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Oscars 2022: Best Sound Predictions

"Dune" sounds off against "A Quiet Place Part II" and several action-adventures and musicals. Constantly updated.

DUNE, Jason Momoa, 2020. © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection


©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

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It’s a very competitive sound race, with frontrunner “Dune” being challenged from all sides by sci-fi (“The Matrix Resurrections”), horror (“A Quiet Place II,” “One Night in Soho,” “Candyman”), superheroes (“Eternals,” “Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” “Black Widow,” “The Suicide Squad”), spies (“No Time to Die,” “The King’s Man”), musicals (“West Side Story,” “Cyrano,” “Tick Tick Boom,” “In the Heights,” “Annette,” “Encanto”), westerns (“The Power of the Dog,” “The Harder They Fall”), and film noir (“Nightmare Alley”).

However, the sonic power and complexity of Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune” (Warner Bros.) is going to be hard to beat. Its great achievement is creating a grounded reality that is both innovative and believable. So, rather than relying on over-hyped sounds, supervising sound editors Mark Mangini (the Oscar-winning “Mad Max: Fury Road”) and Theo Green (the Oscar-nominated “Blade Runner 2049”) conveyed an otherworldly palette that is hallucinatory yet gritty, from supernatural voices that rattle the mind to colossal sandworms that shake the sand dunes of Arrakis. Other highlights include the dragonfly-like ornithopters, whole-body shields that can protect from anything but a slow blade, sand thumpers that boom across the desert like a resonant body to attract the sandworms, and the spice that fuels the universe, glittering and twinkling in the sands.

Regan (Millicent Simmonds) braves the unknown in "A Quiet Place Part II."

“A Quiet Place Part II”

Photo Credit: Jonny Cournoyer

For “A Quiet Place Part II” (Paramount) Oscar-nominated supervising sound editors Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn expanded the alien creature sound design and created a larger vocabulary for John Krasinski’s horror sequel, in which the soundscape acts like a motor propelling the journey forward for the surviving Abbott family. The 10-minute opening prologue is a sonic tour de force, alternating loud, scary, and silent moments without music. The flashback reveals how the aliens arrived, created chaos, and destroyed the notion of small town normality before the destructive events of the first film.

Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog” (Netflix), the psychological western about toxic masculinity involving brothers Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch), George (Jesse Plemons), and George’s stepson, Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee), explores a visceral soundscape around the natural world. The sound team (overseen by supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Robert MacKenzie and sound designer Dave Whitehead) emphasize ordinary details for dramatic effect, like the pounding hooves of a cattle drive, the stirring wind, the slap of a horse’s flank, and the hum of a stream. But more terrifying is the use of Phil’s banjo as a mocking weapon of intimidation.

"No Time to Die"

“No Time to Die”

United Artists Releasing

“No Time to Die” (UA Releasing) is the first Bond film to be mixed in Atmos, and director Cary Joji Fukunaga wanted sound editors Oliver Tarney and James Harrison to utilize the larger soundscape for Daniel Craig’s swan song. The Aston Martin DB5 opener in Matera is a great example. It begins with ominous tolling bells panning overhead before the relative stillness is interrupted by the arrival of the baddies. Even this seems muted from within the cocoon of the DB5. A salvo of high velocity rounds then thuds and cracks against the metal and glass of the car from every angle. They wanted this barrage to feel like a brutal 360° assault for the viewer. For the climax in the underground lair, Bond experiences dissonant alert tones and detached Russian dialogue washing out over the PA system, followed by the disconcerting loss of radio communication as he enters the concrete structure, and then the high-octane gunfire of the first-person action sequence on the stairwell.

Jeymes Samuel’s bravura Black western, “The Harder They Fall” (Netflix), pitting rival outlaw gangs against each other — Nat Love (Jonathan Majors) vs. Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) — contains an offbeat soundscape from multiple Oscar-winning sound editor Richard King (“Dunkirk,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”). King went for maximum dynamics and punch with lots of detail. Samuel wanted the sound to snap and told them to embrace their crazy side. They appropriately added extra musicality, such as dub-inspired spring reverb on a gunshot. The track is rich with the sounds of birds and animals, and gusts of wind are carefully placed. The centerpiece, though, is the climactic small town battle in which they endeavored to make every sound specific to the moment and to pop in some way to accentuate the action.

"Last Night in Soho"

“Last Night in Soho”

Focus Features

Edgar Wright’s “Last Night in Soho” (Focus Features), which finds aspiring fashion designer Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie) transported back in time to ’60s Soho with horrifying results, became an “analog” homage overseen by Oscar-nominated supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Julian Slater (“Baby Driver”). Which means his team bypassed modern sound design techniques in favor of methods from past years of horror sound tracks. As a result, they mixed the first 23 minutes in three-track, mono-like quality until Ellie travels back in time to the ’60s. The sonic landscape then completely opens up and becomes an immersive, dreamlike experience through a combination of vocal reverbs, filtered effects on applause in clubs, and soft focus treatments of everyday sounds. As Ellie’s dreams become stranger, they took inspiration from experimental records of the era and cranked up the sound design with the weirdest moments dissolving into an LSD-like trip.

Listed in alphabetical order. No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.

“A Quiet Place Part II”
“Last Night in Soho”
“No Time to Die”

“In the Heights”
“Licorice Pizza”
“Nightmare Alley”
“Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings”
“Spider-Man: No Way Home”
“The Harder They Fall”
“The Matrix Resurrections”
“The Power of the Dog”
“The Suicide Squad”
“The Tragedy of Macbeth”
“Tick Tick Boom”
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage”
“West Side Story”

Long Shots
“Black Widow”
“The Last Duel”

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