The 89th Annual Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, are airing live from Los Angeles on ABC

By Christopher Rosen and Julie Mazziotta
Updated February 27, 2017 12:44 AM
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It finally happened for Kevin O’Connell.

At Sunday night’s 89th annual Academy Awards, the veteran sound mixer won Best Sound Mixing for Hacksaw Ridge alongside Peter Grace, Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright. The victory is O’Connell’s first after 21 total nominations; until Sunday, O’Connell was the most-nominated person in Oscars history without a victory.

A jubilant O’Connell took to the stage and dedicated the big win to his mom, saying, “A special thank you tonight to my mother, Skippy O’Connell, who 39 years ago got me a job in sound.”

O’Connell continued, “And when I asked her how I could thank her, she told me, ‘You can work hard. You can work really hard, and someday you can win yourself an Oscar, and you can stand on the stage, and you can think me in front of the whole world.’ Mom, I know you’re looking down on me tonight, so thank you.”

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The excited O’Connell also thanked Hacksaw Ridge director Mel Gibson.

“Thank you so much, I can’t even tell you want this means to me,” he said. “This means so much I can’t even tell you. Mel Gibson, thank you for taking us on this journey with you.”

Born in New York on Long Island, the 59-year-old scored his first sound mixing nomination for Terms of Endearment. He’s earned multiple nominations for Tom Cruise films (Top Gun, Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men) as well as Michael Bay blockbusters (The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, Transformers). O’Connell was nominated for a Mel Gibson movie before, too, earning a citation for the director’s Apocalypto, Gibson’s last film before Hacksaw Ridge.

After heading into the press room, O’Connell told reporters at the Dolby Theatre this his win is “the greatest feeling in my entire life. It’s amazing.”

In an interview with NPR last week, O’Connell said he had stopped paying attention to his mounting nominations and losses. “I almost feel like this is like a rebirth for me at this point, you know?”

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Best Sound Mixing is one of two sound categories at the Academy Awards, along with Best Sound Editing. Sound mixing focuses on creating the audio mix of a film by using sounds recorded both on set and in post-production; sound editing involves the creation of sound elements (like the explosions in Hacksaw Ridge). More on both categories can be found here.

The 89th Annual Academy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, are airing live from Los Angeles on ABC.

  • With reporting by GABRIELLE OLYA