I've found a few threads already which touch on this subject but thought I'd throw out the question in a more general sense.

I'm starting to build a collection of reference blurays that exhibit the greatest in film sound. If you were doing the same, what would you have to have in your collection and why?

It could be there for the SFX design, the mixing, the dialogue recording, the atmospheres, the way the sound perfectly holds the tension or makes you empathize with the characters, or any other reason under the sun!

So far in my list:

  • Star Wars Saga
  • Jurassic Park
  • Wall-E
  • The Social Network
  • Alien
  • District 9
  • Transformers
  • The Matrix
  • I can understand all except the social network. What determined you to include it in this list?
    – Cat
    Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 14:46
  • It has a fantastic mix and I really love the score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Rose. The scene where they are talking in the club is one of the only club scenes I've seen that actually feels real. It's so loud yet you can clearly hear the dialogue and the actors sound like they are actually shouting above the music. Commented Jul 1, 2013 at 0:56
  • Social Network is a fantastic sounding movie. The dialogue is mixed great in the whole movie and that club scene blows me away, though a lot of that scene is in the acting and directing. Commented Jul 18, 2013 at 5:14

8 Answers 8


If you characterise your blu-rays by genre (sci-fi, action, drama, animation, etc.) then it will help you work out the important aspects of the sound for each.

PS I always liked the sound in Terminator films (sci-fi/action).


I am sure it will be interesting to see what people list here. I am going to throw in my 2 cents and try and think back to the films where the sound affected me a lot.

1/Sinister 2/Come and See 3/Inception 4/Wall-E 5/Most of the David Lynch Films 6/Audition 7/Amadeus 8/Saving Private Ryan 9/Mama 10/Pan's Labyrinth

A bit of an eclectic mix but they are the ones that have stood in a way offering some really interesting sonic alternatives to their established genres. But by no means do I not agree with Joesph's list.

  • Love Inception and Pan's Labyrinth, although haven't watched it since it's first release so will have to give it a rewatch. A lit of films I haven't seen yet either so thanks for the list to check out! Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 1:58

Indiana Jones films - Amazing Ben Burtt sound in a non-sci-fi setting

Once Upon A Time In The West - The use of sound in the opening scene is one of my favorite film sound moments and should be a mandatory viewing for anyone interested in sound

Fight Club - Great stylized sound design (airplane scene, car crash, gun shot at the end), really cool foley work (I love Marla's footsteps in the old house), cool fight stuff (of course)

  • Oh Fight Club, how I love thee. Definitely one I overlooked in my list. I remember studying its sound design back at uni. Incredible. Such a huge David Fincher fan. Loved the sound of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo aswell. He did such a fantastic job in that film. Commented Jun 30, 2013 at 2:01

This list could go on forever but besides whats already post, I think Eraser Head and Barton Fink are important films to include and I'd have to say 'seven' as well.


I just finished watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 again and have to add it to the list for being so dynamic, detailed and perfectly over the top. Also a massive fan of the sound design in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds. Particularly the opening scene for its detail and subtlety.


Here's my input

  • Wall e
  • Upstream colour
  • Stoker
  • We need to talk about Kevin
  • No country for old men
  • There will be blood
  • Berberian sound studio
  • Inception
  • District 9

Here are a few off the top of my head. I'll try not to list ones already mentioned unless my reason is different.

  • Kung Fu Panda : Dialog Recording, Mix & Sound Design. (watch in headphones without looking at the picture too. It's incredible)
  • No Country for Old Men : Dialog, Foley & Ambience. Mostly I like to reference for foley.
  • The Impossible : the sound design is AWESOME
  • Blade Runner : Ambiences...wow.
  • Forest Gump : Randy Thom, enough said :)
  • Toy Story : EVERYTHING
  • The English Patient : Ambiences were very effective in my opinion.
  • Das Boot : Ambiences, Sound Design
  • Requiem for a Dream : Sound Design
  • Ratatouille - Everything, but specifically I like to reference this for dialog, they did a GREAT job getting the dialog in the right 'space'. Outside, alleyways, in the kitchen, offices, etc.
  • The Lord of the Rings : Again, the biggest thing I get out of this is Dialog. It was all ADR'd using the VoiceQ software. Pay close attention to the use of reverb and delay to create the right space. hill sides, mountains, stones, interiors. The mixing techniques used to mix the dialog BLOW MY MIND. I have no idea how they do it. Its frustrating when you're self taught and live in a small town like myself...
  • How to Train Your Dragon : Sound Design. Each 'class' of dragon sounds different. Very well done.
  • The Matrix : Of course sound design, but why? Notice the 'blue-ish' coloring when they're in the "real" world and the "greenish" when they're in the Matrix? Much like that, the sound is also different. Sound in the matrix is much harsher, digital. Watch the film in headphones and notice intensional glitches in the sound each time Neo does something to breach the rules. It's quite impressive. Sound and music also work VERY well together as the Davis brothers both worked on the film, and I imagine closely at that.
  • Big Fish : Enough Said
  • The Kings Speech : Dialog, ambience.
  • Tinker Toy Sailer Spy : Ambiences, Foley, dialog, MIX. It took them 3 days to get the right sound and feel of the soundproof room during mixing. It paid off.
  • Zero Dark Thirty & The Hurt Locker : Same team, they go hand in hand for me. It's the realism that's so beautiful here. The sound at times gives me a stomach ache. Note the scene in Hurt Locker when he opens the old car truck and finds the bombs. There's this sound that old cars and metal make, like this creaking that truly makes it believable. Paul Ottoman is insanely talented.
  • Argo : accurate, believable ambiences, tension in sound and music.
  • Flight : Awesome Sound Design
  • Take Shelter : Awesome Sound Design
  • Drive : Sound Design and Ambience. The main character doesn't speak much. A lot of the tension, what he's thinking, and how the story flows is lead by sound.
  • The Social Network : if you haven't watched Michael Semanick's masterclass DO IT NOW!! He breaks down music, sound and dialog for two scenes and it's awesome to hear how much work was put into it. http://www.soundworkscollection.com/videos/michaelsemanick
  • Black Swam : Sound was a HUGE instigator of story here. Dang its creepy at times.
  • Avatar : like the movie or not, what Christopher Boyes and his team did here is amazing.
  • ET : duh! haha
  • The Godfather : Walter Murch...that's why
  • The Good Fellas - classic

I'm out of time, but I'll post more when they come to mind....

  • Amazing list Jake! Exactly what I was looking for :) Reminded me of a few I'd forgotten as well. Argo being one of them. That scene in the car driving through the Bazaar, everyone banging on the windows and roof. AMAZING! Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 5:06
  • great shout on big fish, hurt locker, Drive and Ratatouille. Id also through Pie in there. its early, brash and much less refined that aranofksy later stuff, but still brilliant.
    – Tom
    Commented Jul 17, 2013 at 8:51
  • Actually Dane Davis and Don Davis aren't related. Sorry, I feel that needs to be corrected. Commented Sep 10, 2013 at 1:59

The never ending list.

Bug's Life - foley is fantastic

Scott Pilgrim vs The World - crazy fun

Hanna - I really like how sound design and score are blurred together

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