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The Cinema Audio Society has made some interesting calls over the years. "True Grit" last season, in the face of blockbuster and eventual Oscar winner "Inception." "No Country for Old Men" in 2007 rather than the skillfully layered "Transformers" (and, again, eventual Oscar winner "The Bourne Ultimatum"). "Road to Perdition" over musical heavyweight "Chicago" and feast for the ears "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers."
I applaud that. Very much. And indeed, when you look over their history, they often eschew the big, "loud" stuff that tends to have an easier time at the Oscars. In addition to the above-mentioned "Inception" and "The Two Towers," they ignored all the "Spider-Man" films, all the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films, "King Kong," "The Dark Knight," etc., etc. Well, tonight they did something they have done a few times in the past -- they went with a serious Best Picture contender that doesn't really have showcase sound qualities. They went with "Hugo."
In the past the CAS has awarded films like "Forrest Gump," "The English Patient," "The Aviator," "Dreamgirls," the above-mentioned "No Country for Old Men" and "Slumdog Millionaire" when there were more deserving entries in the field, and I think that's the case this year. I'd have gone with "Hanna" or "Moneyball," the two surprise nominees of the bunch, before Martin Scorsese's big opus, personally.
The question now is whether "Hugo" is indeed the one to watch for Oscar. Most think so. But I don't quite get it. "War Horse" was not among the CAS nominees, which is a knock against its Oscar chances. Ditto "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," probably the best sound job of the year.
I've been leaning on "War Horse" to take both sound categories since the nominations were announced, but I'm starting to lean toward a split. My rule of thumb generally is pick one film for both, as far as hedging on predictions is concerned, but perhaps "Hugo" wins sound mixing and "War Horse" takes sound editing? There are some who think the big phase two push on behalf of "Transformers" could land it one of the prizes, but I still think that's doubtful.
Anyway, we still have a week before we need to settle on final calls. I intend to take all of it making up my mind.
Remember to keep track of all the ups and downs of the 2011-2012 film awards season via The Circuit.
For year-round entertainment news and awards season commentary follow @kristapley on Twitter.
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