Categories One-by-One: Editing

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Postby Sabin » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:39 pm

As for Crash, not only do I not get its Best Picture win, I don't get its editing win.


And a weak-ass year. Wasn't gonna be Cinderella Man, The Constant Gardener, or Walk the Line. Films that win that are not nominated for Best Picture that win in this category are The Matrix, The Bourne Ultimatum, and Black Hawk Down...the Most Editing. Best Picture nominees include examples of cross-cutting (Traffic, Crash, The Departed), epics (Return of the King, Aviator), and musical sequencing (Chicago, Slumdog Millionaire). What these films have in common is that they have what I'm going to refer to as a shit ton of editing. To be honest, I think that even if The Hurt Locker wasn't nominated for Best Picture (and in any other year, that may very well have been the case) it would still win for Best Film Editing.

I'm absolutely flabbergasted that Up in the Air was not nominated for Best Film Editing. Not because it's one of the best edited films of the year (outside of Hurt Locker, none of these films are), but because it's such a competently edited comedy (ah-hah) with an eye for sequences. You can't really hold the editing choices against the editors. Those are clearly Lee Daniels' ideas, and there are some nice rhythms in the film, but Precious' editing choices are pretty evil. Like, evil. How anybody could think it's one of the best edited films is absolutely beyond me. I can understand Inglourious Basterds. There is a lot of tension in those scenes. But Precious' nomination over Up in the Air makes no sense.

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Postby Big Magilla » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:32 pm

There's no hard and fast rule that says a film can't win Best Picture without an editing nomination, but more often than not the year's best edited film is also the year's best film even if the Academy doesn't always agree - only 31out of 75 winners of the editing award have won Best Picture since its inception.

As for Crash, not only do I not get its Best Picture win, I don't get its editing win. To me, the cuts are obvious. Good editing should be seamless. It shouldn't draw attention to itself like the ghastly cuts in Precious. Eggs frying indeed!

The editing in The Hurt Locker is one of its chief virtues. It should and will win here.
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Postby ITALIANO » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:29 pm

The Hurt Locker needs this award if it wants to still have some chances for Best Picture. I can see a movie winning only Picture, Director and Editing (a la Rocky), but only Picture and Director (or Picture, Director and, say, Sound)? Less easy.

If The Hurt Locker wins, it might still not win Best Picture, but if it fails here, then it's going to be Avatar (or something else) at the end of the night. But I'm sure this will go to The Hurt Locker.

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Postby OscarGuy » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:12 pm

Well, as one of the people who brings up the Editing meme, I'll defend it here. You make it sound like prior to 1980, it was quite frequent when, in actuality, it wasn't that often.

Since the category started in 1934, only 9 films have won Best Picture without an editing nomination. That's an 88% success rate. I would hardly call that an inconsequential number.

And to put that in further perspective, only TWO other categories have a better correlation (of the Best Picture being among the nominees): Director: 96.3% (missed 3 times), and the writing categories 92.59% (missed 6 times). And just below editing are the acting categories at 86.42% (missing 11 times).

So, you can dismiss the claim all you wish in hopes that it will somehow make the job of predicting best picture less predictable, but you can't entirely disregard it. The evidence is fairly compelling, IMO.

And, for the record, I don't use the editing nomination as reason why Brokeback lost Best Picture, but as one of the factors that should have forewarned us of the inevitability.
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Postby Mister Tee » Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:48 pm

Okay, another spot where I've seen all the nominees.

Best achievement in film editing:

District 9
The Hurt Locker
Inglourious Basterds

Side angle on the topic: There are many reasons I'd like to see Up in the Air win best picture (chiefly, it's my favorite among the plausible winners), but one would definitely be to shut up all the people who ritually intone "No movie since Ordinary People has won best picture without an editing nomination". This irks me chiefly because it was first propounded by Crash supporters tying to explain away the Crash debacle...but also because I hate anything that makes predicting more set in stone. (And because, in the years prior to Ordinary People, Annie Hall, Godfather II, A Man for All Seasons and Tom Jones all were non-nominees for editing, so it's not exactly a lifetime rule).

Anyway...the Up in the Air exclusion opened the door to Precious, but I don't think anyone sees that film as a contender here. The imagination-cutaways -- the most obvious instances of editing -- are in fact among the film's worst elements.

District 9 is very sharply edited, especially during that exciting first half hour, but it's not viewed as a special enough movie to move past the best picture candidates who traditionally dominate the category.

Inglourious Basterds is kind of an odd prospect here, in that one of the gripes about the film was how two sequences -- the farmhouse and rathskeller -- went on for what seemed an eternity. Now, you can make the case that keeping the film gripping despite this is evidence of some sort of editing prowess...but it would be beyond the normal tendency of this category, which has favored quick-cut chases, battles and prize-fights.

Avatar has its battle scenes, which will put it in the hunt for this prize, but should a movie that even some fans think is too long be winning for editing? Then again, as Michael Gebert has pointed out, the historic correlation of best picture with editing has meant a great many editing winners have been the longest films in their category. I think Avatar has a shot, if Oscar voters decide to give it a clean sweep in techs.

But my bet is The Hurt Locker. The ongoing "will the bomb go off now?" tension is the essence of the film (and what made it excruciating for me), and editing will no doubt get much of the credit for that. After director, this is the category in which I most expect Hurt Locker to triumph, regardless of how it does beyond that.

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