2016 Oscar Circuit: Best Film Editing


Welcome to our annual Oscar Circuit series, our deep down look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Circuit 2016. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your predicted winners in the comment section too!

Best Film Editing is a curious Oscar category. Statistically conjoined with the eventual Best Picture winner (at least for a nomination), it doesn’t always result in a win for the winning film. Dating back to 2005, however, only 5 of the 10 Best Picture winners have won in this category, only 9 have been nominated, and a scant 1 of the last 5 winners has coupled itself with Best Picture. Indeed, the winners in this category can range from frantic editing, to tight scene transitions, to docu-drama, to you-cut-our-favorite-movie. It should be noted that of this category’s six nominated editors, HALF are women.

And the Nominees Are:

  • The Big Short (Hank Corwin)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)
  • The Revenant (Stephen Mirrione)
  • Spotlight (Tom McArdle)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey)

Just Happy To Be Here:


Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey)

No one was more excited then me to see JJ Abrams‘ two editing queens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, get a nomination for cutting Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Their on-screen achievement is impressive–making actions scenes flow lyrically while balancing with more character-driven moments, all for a sub-2.5 hour clip. Their off-screen achievement, depending on whom you believe, is almost more impressive. This is the franchise’s first film editing nomination since A New Hope‘s back in 1977.


Spotlight (Tom McArdle)

After a somewhat surprising ACE Eddie snub, many thought perhaps the balanced, subdued editing of Spotlight would result in no Oscar nomination for its film editor, Tom McArdle. Thankfully, the film editing branch was wise enough to celebrate Spotlight‘s editing. Were this 20 years ago and Spotlight were sweeping every Best Picture prize on earth, perhaps its relaxed editing would nevertheless get a win, but the industry’s seemingly frigid embrace of the film coupled with more action-y and flashily edited films in competition, McArdle will be happy with just a nomination.

Watch Out For:


The Revenant (Stephen Mirrione)

Typically, I wouldn’t be too concerned about a film that lost Best Film Editing at ACE Drama and BAFTA upsetting in Best Film Editing at the Oscars.  And yet, I have such doubts. Whether you’ve drunk the DEFCON 5 ZOMG-The-Revenant-Gonna-Sweep Kool-Aid or you think it’ll maybe top out at 4 wins, one thing is undeniable: The Revenant doing shockingly well on the circuit. It all started with a surprising win for Best Director and Best Picture – Drama at the Golden Globes…then a wowza DGA upset, giving Alejandro G. Inarritu the first back-to-back wins in DGA history…then its epic BAFTA win. If a film is pencilled in for Best Actor, Best Director, a few tech races, and maybe Best Picture, it seems reasonable Best Editing might tag along. Would be a nice coup for former winner Stephen Mirrione after being unceremoniously snubbed last year for Birdman.

The Frontrunners:


The Big Short (Hank Corwin)

Plenty of glib things have been said about Hank Corwin‘s work on The Big Short. Mostly, it’s been shallow “well, it certainly has the MOST EDITING, hardy har har.” If you can’t appreciate the docu-drama, lived-in editing style that Corwin has masterfully crafted around the Wall Street drama, then it’s your loss. Director Adam McKay tasked Corwin with a crazy tritecta balancing act: make the drama work, make the comedy work, and make all the financial stuff flow. Corwin walked away with the ACE Comedy prize. Coupled with The Big Short’s PGA win and assured Best Adapted Screenplay win, if the film an challenge for Best Picture, many think it could take editing with it. It’d be a handsome winner.



Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)

Like all of the tech achievements of Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel‘s film editing is some master class work. Be it the tension-packed first act (and second act and third act…and well, the whole movie) or the frame-removing frantic cutting of many action sequences, Sixel helps the crazy world of Mad Max be reborn on screen. In a movie so packed with action, Sixel balances the tender moments with the high-octane thrills. If you believe what you hear, too, her husband, director George Miller, delivered her quite a bit of film to dig through to piece together a brisk 120 minute thrill ride. On the stat side, Sixel has won the ACE Drama and the BAFTA prize, a combination that hasn’t failed to produce an Oscar win since Gladiator lost this category in 2000.


Will Win: Margaret Sixel’s frantic, manic, yet cooly restrained and structured work should do the trick, despite a lack of above-the-line heat, Mad Max: Fury Road has managed to win both ACE and BAFTA.

Could Win: The Big Short

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Have Been Nominated and Won in A Walk: Claudia Castello and Michael P. Shawver for their baller work on Creed.