Only Oscar experts and people who work in the sound industry know the difference between Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. Even plenty of Academy members don’t know the difference between the two categories, which is a problem because while sound editors and sound mixers gets to the select the nominees, the full Academy votes on the categories. This means you have a largely uninformed electorate voting on what they don’t understand across two categories. Wouldn’t it just be better to consolidate the two categories into one? After all, a set dressing is different than production design, but it all falls under one category.
THR reports that “a subcommittee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ sound branch is ‘favoring’ a consolidation of the sound mixing and editing categories, the branch’s governors informed members in an email sent on Wednesday, calling it a reflection that ‘the lines that separated our responsibilities to the overall soundtrack of a motion picture are blurring.’”
That’s a fair assessment. Furthermore, the Sound Editing category is relatively new, having only been added in 2006, and the governors recognize that more often than not, the same movie wins in Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing because voters don’t know the difference.
If the categories were combined, then nominatons would go to “up to 2 supervising sound editors, 1 production sound mixer and up to 3 re-recording mixers,” so it’s not like anyone is necessarily losing out on an award. It’s just that they now fall under one umbrella, and since the same movie won both categories eight of the past thirteen years, not much will change except a slightly shorter ceremony.
I would also add that if the categories are reduced, then that makes way for a new category to take its place and the Academy should strongly consider adding Best Stunts (a discipline made invaluable to the blockbuster landscape even with the rise of CGI) and/or Best Casting (a field largely dominated by women and essential to finding the right casts for a given project).