Damien Chazelle’s “First Man” recreates laconic Neil Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) journey to the historic moon landing in 1969, from teeth-rattling and dangerous supersonic test flights and documentary-like Houston home life to rocket blasts into space. “La La Land” carryovers — supervising sound editors Mildred Iatrou and Ai-Ling Lee — achieve a tactile, visceral impact, along with an otherworldliness.
“A Quiet Place” offers a unique soundscape that drives the propulsive narrative. Indeed, filmmaker and star John Krasinski’s horror hit is all about sound and makes brilliant use of silence as a storytelling device. Make a loud noise and the creatures will pounce and kill you. So it’s not surprising that much of the movie’s success is wrapped around the brilliant sound design.
Krasinski recommended that supervising sound editors Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn (“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”) create sonic points of view — or “envelopes” — for each member of the Abbott family as well as for the creatures, which are blind yet communicate through clicking sounds and navigate with bio sonar similar to dolphins and bats. Different and often annoying levels of feedback became an important part of the sonic signature. The sound team created sounds of trees, wind, and rustling clothes. The creatures have different sonic predatory modes (searching, idling, attack, and pain): as they get agitated, the intensity of their vocals get amped up.
With “Roma,” Alfonso Cuarón’s black-and-white childhood remembrance of things past set in early 1970s Mexico City, the challenge for sound editor Sergio Diaz was to recreate every sound in its own geographical environment while, at the same time, removing the city’s modern cacophony.
The interior sounds included the metallic stairs, the light switches, and the grinding of the wood floors in each room. “For the exteriors, there was the sound of the birds at sunrise, the cars driving by Tepeji street at a moderate speed, the distant cars in the avenues, the sound of the propeller and turbine planes,” he said.
The contenders are ranked by their likelihood of winning:
“A Quiet Place”