In the words of two-time Oscar winning sound editor Randy Thom, awards such as Best Sound Editing, though often referred to as “technical” awards, “are given for artistic decisions. And sometimes we make them better than others.”
Considering the fact that most of the individuals responsible for a film’s creation are not “above the line” talent but rather technicians behind the scenes, it seems more than appropriate that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences extend nominations and Oscar awards to these unsung masses. But such individuals seem to be woefully unrepresented by the world of awards coverage, both sanctioned and unsanctioned.
Can you envision the Coen brothers’ “O Brother Where Art Thou?” without Roger Deakins’s textured cinematography? Would Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” be the same experience without the extraordinary sound work provided by perennial AMPAS favorites Michael Minkler and Wylie Stateman (as well as their respective teams)? Is Oliver Stone’s “JFK” remotely the same film without the tapestry-like film editing of Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia?
Furthermore, the technical branches of the Academy represent a sizeable share of Academy membership. Their opinions of films in play are bound to affect the overall flow of an Oscar race. As such, the fact that these branches are more or less ignored in the media is a startling fact indeed. “Tech Support” at In Contention hopes to shed light on these individual races, which combine to establish nearly half of the yearly Academy Awards ceremony.