Having covered the most astounding visuals from the first half of 2014 let's move on to Sound. This is when I suddenly become shy, mutable, and tongue-tied as a critic. You may read this post at any decibel level but please know that I'm whispering it. A truth: sound is the aspect of filmmaking for which I feel least qualified to judge. I try to absorb what's happening in underscoring and with the mix and editing. I'm definitely more attuned that I once was. But the fact remains that my ears are neither as well trained nor as aggressive in consumption as my eyes. I love to hear other people talk sound and scoring (I recommend the book The Conversations by Walter Murch which is on film editing but it touches on sound as well) so please do share your favorites in the comments. I'll probably learn something if you do. At the very least I'll have more to consider.
If I had to vote right now...
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Henry Jackman); Godzilla (Alexandre Desplat); The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat); Noah (Clint Mansell); Snowpiercer (Marco Beltrami)... though I'd be hard-pressed to tell you why in all five cases other than that I responded to the music and thought it a fine match for the material tonally
BEST SOUND MIXING & EDITING: In these categories I'd undoubtedly go with some mix of the otherwordly bestial movies like Godzilla, Noah and How To Train Your Dragon 2 and I'd most definitely opt for Under the Skin and not just because my BFF and I leaned toward each other and whispered Yaz's "I Before E Except After C" lyrics during the enormously creepy vocalizations in the first minute of the film. But other than that I'm open to suggestions...
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: And now we can raise our voices again after the jump because I have five I LOVE already and we're only half finished with 2014. Guess what they are...
All five of these songs are beauties in their movies, and do exactly the kind of thing that justifies the much maligned category in the first place:
a) they are all prominently featured in their movies
b) they are not merely decorative but narratively / thematically crucial
"Lost Stars" - Begin Again. This song and, far more uniquely, its different arrangements, are hugely important in defining the irreconciliable differences of the troubled romance in the movie
"Like a Fool" -Begin Again. One of the best scenes in the movie, when Greta (Keira Knightley) and her friend Steve (scene-stealing James Corden) record a voice message to Greta's ex boyfriend
"A Step You Can't Take Back" - Begin Again. This is the film's opening number but we loop back to it in an important POV shift from Keira Knightley to Mark Ruffalo which is inarguably corny but works anyway.
"For the Dancing and the Dreaming" - How To Train Your Dragon 2... a romantic duet between Hiccup's parents... though weirdly Cate Blanchett doesn't do her own singing despite it being more of a character folk song than a singing showcase. Pity about the gender politics and the entire third act of this movie because the second act that's focused on Valka (Cate Blanchett) sure is a spiritual beauty.
"Everything is Awesome" - The Lego Movie
I APOLOGIZE. I KNOW THAT JULY IS THE FIRST MONTH THAT THIS SONG HAS FINALLY STOPPED PLAYING LIKE AN EARWORM IN YOUR BRAIN. AND NOW IT'S BACK BWAAAAHAHAHA.