Oscar Circuit: Best Film Editing

69155 best film editingAnd the Nominees Are:

The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Tied into the Best Picture race more than any other tech category is Best Film Editing. Scoring a Best Picture win without at least a nomination here, if not a win, is incredibly rare and almost unheard of. Of late, the field has been almost entirely filled with nominees for the top prize, but at times the Academy has seen fit to cite top notch action here as well. This year, 4 of the 5 nominees are also Best Picture contenders, and that makes this part of the race pretty interesting. We have last year’s winners in play again too (that’s the picture right here to the right, in case you were wondering), plus a legend in the industry at what she does. All this makes for a lot to take in and analyze, but I’m going to do my best! What may seem somewhat clear cut is not quite so, which makes this more fun, of course. Anyway, before we get too deep into it, let’s settle down for a bit of history, shall we?

Over the last 10 ceremonies or so, there’s been a bit of a sea change, as previously mentioned. The past couple of years have favored Best Picture nominees more and more, but that’s just for the nominations, not necessarily the winers, as you’ll see now. The previous winners have been The Social Network, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Departed, Crash, The Aviator, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Chicago, and Black Hawk Down. That’s still a 60% win rate for the Best Picture victor, but it’s not the lock some have thought that it is. What does that mean for this year, though? Well, let’s dive in and find out!

the artist logo1The Artist is the first nominee, and for most (including myself at the moment), it’s the likely frontrunner for the prize. The editors nominated are Anne-Sophie Bion and writer/director Michel Hazanavicius (also nominated for said writing and directing, while the former is enjoying her first dance with Oscar). Being the odds on favorite for Best Picture is something of an asset here, but as much as anything I think this could wind up being the Academy’s best chance to send Hazanavicius home with a statue. He’s got stiff competition from Martin Scorsese in the Best Director category (I flip-flop almost daily on that one personally), while I see Woody Allen a more likely victor than him in Best Original Screenplay. I don’t see The Artist not winning Best Picture, but he wouldn’t take home an Oscar personally for that. This is hardly to say that they won’t opt to go in another direction, but at the current moment I see this as being the safest bet in the category. Oscar voters could see things differently, but right now I don’t especially think that they do.

thedesc logoThe Descendants is the second film nominated here, and it’s more or less been left behind in this category. Now I think that the flick is incredibly deserving (and should have achieved more nominations than it was able to ultimately accrue), but the time has come and gone for any below the line recognition…in my regretful opinion, at least. The nominated editor is Kevin Trent, a first time nominee. Had The Descendants maintained its perch as a strong contender for Best Picture, the chances for a victory here would have been higher, but it’s unfortunately positioned as the second least likely of the group as it currently stands now.

dragon tattoo logoThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the third nominated film, and the real dark horse of this category, if there can really be one. Working in its favor is that this exact same team of editors are the defending Film Editing champions. For those who forgot, the nominees are Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, and this is now their third nomination as well. Part of the success of this flick lies in the technical precision that director David Fincher and his team brought to it, so there’s the chance that the Academy can really declare themselves on the Baxter/Wall gravy train. More likely though, this movie just missed getting a Best Picture nod and that will end up costing it in the end. We shall see though…

Hugo logo1Hugo is the fourth film up for the prize, and the second most likely to take it all the way. It’s the main competition for The Artist also in the Best Picture category, while boasting outstanding technical prowess…never a bad thing. The nominated editor is the legendary Thelma Schoonmaker, a 3 time Best Film Editing winner (and overall owner of 7 total nominations) and incredibly respected collaborator of Martin Scorsese’s. If Hugo shocks and wins Best Picture, it will be partially due to a win here. I still think it will ultimately go to The Artist both here and there, but an upset will begin here (and wouldn’t be undeserved at all), so keep that in mind.

Moneyball LogoMoneyball is the fifth and final nominee…and as much as I’d like to see it make a play here, this is the least likely winner of the bunch. The quality is certainly there, but the storyline hasn’t made the film a true contender anywhere except Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. The nominated editor is Christopher Tellefsen, a first time honoree this year. A few months ago Moneyball had a better chance here, but much like The Descendants, the time has mostly come and gone for it to be a major player. Alas…it’s just not meant to be.

As I see it (this is my article, after all) at the current moment, the race is between The Artist and Hugo, with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a potential spoiler. I’m going with The Artist and have a fair bit of confidence in that, but as you’ve read above…being a Best Picture winner or a nominee helps you out, but doesn’t guarantee victory. This leaves Hugo and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo still in the race…but I’m sticking with The Artist. I’m not promising anything, but I have a feeling this one will come to pass when all is said and done.

Prediction: The Artist

Snubbed: Beginners, Drive, The Ides of March, Red State, and Shame

Thoughts? Discuss on the Forum!

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Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.


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I actually rank Editing as an equally big snubbed for Drive, what a wonderfully paced film that was. A true shame.


I think it’s going to be ‘The Artist’ v/s ‘Hugo’. The editors of ‘Dragon Tattoo’ won the Oscar last year for ‘The Social Network’, so I don’t think the Academy would like to give them the Oscar (again) this year. And even if they do end up winning, everybody will be asking the same question,”If a film can win for Best Editing, how come it’s NOT even nominated for Best Picture??” If you’re NOMINATED for Best Pic (you don’t win), but you win Editing, that’s fine (as it happened last year). But how do you justify a situation in which… Read more »


Another question occurred to me: Can a film win Best Picture WITHOUT an Editing nomination? Case in point: Does ‘The Help’ have a chance of winning Best Pic without even receiving an Editing nomination? Or am I overplaying the importance of the Editing category?

Last year, it seemed as if the five films nominated for Editing, (127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, The Social Network), were actually chosen from the Best Pic nominees!!



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