Monday, September 26, 2022

What Is Going To Win Best Film Editing At The Oscars?

By Will Mavity 

In recent years, the Oscar category for Best Film Editing has proved to be one of year’s the biggest head-scratchers. Every year, there are consistent shocking snubs. This year it was “Mank,” last year it was “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and the year before that, the trifecta of “Roma,” “A Star Is Born,” and “First Man.”

Generally, though, the nominees end up lining up with whichever films the Academy likes best across the board. There’s a reason that – excluding the one-take “Birdman” – no film has won Best Picture without an editing nomination since 1980. Despite that correlation, unlike when predicting the nominees, when predicting the winner of the editing Oscar, it’s not as simple as picking the Best Picture frontrunner, though that can certainly help.

The entire Academy chooses the editing winner, not just the editors. So a random actor or production designer might think “best editing” means “lots of editing.” When in doubt, look for what editing people are likely to notice.

Every editing winner this century can be lumped into one (or more) of the following categories:

Best Picture Winners
“Argo”
“The Hurt Locker”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“The Departed”
Crash”
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
“Chicago”

Suspenseful Thrillers
Whiplash”
“Argo”
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
“The Departed”
“Traffic”

Action/War Films
Ford v Ferrari
Dunkirk
Hacksaw Ridge
Mad Max: Fury Road
“Gravity”
“The Hurt Locker”
“The Bourne Ultimatum”
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
“Black Hawk Down”

Multiple Concurrent Storylines and/or Frequent Flashbacks
Dunkirk”
“Argo”
The Social Network”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“The Departed”
Crash”
“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”
“Black Hawk Down”
“Traffic”

Rapid-Fire Cutting With Lots Of Angles
Ford v Ferrari
Bohemian Rhapsody
Dunkirk
Mad Max: Fury Road
Whiplash
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
The Social Network
“The Hurt Locker”
“Slumdog Millionaire”
“The Bourne Ultimatum”
“The Departed”
“The Aviator”
“Chicago”
“Black Hawk Down”


​There’s not a “subtly” edited film among them. Additionally, there are other consistent trends: No film has won the editing Oscar without a nomination from the American Cinema Editors (ACE) since the 1960s. This year, four out of the five Nominees were ACE nominees. Only “
The Father” missed a nomination.

Additionally, 27 out of the last 30 Editing winners had corresponding sound nominations. Doubt this correlation at your own peril! In 2014, “Boyhood” was perceived as the frontrunner for the editing Oscar, only to lose to Sound winner “Whiplash.” Similarly, last year, “Parasite” was the editing frontrunner but ultimately lost to Sound winner “Ford v Ferrari.” Out of this year’s editing nominees, only “Sound of Metal” has a sound nomination.

Of the only three films to win Best Editing without a Sound nomination, two benefitted from being Best Picture winners (“The Departed” and “Crash“). The only film that lacked a sound nomination and was not a Best Picture winner was “Traffic,” which likely missed winning Best Picture by an inch based on its Director and Screenplay wins.

So, basically: God help you if you aren’t a sound nominee nor the likely Best Picture winner.

This year, the sound trend could be disrupted, however. In the past, the sound correlation has remained strong because there were two sound categories. Thus, there was a greater likelihood that the editing winner could get into at least one sound category. Who knows if “The Trial of the Chicago 7” or “Nomadland” might have made it into one of the sound categories had the academy not combined the two.

Finally, editing wins rarely happen alone. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” was the most recent ‘lone’ editing winner. But before that, you have to go back to 1968 to find a film that won Best Editing and nothing else. So, if you’re making your predictions and you’re predicting a film to win editing and nothing else, history says that’s probably not a great call. 

Knowing these trends, how do each of the Best Film Editing nominee’s chances look?

​”The Father”
The killer here is no ACE Nom. There’s no reason for the film not to have received an ACE nomination, mainly when Sony Pictures Classics vigorously targeted ACE members with its campaign. On the plus side, “The Father” may win the BAFTA for editing. BAFTA has historically been a strong predictor for editing winners (“Whiplash” and “Hacksaw Ridge” won there before their “surprise” Oscar wins). On the other hand, BAFTA has a British bias with these wins sometimes (“Baby Driver“), and thus, if “The Father” wins, it could be due to that.

Additionally, the editing in “The Father” is very showy in the sense that the editing is the heart of the film, transforming it into a horror film of sorts. On the other hand, the editing isn’t showy in the way some voters think of: The film is not faced paced and doesn’t have frequent cuts. 

Finally, “The Father” likely isn’t winning anything else (maybe Adapted Screenplay, but that remains to be seen). A lone editing win here would defy history, especially when the film wasn’t nominated for Sound. 

“Nomadland”
Nomadland” isn’t the flashiest of the editing nominees, but it may be flashy enough. The film’s frequent montages and extended timeline certainly scream “editing.” At the same time, the leisurely paced film isn’t as overtly edited as, say, “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” but it may not need to be.

The film is the Best Picture frontrunner. Of course, a win for editing means Chloe Zhao likely wins four Oscars (she edited the film), and maybe voters don’t want to give her four in a single night. But since editors’ names aren’t listed on Oscar ballots, it’s a possibility that many voters won’t even know Zhao edited the film. 

There’s still the no sound nomination hang-up. But given the film’s BAFTA Sound nomination, it seems entirely possible it was very close to getting a sound nomination.

“Promising Young Woman”
Promising Young Woman” isn’t in the “look at me!” flashy editing with lots of cuts category of films that often win here, but taught thrillers often perform well (“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” & “Argo”). It will likely win the Comedy ACE category and could easily take the BAFTA as well. ACE and BAFTA is a hell of a combo going into the Oscars. Additionally, it will likely win one or two Oscars, so it wouldn’t be a lone Best Film Editing winner. Of course, if you predict the film to win Actress, Screenplay, and Editing, suddenly, that seems like it might make sense to predict it to win Best Picture, which seems unlikely at this point.

“Sound of Metal”
As the lone Sound nominee in this category, and the likely Best Sound winner at that, “Sound of Metal” has a good argument in its favor based on history for predicting it to win the whole thing. The only hang-up is that the film’s editing isn’t the flashy, cut-heavy sort that often wins the category. It’s very restrained and internal. Still, it tied for the win at the Critics Choice Award for editing, so it’s already triumphed with one organization. If it wins ACE over “Nomadland” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” then watch out.

“The Trial of the Chicago 7”
The Trial of the Chicago 7” far and away feels like the most obvious Best Film Editing winner based on the types of films that usually win this category. Between the film’s opening sequence, where the editing introduces us to each character as they finish each other’s sentences, to the film’s flashback structure and its general fast-paced cutting, it is the most overtly edited. However, the film’s momentum has plummeted. As it stands now, it’s likely not winning any other awards. And as I said earlier, the lone Best Film Editing win is unusual. My gut wants to predict this one based on its flashy nature, but history says probably not.

In short, who is winning? I genuinely have no idea. Probably “Sound of Metal,” “Nomadland,” or “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” ACE and BAFTA will offer some guidance, but this is one category where we truly are going in blind. The BAFTA awards will be this weekend while the ACE Eddie Awards will be held on April 17th. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Twitter account and be sure to check out our current Oscar predictions here

You can follow Will and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @mavericksmovies

Will Mavity
Will Mavityhttps://nextbestpicture.com
Loves Awards Season, analyzing stats & conducting interviews. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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