This award has kind of an odd history. It began in 1963, when it was called Sound Effects.  (Actually, according to the Academy, prior to 1963 it was considered part of the Special Effects category, which was then split in 1963 into Visual Effects and Sound Effects). It had two nominees a year until 1967, when it stopped. Then, in 1975, it became a Special Achievement Award, given that year, in 1977 (when there were two – Sound Effects Editing for Close Encounters and Sound Effects for Star Wars), 1979 when it was called Sound Editing, in 1981 when it was Sound Effects Editing again, then in 1982 was re-added as a regular category as Sound Effects Editing. For the rest of the 80’s and 90’s, it bounced back forth between regular and Special Achievement, with as many as 3 nominees, and sometimes just a winner. Then from 2000 to 2005, it was again called Sound Editing, and in 2006 it became a regular category with a full 5 nominees. And the Sound Editors love them their Pixar (6 nominations and counting, as well as 1 win).

Of course, several great films lost a chance at an Oscar during the years before 1962, including The Sound Barrier, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Bridge on the River Kwai, Ben-Hur, Spartacus, The Guns of Navarone and Lawrence of Arabia (of those, 20000, Ben-Hur and Guns all won the Oscar for Special Effects).

As can be expected, the overlap with Best Sound is quite high. Of the 101 films nominated for Sound Editing, 73 of them were nominated for Best Sound and 13 films have won both Oscars. There is also a good deal of overlap with Best Visual Effects with 36 films nominated for both and 12 films winning both Oscars. 8 films have won all three Oscars, the major visual effects films of our time: Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Titanic, The Matrix and King Kong.

Since the category has been so scattered, I will simply list my top three choices starting in 1963 (if I think three were worthy) until 2005, after which I will choose 5. I actually agreed with the winner 15 times, which is a good number for any category, but given that they have only given out 37 Oscars, it’s extremely high.

In the early days, no winner was ever nominated again.  All of the winners from 1963 to 1975 have one Oscar and no other nominations in the category, yet, oddly enough, the first two nominees who didn’t win (Robert L. Bratton in 1963 and Walter A. Rossi) each earned a nomination again the following year and still didn’t win.  It wasn’t until Ben Burtt began winning Oscars (first in 1977 for Star Wars) that someone starting racking up points.  With 4 Oscars and 8 total nominations, Burtt reigns supreme in the category.  He is followed by Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom (both with 3 Oscars and 5 total nominations) and George Watters (2 Oscars, 6 noms).  Rydstrom has the distinction of not only being the first person to defeat himself in the category (in 1991 when he won the Oscar for his work on Terminator 2 over his work on Backdraft), but he became the first person to go up against himself in two different categories (again, winning for Terminator 2 and losing for Backdraft in Best Sound).  And on that note, I should point the comment from last year that is below and is incorrect, for Scott Glenn is in the film Backdraft, making his films 4 for 5 in this category (he is in the Oscar winners The Right Stuff, The River, The Hunt for Red October and The Bourne Ultimatum).

Grade: Winners: A- / Nominees: B; Percentage: 98.95% (all but The Lively Set) 100%

Honor Roll: Goldfinger / Minority Report

Shame Roll: Rambo: First Blood Part II

1963 AA: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World / A Gathering of Eagles

me: The Great Escape / Jason and the Argonauts / The Birds

1964 AA: Goldfinger / The Lively Set

me: Goldfinger / Harakiri / From Russia with Love

1965 AA: The Great Race / Von Ryan’s Express

me: Thunderball / Doctor Zhivago / Red Line 7000

1966 AA: Grand Prix / Fantastic Voyage

me: Grand Prix / Fantastic Voyage / The Sand Pebbles

1967 AA: The Dirty Dozen / In the Heat of the Night

me: Bonnie and Clyde / The Dirty Dozen / Point Blank

1968 me: 2001: A Space Odyssey / Bullitt / The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

1969 me: The Wild Bunch / Once Upon a Time in the West / On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

1970 me: Patton / Tora! Tora! Tora! / M*A*S*H

1971 me: The French Connection / A Clockwork Orange / Diamonds are Forever

1972 me: The Poseidon Adventure / Deliverance / The Godfather

1973 me: The Exorcist / Enter the Dragon / Battles Without Honor or Humanity

1974 me: The Conversation / The Towering Inferno / Earthquake

1975 AA: The Hindenburg (Special Award)

me: Jaws / French Connection II / The Man Who Would Be King

1976 me: The Outlaw Josey Wales / King Kong / Solyaris

1977 AA: Close Encounters of the Third Kind / Star Wars (Special Awards)

me: Star Wars / Close Encounters of the Third Kind / A Bridge Too Far

1978 me: Superman / The Deer Hunter / Battlestar Gallactica

1979 AA: The Black Stallion (Special Award)

me: Alien / Apocalypse Now / Star Trek

1980 me: Raging Bull / The Empire Strikes Back / Kagemusha

1981 AA: Raiders of the Lost Ark (Special Award)

me: Raiders of the Lost Ark / Excalibur / Superman II

1982 AA: E.T. / Das Boot / Poltergeist

me: Das Boot / E.T. / Blade Runner

1983 AA: The Right Stuff / Return of the Jedi

me: The Right Stuff / Return of the Jedi / The Evil Dead

1984 AA: The River (Special Award)

me: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom / Dune / 2010

1985 AA: Back to the Future / Ladyhawke / Rambo: First Blood Part II

me: Ran / Back to the Future / Brazil

1986 AA: Aliens / Top Gun / Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

me: Platoon / Aliens / Top Gun

1987 AA: RoboCop (Special Award)

me: Full Metal Jacket / Evil Dead 2 / Empire of the Sun

1988 AA: Who Framed Roger Rabbit / Die Hard / Willow

me: Die Hard / Who Framed Roger Rabbit / Willow

1989 AA: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade / Black Rain / Lethal Weapon 2

me: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade / Born on the Fourth of July / Glory

