Will rough waters bring Sound Oscars to ‘All is Lost’ or ‘Captain Phillips’?

Will the sounds of the ocean push “All is Lost” or “Captain Phillips” to Oscar wins for Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing? Both films use the elements to dramatize their characters’ plights. The protagonist of “Life of Pi” faced a similar lost-at-sea dilemma last year, but even though that film was nominated in both categories, it won neither.

“Lost” and “Phillips” will have to get past “Gravity,” Alfonso Cuaron‘s technically audacious film that uses sound to great effect to tell the story of characters who are also stranded in the middle of nowhere: in space orbiting Earth.

They might also have to contend against “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which could continue the tradition of music-driven films winning Best Sound Mixing. The Coen Brothers’ 1960s-set dramedy features a number of folk songs sung by a cast that includes Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, and Justin Timberlake.

A musical won Sound Mixing just last year (“Les Miserables“), and several others have also prevailed in the last decade: “Chicago,” “Ray,” and “Dreamgirls.” However, musicals generally don’t win Sound Editing, and usually aren’t even nominated there.

That’s an unusual trend, because the sound categories often go hand-in-hand. In the last six years, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing have gone to the same film four times: “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), “The Hurt Locker” (2009), “Inception” (2010), and “Hugo” (2011).

Last year was an exception, and it was also the first time in 18 years there was a tie at the Oscars: “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Skyfall” shared the Sound Editing award, while “Les Mis” took Mixing.

War-themed films are often honored in the sound categories. The aforementioned “The Hurt Locker” won both. “Letters from Iwo Jima,” “Black Hawk Down,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Saving Private Ryan” have also won sound awards in recent years. The could be good news for some of this year’s contenders, including “The Book Thief” and “Lone Survivor.”

Like Best Visual Effects, Oscar’s sound categories often favor big-budget action films. Recent winners that fit that mold include “The Dark Knight,” “King Kong,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” and “Return of the King,” “The Matrix,” and last year’s James Bond thriller “Skyfall.”

This year a number of big budget blockbusters could be in contention, including “Iron Man 3,” “Man of Steel,” “Pacific Rim,” “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.”

Review the Sound Mixing and Sound Editing contenders below and make your predictions. Then make sure to visit our predictions center to enter your picks in the rest of this year’s Oscar categories.

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