Imma’ be honest here, when it comes to sound design I really don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t know why I got it into my head that this is a category that I should be giving an award for every year but it’s a tradition now and I’m not going to stop it… just maybe take this with a grain of salt.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier: I don’t know that this necessarily has the best sound work of the year but it certainly has the most sound work. This was a transcendently loud movie this multiple fight scenes and a giant battle at the end with multiple room shaking explosions. The sound team keeps every blow and every clank of the titular captain’s shield sounds really strong and the track never devolves into complete chaos.
- Godzilla: Obviously the people working on the sound design for Godzilla needed to create some very important creature sound effects. They needed to modernize Godzilla’s famous roar but they also needed to create new sounds to associate with the new MUTOs. Beyond that they also still needed to populate a large scale disaster film with all sorts of big room shaking effects.
- Stranger by the Lake: This category is generally dominated by big noisy action movies but I usually try to find other more distinct ways that sound design can alter a film. In this case I’m showing the spotlight on this French movie that’s primarily set at a beach/cruising spot. The film is entirely set outdoors and away from much activity and there’s not really a score, so the film builds a certain mood by remaining very quiet and using the sound of birds and the water moving to fill out the soundtrack.
- Unbroken: This nomination has less to do with the film as a whole than it does with one scene that particularly impressed me. There’s a World War II air battle scene early in the film which really makes great use of surround sound to really put you in the middle of the air combat scenes. The machine gun barrages are really impactful and so is the moment later on when an airplane crashes into the ocean.
- Whiplash: Few movies are as dependent on good sound design as movies about music, especially ones that are meant to depict music being played live. I could be mistaken but I highly doubt that much of the music here is being recorded live, so the sound team must have been tasked with carefully making sure that each note in the final mix matched the playing on screen and with also making the whole thing just sound really good for the audience. Most importantly they had to find ways to naturalistically keep the drums front and center rather than allow the horns and piano dominate the tracks.