1990 AA: The Hunt for Red October / Total Recall / Flatliners

me: The Hunt for Red October / The Killer / Total Recall

1991 AA: Terminator 2: Judgment Day / Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country / Backdraft

me: Terminator 2: Judgment Day / JFK / Backdraft

1992 AA: Bram Stoker’s Dracula / Aladdin / Under Siege

me: Last of the Mohicans / Hard-Boiled / Unforgiven

1993 AA: Jurassic Park / The Fugitive / Cliffhanger

me: Jurassic Park / The Fugitive / The Nightmare Before Christmas

1994 AA: Speed / Forrest Gump / Clear and Present Danger

me: Heavenly Creatures / The Crow / Leon

1995 AA: Braveheart / Crimson Tide / Batman Forever

me: Heat / Apollo 13 / The Usual Suspects

1996 AA: The Ghost and the Darkness / Eraser / Daylight

semi-finalists not nominated: Independence Day / The Rock / Star Trek: First Contact / Twister

me: The Rock / Evita / Independence Day

note:  From 1992 to 1995, Bruce Stambler and Jon Leveque were nominated each year and lost.  In 1996, when Stambler was credited alone on The Ghost and the Darkness, he finally won the Oscar, with his 5 consecutive nomination.  In spite of his work on L.A. Confidential and Three Kings, Leveque has not been nominated again and shares the record with Wylie Stateman of 4 nominations in this category without an Oscar.

1997 AA: Titanic / The Fifth Element / Face/Off

semi-finalists not nominated: Air Force One / Con Air / L.A. Confidential / Lost World

me: The Fifth Element / Titanic / Men in Black

1998 AA: Saving Private Ryan / Armaggedon / The Mask of Zorro

semi-finalists not nominated: Godzilla / Lethal Weapon 4 / Ronin / The Thin Red Line

me: Saving Private Ryan / Ronin / The Thin Red Line

1999 AA: The Matrix / Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace / Fight Club

semi-finalists not nominated: Any Given Sunday / The Green Mile / The Mummy / Three Kings

me: Fight Club / Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace / The Matrix

2000 AA: U-571 / Space Cowboys

semi-finalists not nominated: Cast Away / Gladiator / Mission Impossible 2 / The Perfect Storm / Unbreakable

me: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon / The Perfect Storm / X-Men

2001 AA: Pearl Harbor / Monsters Inc.

semi-finalists not nominated: A.I. / Black Hawk Down / Amelie / The Fast and the Furius / The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

me: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring / Black Hawk Down / A.I.

2002 AA: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers / Road to Perdition / Minority Report

semi-finalists not nominated: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets / Spider-Man / We Were Soldiers / XXX

me: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers / Minority Report / Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

2003 AA: Master and Commander: Far Side of the World / Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl / Finding Nemo

semi-finalists not nominated: Kill Bill Volume 1 / The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / The Last Samurai / Seabiscuit

me: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King / Kill Bill Volume 1 / Master and Commander: Far Side of the World

2004 AA: The Incredibles / Polar Express / Spider-Man 2

semi-finalists not nominated: The Aviator / Collateral / The Day After Tomorrow / Ray

me: The Aviator / Spider-Man 2 / House of Flying Daggers

note:  For the third time in four years, my winner is a semi-finalist but not actually a nominee.  I can’t quite understand how Two Towers was worthy of an Oscar but the other two Lord of the Rings films didn’t get nominations or how the amazing sound effects in The Aviator, specifically in the two plane crashes, weren’t nominated.

2005 AA: King Kong / Memoirs of a Geisha / War of the Worlds

semi-finalists not nominated: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe / Walk the Line / Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith / Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

me: King Kong / Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith / War of the Worlds

2006 AA: Letters from Iwo Jima / Blood Diamond / Apocalypto / Flags of Our Fathers / Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

me: Casino Royale / Superman Returns / United 93 / The Fountain / Letters from Iwo Jima

2007 AA: The Bourne Ultimatum / No Country for Old Men / There Will Be Blood / Ratatouille / Transformers

me: The Bourne Ultimatum / 3:10 to Yuma / Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix / No Country for Old Men / Stardust

2008 AA: The Dark Knight / Iron Man / Slumdog Millionaire / Wall-E / Wanted

me: The Dark Knight / Iron Man / Wall-E / Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull / Slumdog Millionaire

2009 AA: The Hurt Locker / Avatar / Inglourious Basterds / Star Trek / Up

me:  The Hurt Locker / Avatar / Inglourious Basterds / District 9 / Star Trek

Honorary Mentions: Solaris (2002) / Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004) / Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)  /  Up (2009)

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