I'm doing some research into surround at the moment and would love to hear of some films you think have notable surround mixes. I'd love to hear examples of subtle use of surround through to the extreme use of surround as a specific effect.
There are tons & I'm sure you'll get lots of good examples, but I gleamed most of what I know from "Master and Commander". Everything is impeccable. ADR, Foley, Sound Design, & some of the best Mixing you'll ever hear. There's incredible attention paid to perspective & panning. Just watch the opening action sequence & you'll have to change your pants.
Another movie that does a great job at real world panning & perspectives is "Children of Men". The obvious reference is the seamless POV steady-cam shot, but its also one of the few movies that flies dialog out of the center channel (or LCR) - & it works! I've always been really picky about keeping dialog "toward the frame". basically, the audience is always looking forward at the picture. Overusing surround channels (& the sub channel) is always kind of a rookie mistake. However, I think that Dolby Atmos will change how we feel about "where things should be"... We can actually put them there.
in case no one chimes in, my other favorite mixes...
Saving Private Ryan, District 9, Wall-E, Se7en
I don't know about surround sound, but if you haven't watched "Apocalypse Now" then do! That film has such an abstract sound and sheer brilliance in it's sound design. Also Rawly I've never listened to "Children of Men"'s sound design closely in the past, time for a second listen! Thanks for the recommendation! :) Also if you get a chance to watch "Life of Pi" in dolby Atmos, definitely pay attention to the way ambiance is used in the ceiling speakers, I think that mix was beautifully well done!