LOS ANGELES, Feb. 24, 2008 -- If this evening's Academy Awards are anything like this year's presidential primaries, then, to borrow part of a movie title, "There Will Be Upsets." But here is one nominee for whom a win would be more a relief than a surprise.
Odds are you've never heard of Kevin O'Connell. But chances are you've heard his work.
See more about O'Connell, his work and his latest Oscar nomination tonight on "World News." Check your local listings for air times.
From "Transformers" and "Crimson Tide" to "Twister" and "Spider-Man"…O'Connell has worked on an estimated 160 films.
He is a sound mixer, one of Hollywood's busiest and best. "A Chorus Line," "Broadcast News," "Field of Dreams," "The Passion of the Christ" -- O'Connell blends a movie's dialogue, music and sound effects together to create what he calls the voice of the film.
Often it's a loud voice, he says. "We determine which sound goes to which speaker at what time and for how long. So, if you've got a movie about jets flying across the screen, we actually take that sound and move it across the screen."
Like "Top Gun," for instance. For his sound mixing on that movie, O'Connell got an Oscar nomination in 1987. And that wasn't his first. He was nominated for "Terms of Endearment" in 1983. And then there was "Dune" and "Silverado" and with a sound mixing nomination for "Transformers" this year, O'Connell has had 20 nominations in 25 years and never won an Oscar.
In his home he has a wall full of reminders and a heartbreaking pile of undelivered acceptance speeches. But says every time he is nominated, he still gets a thrill.
"And the Oscar goes to … and I hold my breath for a minute. Am I going to hear my name? And then I don't. And I blow out my air. My body temperature comes back down. My heart rate gets back to normal."
And O'Connell goes back to work for another year and usually gets another nomination. But tonight when he waits to hear his name, things will be different. His mother, who helped him get his start in the studios, won't be there. Florence "Skippy" O'Connell told "Good Morning America" in 2006 she sure wanted to see the day he walked to the podium.
"I said, 'Win one before I die', and he said, 'That blows it mom, because if I win one and you die, the family will blame me for winning one,' so that was kind of the end of that."
Kevin O'Connell's mother died in his arms last year on the very night of the Oscars. He hopes his odds of winning might be better now.
"You know, I've had that opportunity 19 times now and this is my 20th and I hope someday I get the chance to thank her, even if she's up there, she'll hear me."