As we’ve done in years past, we’re celebrating the upcoming 93rd Academy Awards with a series of 2021 Oscar Predictions that may help you win your Oscar pool. In this entry, we’re putting on our headphones and listening for inspiration in the Sound and Song categories…
Best Original Score
Ten years ago, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross won an Oscar for their work on The Social Network, and now they’re back in the same category with dueling nominations. It’s hard to imagine any of the other nominees taking home the statue this year, even though they present stiff competition, especially Emile Mosseri (Minari) and James Newton Howard (News of the World).
Reznor and Ross’s work on Mank is glued to the past, attempting to coexist alongside Bernard Herrmann’s genius. If you’re looking to revel in nostalgia, their Mank satisfies deeply. However, it’s their work in collaboration with jazz musician Jon Batiste on Soul that strikes the hardest. The score is at once familiar and invigorating. Even better, it’s the type of score you would play independent of the film. It’s essential for the narrative’s success, but it holds its own narrative as well. It’s a mood and one you want to swim within. (Brad Gullickson)
What Should Win: Soul
What Will Win: Soul
Best Original Song
Leslie Odom Jr. and Sam Ashworth’s “Speak Now,” from One Night in Miami, is the frontrunner in this race. It’s a lovely song — beautiful, melodic, and uplifting. But the story here really comes down to Odom Jr. He’s an astonishing talent who has excelled on stage and screen. He’s also an incredibly likable presence and so easy to root for. Voters will surely be charmed by him and will happily make him an Oscar winner. It’s a win that would also put him an Emmy away from an EGOT after his Tony and Grammy wins for Hamilton.
However, this category has seen upsets before. At the 88th awards, Lady Gaga brought the house down with her raw performance of “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground. And then lost to Sam Smith for his Spectre theme. While I don’t expect there will be an upset of this magnitude this year, it’s of course not impossible that perhaps “Husavik” from Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga could surprise us all. But still, my money’s on “Speak Now.” (Anna Swanson)
What Should Win: “Speak Now,” One Night in Miami…
What Will Win: “Speak Now,” One Night in Miami…
Before this year’s ceremony, Best Sound was split into two categories: Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Combining the two into one makes for a theoretically speedier television program and a less complicated prediction process. A win this year allows for a potential six Oscars to be distributed amongst the film’s sound mixer, the supervising sound editors, and the re-recording mixers. But just in case you’re still curious about the two fields operating within the category, the sound mixer is in charge of the film’s overall sound and score, while the sound editor cobbles together the onset dialogue, the ADR, the effects, the foley work, etc.
Sound of Metal is not only the frontrunner this year; it’s the only movie that makes the category its mission. After Riz Ahmed’s central protagonist has a sudden hearing loss, his emotional experience is detailed through what he does and does not hear. The sound design represents multiple universes for the character to navigate, making the tiniest murmurs an ocean for him to sail upon. The sound work involved zeroes the audience’s focus, pulling you into the emotional narrative deftly curated by Riz Ahmed. (Brad Gullickson)
What Should Win: Sound of Metal
What Will Win: Sound of Metal
To read our breakdowns and analysis of every one of this year’s categories, follow the links below: