Cinema Audio Society Awards: ‘Birdman’ wins over Oscars rivals ‘American Sniper’ and ‘Interstellar’

At Saturday’s Cinema Audio Society Awards, “Birdman” bested three of its Oscar rivals for Best Sound Mixing — “American Sniper,” “Interstellar” and “Unbroken“. The fifth Oscar contender, “Whiplash,” was snubbed here in favor of “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

We had predicted this to be a close race between “Interstellar” and “American Sniper,” with the former in the lead heading into the awards show. At the Oscars, the CAS-snubbed “Whiplash” is barely ahead of “American Sniper” (which is in first in the Sound Editing race) followed closely by “Interstellar.”

And “Birdman” is way down in fourth, just ahead of “Unbroken.” Will it get a boost from winning this precursor prize? It also pulled off an upset at the Makeup and Hairstyling Guild awards on Saturday, winning Contemporary Hairstyling over “Guardians of the Galaxy.” 

The CAS kudos, now in their 51st year, have an uneven track record as a preview to the Oscars. Indeed, only about two-thirds of the CAS nominees go on to even contend for Best Sound Mixing at the Academy Awards.  

Last year, “Gravity” won Best Live-Action Sound Mixing at the Cinema Audio Society Awards, beating Oscar rivals “Captain Phillips,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “Lone Survivor” as well as “Iron Man 3.” At the Oscars, “Iron Man” lost out to “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” for the fifth Sound Mixing bid. “Gravity” repeated at the Oscars. 

In 2012, only three of the five CAS nominees — “Les Miserables,”  “Lincoln” and “Skyfall” — went on to reap Oscar bids. “Les Miserables” won both awards. The rest of the CAS slate — “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey“and “Zero Dark Thirty” — was replaced at the Oscars by “Argo” and “Life of Pi.”   

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In 2011, “Hugo” won over “Hanna,” “Moneyball,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Super 8” ath CAS. It went on to claim the Oscar as well with only “Moneyball” also contending there. The other Oscar nominees were: “The Girl with the Dragon Tatttoo,” “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” and “War Horse.” 

In 2010, “True Grit” edged out “Black Swan,” “Inception,” “Shutter Island” and “The Social Network” for the CAS award. “Inception” beat it as well as “The Social Network,” “Salt” and “The King’s Speech” at the Oscars.   

In 2009, the CAS bestowed its top prize on “The Hurt Locker” which went on to win the Oscar as well. Four of the five Cinema Audio Society nominees for sound mixing also contended at the Oscars with just “District 9” being replaced by “Inglourious Basterds.”  

In both 2008 and 2007 three of the five CAS picks for sound mixing were Oscar nominees as well. “Slumdog Millionaire” won with both the CAS and the Oscars in 2008. The 2007 CAS champ was “No Country for Old Men” and the Oscar went to “The Bourne Ultimatum.”

And though “Dreamgirls” took both prizes in 2006, in each of the previous four years the CAS winner lost at the Oscars. (In 2002, CAS winner “Master and Commander” lost the sound-mixing Oscar to “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” but it won the prize for sound editing.) 

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On the animated feature side, “Big Hero 6” upset “The Lego Movie” as well as “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Penguins of Madagascar” and “The Boxtrolls.” 

The TV winners were “Game of Thrones,” “Modern Family,” “Sherlock: His Last Vow” and “Foo Fighters Sonic Highways: Los Angeles.” 

The lifetime achievement honor was given to production sound mixer David Macmillan, a three-time Oscar champ (“The Right Stuff,” “Apollo 13” and “Speed”) while writer/director Richard Linklater (“Boyhood“) was feted with the filmmaker award. 

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