Could this be the “overdue” win to makeup for another Bening snub? The same happened in 2007 when Arkin finally won, whereas O’Toole was again snubbed

  • 12 2-25-2011 at 1:14 pm

    Ben M. said...

    It’s an interesting theory, though to be honest before I thought Salt was #5 in the category. I think I’m going to stick with my Slumdog/Dark Knight type split and go with True Grit for mixing and Inception for editing.

  • 13 2-25-2011 at 1:21 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I still have it at #5, too. Just saying, is all.

  • 14 2-25-2011 at 1:26 pm

    m1 said...

    It definitely has a shot. If we were judging strictly on the “best” of the category, Salt would have a better shot at winning.

  • 15 8-05-2014 at 3:21 pm

    Jacques said...

    I hope WALL-E ends up on the Best Picture Nod. If it doesn’t I will not watch the oscars.I also like to see the Dark Knight end up on the caertogy, but I’m not giving it too much support because it is the most overrated movie in history. Still, I love that movie.What is it about animated movies to discriminate? Finding Nemo should have receive a Best Picture nod long ago. It had great storytelling. Are people saying that if WALL-E was completely live action, then it deserves the nod?WALL-E is waay better than Shrek. WALL-E is certainly not funnier than Shrek, but Shrek is what it is, a majorily comedy, while WALL-E focused more on a unique storyline. Plus WALL-E costed 180,000,000 to make. So many people worked so hard on it. Ben Burtt did amazing sound design, Stanton wrote his most daring script, the computer graphics were realistic, Newman did a beautiful themed score, etc.,etc.I also find WALL-E to be better than Beauty and the Beast. That was a great movie, but WALL-E told the better story.WALL-E is not one of the bloated romance films like the overrated Titanic. Titanic did nothing but circled around Jack and Rose romance. There were many things going on beside WALL-E’s and EVE’s romance- There was a legathic society, a polluted Earth, and machines discovering life. And WALL-E romance with EVE affected humanity.If WALL-E doesn’t show up on the Best Picture caertogy, I will never watch the Oscars again. Mark my words.WALL-E is no animated film. Saying that is discriminating. WALL-E is a movie.

  • 16 4-08-2015 at 5:34 pm

    Matthew said...

    It’s so awesome that not even a week after the Oscars, we have a poll for 08 Pictures. Haha. I love that, and I for one am very wary of Revolutionary Road. Too many Road’ mevois that seemed sure things turned out to be less than stellar (ROAD TO PERDITION, RESERVATION ROAD). I feel like that Academy is trying to back off of hyped up star-driven vehicles.I’m probably wrong, but I will say for the record that I never bought into Charlie Wilson’s War (however, I did buy into Dreamgirls).It will be fun to see how far off everybody is. Usually for me, 1, if any, films I predict now make it to BP.