Ahead of the 2021 Oscars, the academy combined their Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing categories into one. The films vying for the third annual Best Sound prize are “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “The Batman,” “Elvis,” and “Top Gun: Maverick.” Our current odds indicate that “Top Gun: Maverick” (16/5) will be victorious, followed in order of likelihood by “All Quiet on the Western Front” (19/5), “Avatar: The Way of Water” (9/2), “Elvis” (9/2), and “The Batman” (9/2).
The 23 craftspeople included in the current lineup have collectively amassed a whopping 72 previous nominations and 16 wins for their sound work. The one responsible for the largest chunk is Andy Nelson, whose dual bids for “The Batman” and “Elvis” bring him to a record-fortifying career total of 24. He is now the third person to receive two nominations at once in this consolidated category, after “Mank” and “Soul” sound engineers Ren Klyce and David Parker in 2021.
Nelson has two past sound victories to his name for “Saving Private Ryan” (1999) and “Les Misérables” (2013). He shared the first with Gary Summers, whose current nomination for “Avatar: The Way of Water” is his 12th overall. Summers, who was previously recognized (alongside Nelson) for his work on the original “Avatar” in 2010, has also won for “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1992), “Jurassic Park” (1994), and “Titanic” (1998). Also on the “Avatar” sequel team is 14-time nominee Christopher Boyes and five-time contender Michael Hedges, both of whom won for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2004) and “King Kong” (2006). Boyes also succeeded on his bids for “Titanic” and “Pearl Harbor” (2002).
The four current sound nominees who have each achieved one previous victory are Stuart Wilson (“The Batman”; “1917,” 2020), David Lee (“Elvis”; “The Matrix,” 2000), Mark Taylor (“Top Gun: Maverick”; “1917”), and Mark Weingarten (“Top Gun: Maverick”; “Dunkirk,” 2018). The three returning contenders with no wins yet are Gwendolyn Yates Whittle (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and “Top Gun: Maverick” pair Chris Burdon and James Mather.
Including those previously mentioned, there have been 11 past instances of two or more 2023 sound contenders being nominated as members of the same team. These remaining half dozen cases involved Boyes and Hedges (“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” 2003 and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” 2014), Boyes and Whittle (“Avatar”), Nelson and Wilson (“War Horse,” 2012 and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” 2016), and Burdon and Taylor (“Captain Phillips,” 2014).
The newcomers in this year’s lineup include five from “All Quiet on the Western Front” (Lars Ginzel, Stefan Korte, Frank Kruse, Viktor Prasil, and Markus Stemler), two each from “Avatar: The Way of Water” (Dick Bernstein and Julian Howath), “The Batman” (Will Files and Douglas Murray), and “Elvis” (Michael Keller and Wayne Pashley), and one from “Top Gun: Maverick” (Al Nelson).
The first two Best Sound awards went to “Sound of Metal” (2021) and “Dune” (2022). The last films to win Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing prior to the merging of the categories were “Ford v. Ferrari” and “1917,” respectively. This year’s Best Sound winner will be revealed during the 95th Academy Awards ceremony, airing March 12 on ABC.
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