Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October Oscar Updates: Film Editing

…and while we’re at it, let’s take a look at 2011.  Seriously, I wasn’t going to dedicate a ‘Closer Look’ post to mere film editing (well, it’s not ‘mere’ but whatever) and then I decided that really, the best way to gage the race this year is to take a look at years past anyways.
In order to get a Film Editing nomination, you need one of two things (or both of them).  You either need to be a Best Picture contender or have really flashy editing.  If you have both then you’ll probably win.  Sadly, the whole ‘Best Picture’ candidate trumps almost all else and so there are times when you’ll get really lazy nominations with no real merit whatsoever. 
Let’s just take a look at 2011 to see what I’m talking about.
‘The Descendants’ was an extremely lazy nomination.  To say that this was nominated for any reason other than the fact that it was in the top three vying for the Best Picture title is absurd.  How was this inspired editing?  How did the film’s editing progress the storytelling at all?  It didn’t.  It was competent, but no more competent than the editing of ‘The Help’.  It was basically just there.  If they wanted to nominate a dramedy with editing that was integral to the storytelling process, why not embrace ‘Young Adult’, a gutsy edit that truly gutted the film of all excess and delivered one strong scene after another.  What about ‘Beginners’ (my personal winner)?  Talk about an inspired job, finding new and interesting ways to tell a story.  Instead, we get a blandly constructed filler nomination.
So, I have a feeling that this year’s ‘Descendants’ is ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, so…it’ll probably get nominated here.
‘Hugo’, for me, was probably the worst of the nominated in this particular category, and I’ll tell you why.  It was a far better movie than ‘The Descendants’, but it failed to do the one thing that the editing is supposed to do; keep the film focused.  I mean, ‘Hugo’ was about twenty minutes too long and those were twenty minutes they could have easily trimmed.  In fact, there were whole subplots that could have been gutted entirely.  Sure, the film was charming and delightful and fun, but the end was stuffy and uneven and the film really could have used some tighter cuts.
The remaining three nominees were all commendable.
‘The Artist’ was a smart nomination (albeit an obvious one) since it really utilized the editing in a way to maintain the film’s tone.  It realized that the pacing was so important to keep the jovial feeling of the film and it managed to do that marvelously.  It was fun and sparky and it truly owed a lot of that to the magical way it was cut.  The Oscar winner, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, is a surprising case of style trumping the ‘Best Picture’ clause.  ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ is a very commendable nomination and I wholly endorse the win (even though it is not my personal favorite of the nominees) because it uses that aggressive nature to push the film forward.  You can see each cut but it makes a difference in the flow of the film.  Sadly though, there were other films that used this same technique even better and were completely snubbed (‘Drive’).  The reason for that is obvious; ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ was much closer to a Best Picture nomination.
And then we have ‘Moneyball’.  Honestly, this should have won.  When you consider the way that this story was told and the way that the different aspects (the sports, the man, the family, the weighty decisions, the politics, the math) were all handled and the way they all flowed so organically and richly, there really is no denying how deserving this film would have been.
So, that is the long way around to getting to where we initially started; this year’s race.
I think we’re looking at easy nominations for ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Argo’.  ‘Argo’ is probably going to be flashy to boot, and it is up there in the ranks of Best Picture.  ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, like I mentioned, is going to get in ‘The Descendants’ style. 
1)      Argo
2)      Les Miserables
3)      Silver Linings Playbook
And then that brings us to a slew of possibilities for two spots.  I mean, you have ‘The Master’, ‘Flight’, ‘The Impossible’ and ‘Lincoln’ looking good as Best Picture candidates, and that means a lot.  I’m thinking it’ll be either ‘Flight’ or ‘The Impossible’, both of which look like strong contenders in other categories as well (especially in the techs).  For now, I’m going with ‘The Impossible’, but once ‘Flight’ opens I could change my mind.
4)      The Impossible
And then we have that spot reserved for something really flashy.  ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and ‘Django Unchained’ are two primary candidates for that spot.  There really is no basis for this prediction, at this point, other than a gut feeling and my gut says that ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is going to be undeniable here.
5)      Zero Dark Thirty
So that’s it for this category.  What do you think of my analysis?  On the money or way off?  Who are you predicting?  Oh, and my Film Editing ballots for 1991, 2009 and 2011 are up on their respective pages.


  1. Yes! Moneyball all the way. And completely agree on Beginners and Young Adult being more deserving than The Descendants.

    My winner would be Senna. It's an obvious choice, but deserving I think.

    I agree Argo and Les Mis seem locked. The rest I'm not sure about. Zero Dark Thirty is baity, but I'm waiting for critical reception.

    Great wins for Kieslowski and T2.

    Glad Audiard got a director nod, and (500) Days had terrific editing.

    Solid 2011 editing lineup. Love the Contagion and Hanna mentions too.

    1. Thanks Josh!

      I haven't seen Senna yet, but I've heard the editing is great.

      Yeah, after Les Mis and Argo...and Silver Linings (totally a Descendants moment) I'm a little up in the air. I'm actually thinking that I should have included Flight in my predictions. I have a feeling that film will be bigger than initially expected. It's closing out NYFF, which is always a good sign, and the R rating has me even more confident since it is obviously darker than the trailer suggests. Those who have read the script say that it is a really strong character piece wrapped around the plane crash.

      2011 was a bounty in this category.

    2. Definitely check out Senna. It's my #11 from last year.