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10 Great Recent Movies With Brilliant Sound Design

Not the score, not the sound effects or foley, but the sound design, what is it? We hear it when we watch a film and if done to par excellence, we don’t even notice it, it just adds to the cinematic experience. When it comes to sound design, we are talking about the overall mixing and editing of all the sounds in the film, from the dialogue, ambient sound, soundtrack, effect and so forth. Therefore, here are 10 recent films with a great sound design.

 

1. Good Time (2017) – Josh and Benny Safdie

Before this year’s “Uncut Gems,” the Safdies really took control of their craft in this adrenaline-filled, panic attack low-level criminality of a film. From the beginning of the film where Robert Pattinson’s crazed Connie takes his brother Nick out of a therapist’s office, we are almost assaulted with sound and imagery.

From the realistic sounds of the streets of Queens in New York to the overlapping dialogue to Oneohtrix Point Never’s unparalleled soundtrack and music, it’s a unique approach to the design. At some points, some levels are higher or lower than a commercial type of film, which only adds to the uniqueness of this film. More importantly, it allows us to enter the world and the mind of Connie that the Safdies created.

Again, the Safdies began their mastering of sound design in this film and with its independent approach, they prove that design is an integral part of the filmmaking process.

 

2. A Quiet Place (2018) – John Krasinski

An unexpected hit where, aside from the bonding of the family portrayed by real-life couple John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, sound is the true principle character here. With a horror premise where making any sounds will ultimately led to your death by attack, the film must be as silent as it can be.

Of course, American Sign Language is the means of communication, but what about the footsteps of sand, a young boy’s toy, monsters’ creaking around, and even a foot stepping on a nail, it all adds the layering of sounds in this film. When watching it, an audience member is almost compelled to remain silent to hear and experience the design of this film, literally placing you into this world.

In the end, the sound is so precise, it can’t be missed. You must truly listen with the highest level of detail to experience this film, not because the volume is low but because the world is so exact and visionary.

 

3. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) – George Miller

mad max

Where to even begin on this film? From Junkie XL’s score to the insane amount of realistic and futuristic anomaly of sounds on machinery and humanity. Miller used his entire filmography of work, obviously the Mad Max series, to perfect his vision of sound design in this film.

What is truly flawless in this film is the combination of sound foley, such as roaring engines, metal clanks and gun shots without the compromise of the killer soundtrack or even the Flame Throwing Guitar Dude. It layers onto one another where we hear and feel all these sounds in this post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Showered with well-deserved awards, this is an action film looking to capitalize on the essence of sound design or any film in general, particularly blockbusters coming out of Hollywood. Please take note of this film.

 

4. Whiplash (2014) – Damien Chazelle

From Buddy Rich, Charlie Parker, and all the jazz sessions in between, this film hit a new high for all films. Not only because the film is based around music, and obviously in our case, jazz, Chazelle was able to include and overlap some sounds, much like a jazz piece itself.

Whether listening to music, performing it in a classroom or solo, or even the sounds of the real world or non-jazz scenes, we get a sense of the design that fuels the film. Take the final scene, for example; from “Caravan” to the almost muted tappings on the drum or silent gestures between Teller’s Andrew and Simmons’ Fletcher, all aspects are explored. With the music, silence, ambient sound in the rooms, and of course, Hurwitz’s score, nothing is left off the table.

We saw the brilliance of design under Chazelle’s direction; the final scene in this film will be hard to beat for himself but watching any scene from this film, one can learn, and more importantly feel, how the subjects and content of a film are actually played out in the sound design from start to finish.

 

5. Krisha (2015) – Trey Edward Shults

Krisha

A truly original score, which adds layers to the setting, context, and emotion of the film, is the first aspect of the sound design that sticks out. Shults manages to incorporate yelling verbosity, some of which was improved along with household sounds for a unique design.

The film in and of itself is an experimentation in style, shifting aspect ratios or keeping the narrative in one location. Therefore, why wouldn’t the sound design have a unique approach and not necessarily stand out but enhance our viewing experience? Shults continues to explore how sounds can add to the mental mind state of the character and environment, but with his debut feature, he set a high bar for himself in the future.

10 Great Recent Movies With 100% Rotten Tomatoes Score

Judging a movie solely by its Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t a great idea, but if you know how the Tomatometer works it can be easier to find out if a film is worth your time or not.

Many people still don’t know that the Tomatometer score just represents the percent of critics who gave a film positive reviews, so if a movie gets one hundred 7/10 reviews, it will have a 100% score, but that doesn’t automatically make it better than other movies with lower scores but higher average rating, which is the more accurate way to judge a film’s value. Also, you have to take into account the total count of reviewers that have reviewed the film.

That is why for this list of movies with a 100% Tomatometer score we only chose films with more than 20 reviews and an average rating higher than 7. It is a pretty diverse list and although most of the films aren’t that well-known, they are all great and deserve more recognition. Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen any of them.

 

10. Weathering With You (2019)

“Weathering With You” is written and directed by Makoto Shinkai, who is best known for his 2016 film “Your Name”, one of the best and most successful animations of the decade and a must-see for every film lover.

