(The Oscar Guide will be your chaperone through the Academy's 24 categories awarding excellence in film. A new installment will hit every weekday in the run-up to the Oscars on February 26, with the Best Picture finale on Saturday, February 25.)
This year, the sound category nominations were the ones I found hardest to predict -- I went a paltry 1-for-5 in the Best Sound Mixing category -- and even with the field narrowed to five, I'm not finding the picture any clearer. Part of the reason for that is the unusual disparity between the Academy's picks and those of the Cinema Audio Society. For the first time since 1999, they agreed on only two nominees, both Best Picture contenders that aren't brash sonic showcases: "Hugo" and "Moneyball."
For the other slots, the Academy's sound branch set about rectifying some of the more surprising CAS omissions: the guild did well to recognize the sleekly pulsating "Hanna," but the Academy stuck with more typically large-scale fare for the category in the shape of "War Horse" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The final field is an eminently mainstream one, but pleasingly balanced between bombast and subtler notes.
The nominees are...