Oscars 2023: Best Sound Predictions

7 March 2023

We will update all our Oscar predictions throughout the season, so keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Oscar race. The nomination round of voting will take place from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with the official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is between March 2 and 7, 2023. Finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our initial thoughts for what to expect at the 95th Academy Awards here.

The State of the Race

Oscar front-runner “Top Gun: Maverick” solidified its lead by beating rivals “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Avatar: The Way of Water,” “Elvis,” and  “The Batman” at the 59th CAS Awards (March 4 at the InterContinental Los Angeles Downtown). This followed the film’s Feature Effects-Foley win February 26 at the 70th MPSE Golden Reel Awards (at the Wilshire Ebell Theater), where “Elvis” and “All Quiet” also notched Music Editing and Foreign Language awards.

Still, it’s not a lock for “Maverick” after the dominating performance of “All Quiet” at the BAFTAs — where it won seven awards, including sound. Edward Berger’s anti-war epic (the favorite to win Best Foreign Language Feature) could be a crafts juggernaut and snatch sound away from “Maverick” with its immersive and harrowing World War I battlefield soundscape.

However, the hyper-real soundscape inside the cockpits of “Maverick” was part of the thrilling spectacle that brought audiences back to theaters last year. It worked brilliantly in tandem with the innovative camera work built around the Sony Rialto Camera Extension System. With a collective résumé covering past Tom Cruise vehicles, including the two most recent “Mission Impossible” films and “Edge of Tomorrow,” the sound team of Mark Weingarten (production sound mixer), James H. Mather (sound designer/supervising sound editor), Al Nelson (sound designer/supervising sound editor), Chris Burdon (re-recording mixer), and Mark Taylor (re-recording mixer) created a “synaptic” experience, emphasizing breathing and the manipulation of the control stick, while strategically layering in the jet noises, including the sound of air whooshing over the wings and the sonic reflection of the aerobatics.

The “All Quiet” team of supervising sound editors Markus Stemler and Frank Kruse, sound editor Viktor Prášil, and re-recording mixers Lars Ginzel and Stefan Korte emphasized the soldiers’ sonic relationship with war, giving various agents of death nicknames (the machine gun was a sewing machine). This was utilized to great effect in the scene where the whir of the sewing machine segues into a burst of gunfire. Silence was also important, and the variations of human breath or the smallest of gasps were as effective as the crash of bombs.

With the delirious “Elvis,” Baz Luhrmann’s go-to sound guru, Wayne Pashley (sound designer/supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer) embarked on a great American operatic tragedy distinguishing the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. Pashley and his team of sound mixer David Lee, Oscar-winning re-recording mixer Andy Nelson (also nominated for “The Batman” this year), and re-recording mixer Michael Keller created a complex weave of music and sound effects as the main driving force of the sound design. With a combination of playback and live recording, fully restored vintage microphones from each era were used to capture the performance pieces and seamlessly integrate new Austin Butler recordings with original Elvis Presley vocals.

“The Batman” is a re-imagined noir set in a grungy, corrupted Gotham. The team of William Files (supervising sound editor), Douglas Murray (supervising sound editor), “Elvis” nominee Nelson (re-recording mixer), and Stuart Wilson (sound mixer) focused a lot of attention on the individual sounds of Gotham and contrasted Robert Pattinson’s soft-spoken yet physically imposing Batman and his costume versus the distorted sound of Paul Dano’s Riddler. However, the Batmobile chase in the rain with Colin Farrell’s over-the-top Oz/Penguin was a great opportunity to exploit the sounds of the muscle car and the elements.

James Cameron’s “The Way of Water” created complex jungle and water soundscapes led by four-time Oscar-winning supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Christopher Boyes, supervising sound editor Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, sound mixer Julian Howarth, re-recording mixer Gary Summers, and sound engineer Michael Hedges. In addition, Howarth developed a system where they surrounded the stage with speakers and did on-the-spot sound design during the performance capture sessions set in the forest or by the sea.

Below are the nominees ranked in order of likelihood of winning:

“Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount)
“All Quiet on the Western Front” (Netflix)
“Elvis” (Warner Bros.)
“The Batman” (Warner Bros.)
“Avatar: The Way of Water” (20th Century/Disney)

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