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2012 Cinema Audio Society Nominations

January 19, 2012 1 comment

I’m not gonna lie. I always get truly psyched about this particular guild every year. It’s not that I have extensive experience in the field of sound mixing, nor have a particular penchant for the medium (though I certainly enjoy a great 5.1 mix on my home theater system as much as the next person). I suppose I get enthralled by the CAS just because of the massive wrench that they usually throw into the works.

This is no ordinary wrench, though. The CAS often has a tendency to name some completely unexpected sound mixes, ones that were once considered done and out of the race. A person might be immediately inclined to dismiss these nominees and say to themselves, “There’s no way the Academy will go this route.” Yet, that’s the crazy thing about the CAS is that they aren’t just a small part of the race, they really do define it. In the last ten years, the CAS has correctly forecasted at least 4/5 Oscar nominees six times. The other four years, they were 3/5. In the Society’s eighteen year existence, only once has their lineup been as low as a 2/5 matchup, and never less than that. Not a bad record.

The nominees for this year’s Cinema Audio Society are as follows:

“Hanna”

“Hugo”

“Moneyball”

“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

“Super 8”

When it comes to these nominees, I just have to stop and observe a moment of unadulterated joy for the recognition paid to the sound crew of “Hanna.” In my mind, this is, and has been from 2011’s outset, one of the year’s most intricate and powerful works of audio. After viewing it again on blu ray, my opinion has not changed. Listening to this sound mix on a 5.1 system is like having God in your living room. Fabulous work that, even if it does not go beyond this point, is worthy of it’s moment of glory.

Among the rest of the nominees, the second biggest surprise was the inclusion of “Moneyball.” This might be the most easy to dismiss pick of the bunch, but there’s a lot going on in that mix. Plus, Sorkin dialogue does take a lot of post-production audio to make it work. I can’t say I’m too thrilled to see the fourth “Pirates” movie show up here. I mean, come on. Do we really need to keep awarding this franchise for beating itself to death and taking the audience down with it? And speaking of a film beating itself to death, one such flick that wholly deserved a nomination here and failed was “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.” The film itself is nothing to be proud of, but every two years, this franchise astounds us with it’s insanely detailed aural accomplishments and it should have taken the “Pirates” slot.

It’s nice to see “Super 8” pick up some steam, here. I was close to considering it down and out after it got eliminated from the Visual Effects finalists. Yet, there’s some great work happening amongst all that alien ruckus that Oscar should consider. And finally there’s “Hugo,” the one name here that I don’t think anyone was surprised to see. Don’t be shocked if it goes on to pocket the award for both this and the perennial honors in February.

In closing, I leave you with this clip from the film, “Hanna.” While it’s impossible to truly appreciate the sound mix without a high quality, multi-channel playback, this scene, alone deserves all the credit in the world. My advisement: rent or buy this movie on blu ray as soon as possible, and go ahead and buy a home theater system just to watch it on.

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“Drive” Red Band Trailer

One of the big surprises at this year’s Cannes Film Festival was the award for Best Director going to the young Nicolas Winding Refn for his new film “Drive.” This is not because Refn is unqualified, for he certainly proved his worth directing Tom Hardy in the psychedelic mind-trip “Bronson,” which more than probably got the actor his role as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Nor is it because of the film’s high profile cast that includes the brilliant and all-powerful Ryan Gosling, as well as other Oscar nominees Carey Mulligan and Albert Brooks.

What made it seem surprising is the nature of the film, itself. IMDB’s synopsis reads: “A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.” The plot seems more like a vehicle for a Jason Statham spinoff than a prestigious Cannes winner.

However, after certain select clips were released on Youtube, as well as few early reviews (or “rave” reviews, is more like it), it appears that this film might have more to offer than meets the eye. One scene in particular that I viewed absolutely floored me as a critic. Now, with the debut of this red band trailer, I’m starting to get the feeling that this could end up being one of the best movies of the year and perhaps one of the greatest straight-up action films in recent cinema.

Check out the trailer below:

I’ve also included the clip that first grabbed my attention. It’s easy to see here how the material, if read off of the script, could have been completely generalized and fumbled by a lesser director. Instead, Refn molds the action into a form of gripping entertainment of the likes I’ve never seen before. Enjoy: