It’s a conundrum that the producers of the Oscars face every year: the categories that recognize the most explosive, glitzy elements of filmmaking make for boring-as-hell TV. Each year, producers struggle to graduate the segment of the telecast that hands out trophies in the technical categories from bathroom-break status, exploring new ways to interest viewers in awards like sound editing and visual effects—or at least bury them somewhere in the ceremony between the more glamorous categories.
But perhaps if Oscar fans knew more about the impressive work behind these nominated films—kind of like how everyone has heard by know that Natalie Portman dropped 20 pounds and trained 8 hours a day for Black Swan—they would become a lot more invested in hearing which film’s name is read off that envelope.
We broke down three of the night’s most important categories, with the help of two Academy members. Jeffrey Okun, visual effects supervisor for films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Blood Diamond, and Lon Bender, an Oscar winner for Sound Editing for Braveheart, help explain what exactly is so Oscar-worthy about the films nominated this year for Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing: