Director & Writer: Edgar Wright
Producers: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, and Eric Fellner
Cinematography: Bill Pope
Composer: Steven Price
Editors: Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos
Distributor: TriStar Pictures
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Run-time: 113 minutes
FILM SYNOPSIS: A young getaway driver known as Baby is in debt to crime boss Doc, but he plans on retiring after he falls for a sympathetic waitress. Doc traps Baby into participating in one more job, however, alongside a crew of mismatched thieves, with the stakes and violence escalating until Baby is forced to race toward freedom.
“Baby Driver” was easily one of my favorite films of 2017, not just because I love Edgar Wright’s work but because it was the definition of original. A big part of that originality is the way the film revolves around music. The character of Baby is constantly listening to music and within that, the scenes end up being paced around those songs. A car chase scene is not only edited to the beat, but within the scene, characters are doing things that match the music, whether it’s Baby tapping his fingers on the dash or a gunshots matching the beat of the song or an explosion that happens at just the right point in the music. Not just is the film edited to the music, but it also has to build tension around the tones of the film, with the film turning horror/thriller for most of the third act. The fact that “Baby Driver” was not really looked at as an Oscars film, yet here we are where it is competing against some of the biggest films of the year truly shows Edgar Wright is beyond talented with his craft. The film faces off against “Dunkirk” as its biggest competitor in the Best Film Editing category, simply because Christopher Nolan is a master at his craft as well. The editing in “Dunkirk” revolves around three different timelines happening across three different periods of time, yet building tension in each of those timelines seamlessly. Despite also loving “Dunkirk,” seeing a win for “Baby Driver” would be so fulfilling.
Along with the film being edited around the music, it is also dependent on mixing that music within the scope of the film. As the video chronicles below, editing in the sounds of the environment of the film, like police sirens, car noises, and general ambience is a craft in and of itself. But to also get the music across in a big way without drowning it out or letting the music drown out the sound effects sounds daunting. The sound team also gets to mess with what the characters here, whether it’s the scene where Baby is listening to his earbuds rather than listening to Kevin Spacey’s Doc tell the plan is a choice. The ringing in Baby’s ears at the end of the film has to be done just right to not only cause the viewer to feel slightly uncomfortable but to get across the idea that Baby’s hearing is shot. Where this racks up against a film like “Dunkirk,” which almost lives and dies by its sound design is beyond me. If I were to hazard a guess, I would assume “Dunkirk” would land a little bit stronger. First of all, it’s a war film, and those usually do quite well in the sound categories, especially if they are excellently made. I remember after seeing “Dunkirk” in the theater the first time, that the sound design definitely stuck out to me. And for that, I think it might overcome the balancing act in “Baby Driver.”
In all three categories, “Baby Driver” mostly has the same competition in “Dunkirk.” There has not been a ton of love for “Dunkirk” this season, so it really comes down to how the Academy felt about that film. The fact that Nolan’s behind that film and the Academy tends to be behind Nolan in a big way tells me that it will likely go the way of “Dunkirk.” But a win for “Baby Driver” in any of these categories would be well deserved and would be a huge accomplishment for the film.
PAUL MACHLISS AND JONATHAN AMOS
JULIAN SLATER, TIM CAVAGIN, AND MARY H. ELLIS
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