A Guide to the MPSE Golden Reel Awards for Sound Editing

Hacksaw Ridge, Sully, Deepwater Horizon, Arrival and La La Land_Split - Publicity - H 2017

The Motion Picture Sound Editors (MPSE) Golden Reel Awards will be handed out Feb. 19 at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles. Here's your tip sheet for the evening:

Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story lead the MPSE feature film competition with three nominations apiece, in the categories for dialogue/ADR, effects/Foley and music.

Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge also were nominated for the Academy Award in sound editing, along with Deepwater Horizon (an MPSE nominee for effects/Foley), La La Land (an MPSE nom for a feature musical) and Sully (an MPSE nom for dialogue/ADR).

In all, the Golden Reel Awards has 23 categories encompassing feature films, television, animation, computer entertainment and student work. The complete nominees list can be found here.

Golden Reel and Oscar nominees for Sully, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, are each vying for their third Academy Award in sound editing. They previously won sound editing Oscars for American Sniper in 2015 and for Letters From Iwo Jima in 2007.

Murray relates that for Sully's dramatic sequence during which Captain Sullenberger lands an Airbus in the Hudson River, the goal was remaining accurate and true to the story. “We had to do the bird strikes, engines blowing, alarms. … It was all structured on our interview with Captain Sullenberger, and we also had the cockpit transcripts, which were broken down by seconds.”

The team sought out an Airbus 320, which has the same engine as the one from the plane in the actual incident. “American Airlines was gracious to let us set up mics and we flew to Texas (without passengers) and recorded the sounds," Murray says. "We also went on the ferry during the shoot to capture those sounds. Sully is a hero, so you want to do everything you can to remain true to this story.”

Golden Reel and double Oscar nominee (sound editing and sound mixing categories) for Hacksaw Ridge, Robert Mackenzie, additionally earned an MPSE nomination for Lion.

“It was about creating the threat of the battle,” Mackenzie says of the work on Hacksaw Ridge. “It’s an anti-war film, so we wanted to put the audience in the battle to feel the terror of the war. We want to keep them as realistic as possible to the Battle of Okinawa — the ‘typhoon of steel’ — so we used a lot of metal sounds.”

You can read about the work on all five sound editing Oscar nominees here.

Guillermo del Toro will receive the MPSE Filmmaker Award.

"I use sound as a narrative tool," del Toro says. "The complete sound of a movie is delicately re-created from hundreds of layers of track and mixed over weeks and weeks to support the tone and narrative," says del Toro. "When you are impacted viscerally, it's not just by the visuals, it's the sound. Take a movie like Pan's Labyrinth. Those quiet moments are made out of 20 to 30 tracks. You are creating a texture. And for action, in big movies like Pacific Rim, you are constructing tonally an aggrandized hyper-reality. You can't just go out on the street and record a 250-foot robot."

Also set to be honored: Supervising sound editor and sound designer Harry Cohen, who is getting the Career Achievement Award.

Cohen also has a Golden Reel nomination this year, for Deepwater Horizon. A frequent collaborator with Quentin Tarantino, his credits include Inglourious Basterds and The Hateful Eight.

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.