Academy Awards Project: Best Film Editing


This is the tale of the young hero who lived down the lane and had to find his way across the world through a traversing of burdens and chaos and the hero of which this is a tale about is important because you need to feel sympathetic about them and their name is something I may not remember right now oh right it is Patrick.

Editing is extremely important. That first paragraph was probably an absolute nightmare to go through. There was no breathing space created by punctuation. None of it made cohesive sense. The grammar was all off. Mediums that work with stories or any form of linearity need to be trimmed, whether they are articles, novels, video games, or films. Editing removes fluff: we don’t see awkward pauses or the small cases of bad acting a good scene might have, because they are trimmed out. Editing creates a pace for a film. Is the film going to be punchy, or smooth? Editing also creates an order. In fact, editing is so important, it can change a film entirely. We have some interesting nominees here, so let’s get to it (as editing would allow us). Here are the nominees for Best Film Editing, ranked from worst to best.


Biggest Snub: Widows
When we get to the Best Picture list, I will feature a few snubs as opposed to just one. Widows being shut out is absolutely insane (we will get more into that in due time). With its editing being dismissed, I feel like the film was entirely misunderstood. There is breathing room during long single shot takes that create tension amongst the more snappy scenes. It dabbles between the quickness of an action film, and the delicacy of an arthouse piece. The Academy missed many marks when it came to Widows, but best editing was certainly a main omission that did not need to happen.


5. Green Book-Patrick J. Don Vito
The editing in Green Book does the job, but that’s basically it. When Don Shirley bangs the piano keys during his performances, the film does dance almost in-time with the tracks. Aside from that, this is the kind of editing you would find in any film that knows what it is doing. That’s about it. It’s standard. Every cue feels right. None feels wrong. If any other film of the same caliber had this much awards race momentum, it would likely be here.


4. The Favourite-Yorgos Mavropsaridis
I obviously adore The Favourite, but the same can be said here. Once again, the editing is sharp. It acts like the only literal punchline with the many awkward moments that become comedic because of these cuts. A gun firing a blank goes off. The film cuts to the subject. It then cuts back to the person firing the gun. The joke is made. Use this logic for any part of the film. There are also long shots that are meant to evoke a particular realization; the close up of Queen Anne slowly becoming more uncomfortable during a dance routine is a nice touch. Aside from that, it’s standard, good film editing found in a great film (or, like in Green Book’s case, a film that has had a lot of awards race momentum).


3. BlacKkKlansman-Barry Alexander Brown
Here is an example of a film that does the exact quality necessary to be good, but then goes a little bit further and becomes great. When Ron Stallworth is on the phone, the film cuts between him and his subjects very cleanly. There are also the climactic moments, where the editing is absolutely crucial when it comes to how enticing these moments are. The editing allows the comedic moments to land, and the intense moments to sting. This is going the extra mile, and this is where the category actually becomes more about the editing work alone rather than the film it is attached to.


2. Bohemian Rhapsody-John Ottman
We’re starting to see why Bohemian Rhapsody could at least have been argued for the Best Picture spot: because it was able to (rightfully) rank up so many other minor categories. This is the kind of editing that will either annoy you, or you will fully be into (see the first ranked nominee for this notion to the extreme). The performances are enhanced by dynamic editing that almost feels like a music video has taken over the film. The duration of the film is cleanly cut with the bare essentials of what an edited film should feel like. The film thrives with its musical numbers (including the recording sessions), and then there is that very fluid Live Aid sequence. The editing here, for me, just works very well (one of the few things in the film that does).


1. Vice-Hank Corwin
You will either be in full agreement, or you will be very mad right now. Some films bask in their editing choices, and Vice is certainly one of them. The film cuts so many times (and with such drastic, contrasting pairings of shots), that you have to notice it. There is no seamlessness here, yet that is why Vice gets enhanced in the first place. Politics are not cut and dry. There is always grey area, despite having to fully lean one way during a campaign to garner voters. Once you are in the White House, everything is a big mess. The editing in Vice captures all of this; the quick banter, the manic minds, the pressure, and the changing pop cultures surrounding Dick Cheney’s various reigns. I am fully on board with the editing here (which just so happens to be one of the very few strengths the film has); out of the nominees, this is the best film editing work of the year.

Our Predicted Winner: I’m honestly expecting a big duking-out between Vice and Bohemian Rhapsody, with either or taking the win depending on the success they may experience (which can also heavily influence the Best Actor race, if you think about it).

Our Academy Awards Project is an ongoing series that will continue until all the categories have been ranked and reviewed. Tune in Monday to Saturday for a new category each day.

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Andreas Babiolakis has a Masters degree in Film and Photography Preservation and Collections management from Ryerson University, as well as a Bachelors degree in Cinema Studies from York University. His favourite times of year are the Criterion Collection flash sales and the annual Toronto International Film Festival.