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Sound Editing

The analysis

The sound editing category, which evolved out of the sound effects and sound effects editing category, is big on fantasy and animation this year.

Randy Thom of Skywalker Sound has become a big force in animation sound design, a task he performed on “The Incredibles” and “The Polar Express.”

For “Incredibles,” Thom often had to design sounds based on the barest of visual cues from director Brad Bird. Fortunately, Bird was better at describing the sounds and the result mixed perfectly with the visuals. Supervising sound editor Michael Silvers worked on the only two previous animated films to make the sound editing bakeoff, “Finding Nemo” and “Monsters, Inc.,” giving “Incredibles” a slight edge.

Thom worked with Dennis Leonard on “Polar Express,” a film that depended heavily on the sound of the train. The scene where the train first appears was a crucial one, which the duo pulled off without music to back up the engine’s sound.

A similar simplicity was used by Paul Ottosson on “Spider-Man 2.” Ottosson came to the project not having worked on the original and focused on finding suitable sounds for Doc Ock. That made him a better villain, lending to the overall increase in quality seen in the sequel.

The Incredibles

Michael Silvers and Randy Thom

Current kudos: Motion Picture Sound Editors (nom)

Oscar pedigree: Silvers, two noms; Thom, three sound editing noms

Why it’ll win: Sound was crucial in making the family life and superhero adventure into a seamless whole.

Why it won’t: Animation has never won in this category.

The Polar Express

Randy Thom and Dennis Leonard

Current kudos: Motion Picture Sound Editors (nom)

Oscar pedigree: Thom, three sound editing noms

Why it’ll win: The train sounded great and the quiet moments worked well in creating a sense of wonder and fantasy.

Why it won’t: Again, it’s animated and the voters tend to prefer the loud to films that have quieter work such as this one.

Spider-Man 2

Paul N. J. Ottosson

Current kudos: BAFTA (nom), Motion Picture Sound Editors (nom)

Oscar pedigree: None

Why it’ll win: Film has everything sound voters love: convincing effects, loud battles and a strong focus.

Why it won’t: It’s a sequel and voters may not see this as original compared to the other noms.

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