In the audio categories at the Oscars, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, typically the loudest film wins. So there’s one film this year that was almost tailor-made to sweep those prizes: Christopher Nolan’s WWII drama “Dunkirk.” Should the film sweep it would be the second Nolan film to do so and the 17th overall.
The Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing categories have gone through a lot of transformations at the Oscars over the years, at least in how they’re classified. The Oscars first started handing out one award for a film’s audio, Best Sound Recording, in 1929 with “The Big House” taking the inaugural award. Then the category became Best Sound in 1958 with the musical “South Pacific” becoming the first winner under that name. And finally it became Best Sound Mixing in 2003 with “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” taking home the first prize.
The academy added an additional audio category, Best Sound Effects, in 1963 with “Its a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” winning the inaugural trophy. The category evolved into Best Sound Effects Editing in 1982, when “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” won. Finally, it became Best Sound Editing in 2000 with “U-571” prevailing.
For the past 14 years the two audio categories have been classified as Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing. And during those 14 years seven films have swept both audio categories: “King Kong” (2005), “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), “The Hurt Locker” (2009), Nolan’s “Inception” (2010), “Hugo” (2011), “Gravity” (2013) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015).
But before that, under different names, the categories aligned another nine times: “Grand Prix” (1967), “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), “The Right Stuff” (1983), “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991), “Jurassic Park” (1993), “Speed” (1994), “Titanic” (1997), “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) and “The Matrix” (1999). And that doesn’t count the years when the Sound Editing award was presented as a special achievement award. On one of those occasions “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) was honored for both achievements.
This year “Dunkirk” is joined by the same four films in both categories: “Baby Driver,” “Blade Runner 2049,” “The Shape of Water” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” “The Shape of Water” and “Dunkirk” are the only films also nominated for Best Picture.
Currently “Dunkirk” has the lead in Best Sound Mixing with odds of 1/4, but right on its heels is “Baby Driver” with odds of 7/1. Meanwhile “The Shape of Water” sits in last place with odds of 66/1. “Dunkirk” has a slightly more secure lead in the Best Sound Editing race with odds of 2/11. “Baby Driver” is in the backseat in second place with odds of 12/1. And “The Shape of Water” ranks fourth with odds of 40/1.
However, “Dunkirk” should watch out for a “Shape of Water” upset as it is the most nominated film with 13 bids. And since the academy expanded the Best Picture lineup in 2009 all of the winners in the audio categories with the exception of “Skyfall” (which tied for Best Sound Editing with “Zero Dark Thirty,” 2012) were nominated for Best Picture. And no film that has swept the audio categories was not amongst the Best Picture lineup during those years.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in all 24 categories. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your Oscar winner predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on March 4.