Will ‘Sound of Metal’ continue the Oscar trend of winning both Film Editing and Sound?

You wouldn’t necessarily think that sound would go hand-in-hand with film editing, but at the Oscars, those awards have often gone to the same film. In fact, the last seven film editing winners in a row have won one or both sound awards (this year the two sound categories were consolidated). And only seven film editing winners in the last 20 years have failed to win a sound prize. Could “Sound of Metal” continue this trend?

While sound and film editing are quite different disciplines, they tend to advantage the same two kinds of films. One kind is action movies that tend to include a lot of fast-paced cuts and explosive audio effects. That includes “Black Hawk Down” (2001), “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), “The Bourne Ultimatum” (2007), “The Hurt Locker” (2009), “Gravity” (2013), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015), “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016), “Dunkirk” (2017) and “Ford v Ferrari” (2019).

Then there are music-driven films where sound is crucially important, but where editing also brings those rhythms into the storytelling. Those include “Chicago” (2002), “Whiplash” (2014) and “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018). That leaves just one outlier this century thus far: “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) won sound mixing and editing awards, but while it wasn’t an action movie and its story wasn’t about music, the film’s musicality was a big part of its appeal (its score and original song “Jai Ho” also won Oscars), so you could argue that it belongs in this latter category.

According to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users as of this writing, “Sound of Metal” is the front-runner for both Best Film Editing and Best Sound. The sound award seems like the safer bet since the film about a heavy metal drummer who loses his hearing uses its sound design as a central element of the story, conveying the disconcerting experience of sudden deafness. But it has been putting pressure on “The Trial of the Chicago 7” for Best Film Editing too. The two films tied for that prize at the Critics Choice Awards, and both are nominated at the ACE Eddie Awards.

What might give “Sound of Metal” the crucial advantage in Film Editing, though, is that “Chicago 7” isn’t nominated for Best Sound. Every editing winner in the last 13 years has at least been nominated for a sound award. The last editing winner without a corresponding sound bid was “The Departed” (2006). This year “Sound of Metal” is the only film nominated in both categories, which may be a decisive advantage.

Oscars Best Film Editing predictions widget

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