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Mar 12

Oscars 2012 Recap: The Audio Side

Nothing teaches you the value of sound like a silent movie.

Now that we’ve already discussed the Oscar winning aesthetics in film, let’s talk about the audio winners of this year. That is, the movies with stellar sound design, scores, and soundtracks that will stun your top rated speakers.

The Artist wins Best Original Score:

The Artist and Hugo triumphed at the 2012 Oscars, so it’s no surprise that they topped sound categories, too. The Artist won for score, and rightfully so, since the movie had no dialogue and sound, the score carried the movie and mood.

The Artist‘s win wasn’t without controversy, however. Some of the score was directly taken from Bernard Herrmann’s score in Hitchcock’s film Vertigo.

Kim Novak, star of Vertigo, wrote a letter to film trade magazine, Variety that said, “The Artist took the love theme score from Vertigo and used the emotions it engenders as its own. Alfred Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart can’t speak for themselves, but I can. It was our work that unconsciously or consciously evoked the memories and feelings to the audience that were used for the climax of The Artist.”

Was The Artist score stolen from Vertigo?

Director Michel Hazanavicius responded to Novak’s attack by saying that he meant to use Bernard Herrmann’s score. He said, “The Artist was made as a love letter to cinema and grew out of my (and all of my cast and crew’s) admiration and respect for movies throughout history.”

Is it respectful to use a love theme from another movie to convey love in your own movie and then win for “Best ORIGINAL score”? The Artist lists all the composers in its credits, so it had permission to use Herrmann’s score and is fully protected in copyright cases.

To decide, perhaps you should compare the score from The Artist and Vertigo on a set of top rated speakers yourself, then let us know if you side with Novak or Hazanavicius? Is it a tribute or plagiarism?

 ”Man or Muppet” wins Best Original Song:

On a lighter note (pun intended), the winner for best original song came from the kid-friendly, but adult-happy comedy, The Muppets. Entitled “Man or Muppet,” the winning song gives Hamlet’s “To Be or Not Be” monologue a run for its money with humorously existential lyrics like “Am I a man or am I a muppet? If I’m a muppet then I’m a very manly muppet. If I’m a man that makes me a muppet of a man.”

Hugo Wins For Sound Editing and Sound Mixing

The 3D hit Hugo dominated sound and visuals across the board and won for

Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing.

What’s the difference?

Sound editing concerns itself more with technical sound design (sound effects), while sound mixing is the process of taking dialogue, voiceover, music, and sound design and working all elements together.

Sound design involves what you don’t hear (i.e. discrepancies, humming, room tone, smooth transitions) while sound mixing involves what you DO noticeably hear on top rated speakers.

Every year the Oscars make us think of different things: this year the importance of sound, Angelina’s leg, and The Artist seemed to strike the people’s fancies. Tell us your favorite movie soundtrack, song, or Oscar moment!

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