36 MPH / The Glitz! The Glamour! The Oscars!

Speed Goes to the Academy Awards

The 96th annual Academy Awards are right around the corner. Next weekend, in fact! Movies like Oppenheimer, Poor Things, Killers of the Flower Moon, Barbie and Maestro are up for top awards. Meanwhile, one of 50 MPH’s very own was recognized with one of the Academy’s Scientific & Technical Awards a few weeks back: special effects coordinator John Frazier, for the initial concept of the Blind Drive Roof Pod, which was developed for Speed and continues to be a key part of action productions. Costume designer Ellen Mirojnick also landed her first-ever Oscar nomination this year for Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. We’ll be pulling for her next weekend.

67th Academy Awards - Best Sound - Speed
Ellen Barkin presents the Oscar for Best Sound at the 67th Academy Awards

But today, as we do around here, we’re going to go back in time, to the 67th annual Academy Awards. The Speed team is high on the film’s killer performance at the box office and on home video in 1994, and now, some of them are slated for Oscar recognition themselves. The nominations drop on February 14, 1995, and a very Happy Valentine’s Day it is for the movie’s film editor, John Wright, sound effects editor, Stephen Hunter Flick, and sound mixers, Gregg Landaker, Steve Maslow, Bob Beemer and David Macmillan. Like Cinderella, they’re whisked away to LA’s Shrine Auditorium on March 27, 1995, to do battle with movies like Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption, among others.

“I always told my mom I was going to go to Hollywood and I was going to go to the Oscars, and never quite sure if that ever would happen, but it did happen, so, it was really cool,” director Jan de Bont recalls.

The film’s sound team would walk away with top honors for Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing, making Speed one of only four films to win in multiple categories that year.

“I thought we had a good chance, having seen the films. There weren’t any really big sound movies out that year other than Speed,” Macmillan says. Landaker, however, was less sure.

“We thought it was a good action film, but as far as Academy-wise, it didn’t fit the mold,” Landaker says. “We had no preconceived notion that it was going to win. When we go to the Academy, I don’t go there expecting to give a speech. I was invited to the party, and that’s the way we always looked at it.”

Stephen Hunter Flick Sarah Jessica Parker 67th Academy Awards
Sound editor Stephen Hunter Flick with presenter Sarah Jessica Parker at the 67th Academy Awards

For Flick, who had been honored with special achievement Oscars prior to Speed but never won in a competitive Academy race, the feeling was otherworldly.

“It’s hard to describe,” he says. “I thought I was going to float away like a balloon.”

Wright, however, had to watch Forrest Gump walk away with the film editing spoils. After winning the British Academy prize against stiff competition from Best Picture players, at that.

“I was a little disappointed,” Wright admits. “I mean, everybody in the movie business who makes movies wants to go out with, you know, winning an Oscar, but it didn’t surprise me. Both the movies that I was nominated for were not the kind of movies that got nominated for acting, you know? And writing. The Hunt for Red October got nominated for the exact three categories that Speed did.”

All of that and more, including remembrances from the visual effects bakeoff that saw Speed come close to a fourth nomination, in this week’s episode of 50 MPH!

Speed wins the Oscar for Best Sound


Speed wins the Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing



Kris Tapley Your Host:

Kris has covered the entertainment industry for nearly two decades, with bylines at Variety, The New York Times, Empire and Vanity Fair. He now works as a writer and consultant in Los Angeles, where he lives with his loving wife, lively son and lazy cat. He likes Speed.