While “Weathering With You” isn’t as good as “Your Name” – but that would have been pretty hard to achieve – this is still a great film and among the best animations of 2019.

Set in Japan, the movie follows a high school boy called Hodaka Morishima who leaves his isolated island home and moves to Tokyo. There, he befriends a girl who seems to be able to control the weather and the two of them start a small business and charge people money in order to get rid of the rain.

Like “Your Name”, this film benefits of gorgeous animation and is worth watching for its visuals only. The only negative aspect we can point out is the somewhat lack of originality: the film’s structure and the romantic plot are very similar to the former film and – while they are good – they sometimes feel like a rehash.

However, for someone who hasn’t seen Makoto Shinkai’s previous film yet, this aspect will not be a problem at all. Overall, the incredible animation and very moving story make “Weathering With You” a film worth watching and we can only recommend it.

 

9. Creep 2 (2017)

The follow-up to 2014’s “Creep”, which was one of the most entertaining horror movies of the last few years, “Creep 2” is a sequel that holds its own.

The film takes place after the funny yet disturbing story from the original and once again stars Mark Duplass as Josef (now known as Aaron), a deranged man who employs people to film him while he… has his own way with them.

While in the first movie we saw director Patrick Bryce getting creeped out by Duplass’ character, in the sequel the protagonist is Sara (played by Desiree Akhavan), a college student who works as a videographer and has the bad idea to accept to document one day of Josef’s life for her YouTube series entitled “Encounters”.

“Creep 2” is a great sequel which recaptures the atmosphere of the original film and, while it isn’t as thrilling as its predecessor, it is equally engaging, even more fun and – in some critics’ eyes – an improvement over the first one.

 

8. Night Comes On (2018)

Jordana Spiro’s gritty and intimate study of vengeance and forgiveness tells the powerful story of two sisters who embark on a journey of revenge after their father murders their mother and manages to stay out of prison due to lack of evidence.

Angel (Dominique Fishback), the older sister, was just released from juvenile detention and she is not the most charismatic protagonist. She is about to turn 18 years old, but she seems to have lost her childhood innocence. On the outside, she comes across as a tough young woman, but it’s obvious that she is very troubled and you can see the sadness in her eyes. The death of her mother has turned her whole world upside down and she is determined to avenge her murder, but the fact that the person she has to kill is her own father makes it a most painful task.

On the other hand, her sister Abby (Tatum Marilyn Hall) is still a child and doesn’t really seem to realize the wrongfulness of her life. While we still wouldn’t call her joyous, it’s obvious that her mother’s death didn’t have an impact on her as much as it had on her older sister. It is the benefit of being a child: you don’t fully understand the world around you.

The actresses playing the two sisters did a great job portraying their characters and they really made them feel like real people. However, the glue that holds it all together is the simple yet effective script which was written by Jordana Spiro with the help of Angelica Nwandu and proves once again that sometimes, when making a good film, less can be more.

 

7. Chained For Life (2019)

Paying homage to movies such as David Lynch’s “Elephant Man” (1980) or Tod Browning’s “Freaks” (1932) and titled after the 1952 homonymous film, “Chained For Life” is Aaron Schimberg’s second movie and stars Jess Weixler as Mabel, a beautiful actress who is filming an European horror-comedy which takes place in a hospital and features patients with various strange disabilities. In the film within a film, Mabel plays the role of a blind woman who falls in love with a disfigured man called Rosenthal, played by “Under The Skin” actor Adam Pearson”.

“Chained For Life” starts with a quote from film critic Pauline Kael, who talks about actors, beauty and how people like seeing someone appealing on screen. This is probably the most apparent point that the film tries to make and there are many scenes which allude to the importance of looks in the world of filmmaking, but “Chained For Life” doesn’t take itself too seriously and is sprinkled with chuckle-inducing moments and quirky characters.

Among them, there’s a literal half-woman half-man person, a dwarf, a bearded man, a pair of Siamese twins and last but not least a German director with a hilarious accent played by Charlie Korsmo, a former child actor who once played Peter Pan’s kid in Steven Spielberg’s “Hook” (1991). Also, all of the scenes from the film within the film range from serious to goofy, surreal humor or over-the-top bonkers and are – for most of the time – very entertaining to watch.

Overall, “Chained For Life” is not a film without flaws and the most obvious ones are that in the end, it doesn’t seem to say too much and its plot feels a little undercooked. However, even though the whole film is not better than the sum of its parts, there are enough strong moments that – taken individually – make it worth watching.

 

6. A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (2019)

Sarah, a single young mother of a boy and a girl whose husband was murdered, is struggling with grief and money problems. And as things aren’t already bad enough for her, one day a robber forcefully enters into her house and bullies her into letting him stash some stolen drugs in her apartment. After she finds out that the robber has links to the criminal world, Sarah sees the opportunity and tries to find out what exactly happened with her dead husband.

This British thriller is a slow-burn yet, in the end, an engrossing and rewarding experience. We were pleasantly surprised by Sarah Bolger’s acting range. The 28 years old Irish actress is perfectly cast as the main character and we thought that her excellent performance was the standout of this somewhat middling thriller.