The Oscar Project
This is a clear winner to me and it was so with The Academy as well. Based on the idea that Sound Editing is intended to focus on the overall sound effects, dialog, etc. of the film, I think Dunkirk does this better than any of the other films in the category.
We've seen plenty of war films before and there are always some standard types of sound we hear in these films, but I felt that Dunkirk took this to a somewhat new level with the various types of effects. From small boats crossing the channel to large naval ships and aerial battles, there were plenty of different sounds that needed to be included in this film, giving it an edge over the opposition.
2. The Shape of Water
Where The Shape of Water lacks in dialog (with a mute main character, it makes up for in underwater sound effects. As with my notes on the visual effects and cinematography, there is a special level of technical difficulty in creating realistic sounds from that appear to come from under water.
On top of the fact that some sounds need to come from the water, there is also the creation of the sounds of the fish man himself. There is no such creature (that we know of) so being able to create brand new sounds allows this film to level up a bit.
3. Blade Runner 2049
Here is where things start to fall off for me. Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel and while I'm not sure they reused any of the sound effects from the original film, the creators here did such a good job of capturing not just the visual appeal of the first film, but the auditory feel as well that it's hard to call this original.
There are new elements here and they are seamlessly blended into the overall soundscape, but I don't feel like this rises to the same level as some of the other films in the category. It also does not stand out as much in the sound categories as it does in terms of visual effects and cinematography where it clearly outshines the competition.
4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
As with Blade Runner, Star Wars is another sequel that delivers more of the same. While the Star Wars nerd in me would love to see a film like this take home more awards, I can understand the need for more originality in this category.
We have seen and heard most of the fantastic elements of a Star Wars film before and this film is no exception. There are some new ships, a new version of the lightsaber battle, and new creatures, but nothing ground breaking enough to win the category.
Plus, there's no Ben Burtt.
5. Baby Driver
I'll give you a sneak preview of my post for Best Sound Mixing which should be going up later this week. I don't agree with The Academy's selection (Dunkirk) and while the nominees are identical to this list, the order will be drastically different.
But sticking with Sound Editing for this post, I think Baby Driver struggles with the same problem as Star Wars. We've seen the car chase film before with lots of guns, crashes, and the like. While the story might be one we haven't really seen before, the sounds are all familiar to us in a film like this.
I'm just a film buff who wants to watch great movies. Where else to find the best, than the list of those nominated by the Academy each year?