Best Production Design is not necessarily the easiest Oscar category to predict in any given year, but there are clear signposts that make a film’s production design “Oscar worthy.” Period settings. Visually-striking set dressing. Something lavish, or else something historical.
What is often the operative question with the two sound categories is whether or not they will go to the same film. More often than not, if a film stands out for either editing or mixing, it also stands out in the other.
This year, I think there is a case to be made for both the split and the sweep.
The Nominees – Best Sound Editing:
I may not have been as high on the film as the general film-lover audience, but Annihilation deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects. Or at least sound editing, for that bear-monster foley…
Instead we have Ready Player One getting a nomination for Most CGI Effects.
There is always some overlap between the two sound categories. Sound Editing is the creation of foley. Sound Mixing is the recording and mixing of the soundtrack. They are two distinct aspects of sound production, but often if a film does one well it does the other similarly well.
That said, a well-mixed film may not require a lot of sound effect production. A musical, perhaps. A film may require a heavy amount of foley, which usually means the mix is harder to master. An action movie, perhaps. A lot goes into the soundtrack, making it hard sometimes to discern whether the Academy will honor films in both categories, one, or none.
The Nominees – Best Sound Editing:
Generally, the Best Screenplay categories are filled with Best Picture hopefuls and, when there is room, one or two “honorable mention” choices. These are films that don’t necessarily get the love they might deserve in other categories, but the WGA and the Academy want to honor their merits in some way.
In the Original Screenplay category, this is something like The Big Sick or 20th Century Women. Both are great films that could have competed in other categories, but for one reason or another didn’t quite make the cut. For whatever reason, the screenwriting branch seems to be more forgiving of these clever little films.
Note: Annihilation is no longer eligible for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. For some reason, it did not make the cut on the 2019 shortlist, in spite of it undoubtedly being the best visuals of any film on the below list. Alex Garland’s Ex Machina won this award for doing much less ambitious visual work. It doesn’t quite make sense.
Anyway, Best Visual Effects:
The arduous task of movie list-making has never been my forte. I am too prone to adjusting my opinions and tweaking grades up or down a half-letter grade. Most years, I shuffle my list around until a breaking point is reached and I publish impulsively.
This year is no different. With almost 200 films from 2018 in my head, it is difficult to narrow it down to 25. It is harder to take those 25 and rank them in any meaningful way. Each film in my top five could be number one. There are films in my top 50 that could have moved into the top 25 (for now, Avengers: Infinity War is at the 50-spot, and that was an enjoyable film which I saw twice in the theater). It pains me a little to not be able to give a blurb to Sorry to Bother You, which narrowly missed the top 25.
Long story short, 2018 was a very good year in film. I may not have seen a standout, A+ film. But I witnessed many, many A-/B+ films.
The following 25 films are, as of this writing, my favorite of the year. But there are many other noteworthy films out there. You can see my full ranking of 2018 films (subject to continual change) at Letterboxd.
Honorable Mentions: Sorry to Bother You, Shirkers, Roma, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Won’t You Be My Neighbor Continue reading Top 25 Best Movies of 2018