Dear All,

What films are good examples of Sound Design to study and take note of?

I'm particularly looking for films which sound was used to forward the story with excellent results. Not just using sound for the sake of using sound. Ideally these films would be both of good technical quality as well as artistic in it's sound design. They could be of any genre, and preferably made within the last 3 years, however, I know there are definitely good classic films out there with superb sound design.

Please put at least some information about the film's sound and why you consider the sound well executed.

Thanks - Ryan

50 Answers 50


No one has mentioned it but, Atonement is one of my favourites.

You can see where the sound designers have worked with the composer closely, the massive steadicam shot is exceptional, I'm sure it wasn't easy to record sound on that. effects and music mix and blend together into scenes.



During the millenium era, I think 2007 was the best film-releasing year so far, while "No Country for Old Men" preserving their marvelous claim upon Oscar's Best Picture, "There Will Be Blood", "Atonement", "I'm Not There", and "Michael Clayton" are absolutely best film-contenders last decade among others...


Diva, 1981 french film directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix.

Sound recording is key plot device in the film.


  • DIVA! Great call. What a terrific film with a great focus on sound as a part of the story as much as setting the mood. – cocteau Jul 26 '11 at 19:37

+1 for the sound of Noise, I just watched that recently. Production sound must have been a blast there.
+1 for Children of Men.


Thirst by Chan-Wook Park has amazing sound design sequences!!


One that I can't recommend enough is In The City of Sylvia.

I've talked it up on here before, but I can't say enough good things about it. It's very hard to describe the approach... I can only say that it's a film that takes a unique approach to sound that shouldn't at all be unique... all films should give this much weight to sound. Very little dialogue... layers of other sounds throughout. Brilliantly mixed, as well. Inspiring.


"Barton Fink" is a better sound-film made by the Coens than "No Country for Old man" if you ask me. The work is much more subtle but has a huge impact on the way we look at the characters' environment. Then there's this small new wave of documentary-makers in the Netherlands who all do some really interesting stuff with sound for example the film: "4 Elements" by Jiska Rickels or "Bloody Mondays and Strawberry pies" by Coco Schreiber. check out the trailers:



Have fun with it!


I love films of Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan :koza, Iklimler, Uzak, Three monkeys.I also love the way Hou Hsiao Hsien minimally uses sound in his films like : A time to live time to die, Flight of the red balloons, Summer at Grand pa's and films by Terennce malick, The thin red line


Check out Robert Altman's large ensemble films like Nashville (1976) and A Wedding (1978). In Nashville, at least, he had 24 tracks going – one for each character.


I'd have to second the vote on 'Playtime' (Jacques Tati) this is totally awesome use of Foley which brings together the whole absurdity of the film perfectly. The opening airport scene is brilliant!

Without repeating anything suggested by anyone else, 'The Tree of Life' (Terrence Malick) and in particular the 30 minute evolution sequence. Demonstrates how beautiful imagery and sound can be so amazingly powerful.


Stoker by Chan-wook Park it's sublime I must say!!!


  • While this may be a valid answer to the question, it would be a much better answer if you could provide some additional detail as to what makes it a good film to study from a sound design perspective. – AJ Henderson Jan 27 '14 at 17:00

I listen to "the golden compass" a lot.


Nobody pointed about Academy Awards Database. http://awardsdatabase.oscars.org/ampas_awards/BasicSearchInput.jsp

I think here you definitely can find some good movie with good sound.


pt Andersons Punch Drunk Love.

And especially the first ten minutes of There Will Be Blood. Am I looking forward to the Master? Yes, I am.

And love this thread :-)


I think there could be another thread to discuss films where the sound design was somehow "overdone", in ways where it was possibly "too good" (if that makes sense).

'The Tree of Life' was a bit overdone for me (as was the film in general), also something about the sound in 'Where the Wild Things Are' disturbed me. With many stylistic contemporary films I get the feeling I'm watching a sophisticated music video rather than a film.


Every single thing I thought to add to this was within Tim Prebble;s list, so never-mind!


There are many many greats, but Requiem for a Dream really affected me the first time I watched it. Haven't seen it again in years but I still remember being affected by the great sound design.


Sunshine by Danny Boyle blew me away with its soundtrack. Amazing mix, amazing effects.


"Confessions" directed by Tetsuya Nakashima ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1590089/ ) That is the best movie I've watched recently in term of sound design. Espacially because of the use of silence.


I think Paul Thomas Anderson uses sound very well in all of his movies. Especially Punch Drunk Love, Magnolia, and There will be Blood. In punch drunk love, watch and listen to the Grocery Store scenes. In Magnolia, watch/listen when John C. Riley is going to the house that's playing music too loud. If u listen closely there are actually 3 different scores playing and overlapped, very interesting. And my fav example is from There Will be Blood. When Daniel Plainview is buying all the land the music perfectly emulates someone who is on a mission, like he can't be stopped. Then the music just stops, and you think "Okay he's done doing whatever he's doing" until the music kicks back in and you realize that the Character is no where near being finished. Hard to explain on here but PTA sound design is important to his films. Also I saw Under The skin last night, with Scarlett Johansen. That movie used sound very well, especially during all of the sex scenes. Also Black Swan uses sound very well.

protected by JoshP Apr 14 '14 at 16:01

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