Year in and year out this is the category I most dread having to try to sound intelligent about when, in truth, I have no idea what I’m talking about. For one thing, half of the 2013 movies I’ve seen have been at home, where I’m hearing audio through the crappy little speakers on my TV, and even if I saw a film in theaters there’s a good chance that the sound mix was the last thing I was paying attention to. Let’s just get this over with.
- The Conjuring: The modern trend in horror movies is to make films about invisible ghosts that screw with people by dropping objects and making things go bump. This one is no exception and features all kinds of loud noises coming out of nowhere in the middle of what appear to be quiet scenes. .
- Gravity: In space, no one can hear a satellite dish get torn apart by a debris field. In making Gravity Alfonso Cuaron decided to stick to his guns and avoid depicting sound in space, but amazingly he was still able to give his film an exciting and dynamic sound mix. Operating on the principle that the astronauts do hear the vibrations that occur when they touch objects, the they were able to get some exciting audio.
- Man of Steel: One movie always gets into this category simply for being transcendently noisy, and this one fits the bill this year. This large scale room shaking sound mix manages to capture every pow and thud that Zack Snyder throws in and the many, many, many, explosions are rendered well by the sound effects department.
- Rush: Cars be going “vroom” y’all! In making the film Rush the sound team needed to capture the sound team needed to capture the loud and specific sound of 1970s Formula One race tracks. I think they did that.
- Spring Breakers: Spring Breakers does really have the kind of technically proficient blockbustery sound mixes that usually get nominated in categories like this, but it does some experimental things that I noticed and thought about pointing out. At times the audio doesn’t match what’s on screen, lines from earlier or later in the film will be edited in out of context, scenes will shift while audio continues. Lots of strange things like that which maintain the film’s surreal woozy tone.