2012 Oscar Predictions: The Ever Important Film Editing Category

2012 Oscar predictions Film Editing
Berenice Bejo and Malcolm McDowell in The Artist
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

The Film Editing category is more interesting than you may initially imagine. The award for editing was first handed out in 1934 when it went to Eskimo. That year only three films were nominated, the other two were Cleopatra and One Night of Love. One film that was not nominated was Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night, which went on to win Best Picture along with four other Oscars. It also marked the first of nine times in 78 years that the film that eventually went on to win Best Picture was not nominated for Best Film Editing.

The other eight not to be nominated, but eventually won Best Picture were The Life of Emile Zola, Hamlet, Marty, Tom Jones, A Man for All Seasons, The Godfather, Part II (the only one in the trilogy not to be nominated for editing), Annie Hall and Ordinary People.

So, as you can see, the Film Editing category is far more telling than you may have initially assumed.

I also looked back over the last 11 years of Film Editing nominees and only three times were only two of the Best Picture nominees nominated for Film Editing and only once out of those three did the Best Picture winner not win (No Country for Old Men). But even more interesting, in the last three years 14 of the 15 nominees matched the Best Picture nominees, only The Dark Knight was nominated for Best Film Editing and not for Best Picture. If you recall, that was also the last year the Academy nominated only five films for Best Picture and had they nominated ten that year I’m pretty sure we’d be talking about 15 for the last 15.

So yes, since the Academy brought back the idea of ten nominees all five Film Editing nominees were also nominated for Best Picture, and while this year there can be anywhere from five to ten Best Picture nominees it only seems logical to expect those Film Editing nominees to match the Best Picture contenders, and yet, one of mine doesn’t.

Unfortunately, Oscar’s history matching up to the Best Picture contenders makes this a little anti-climactic and my predictions as of right now so closely match the nominees for the Critics Choice Awards even more intrigue is lost.

Of my current predictions the only film I have that does not match with the Critics Choice nominees is Kevin Tent for The Descendants over Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and his inclusion is largely based on the fact The Descendants is my #1 contender for Best Picture right now. I did, however, watch it again just yesterday and while it may not be the first film you think of when it comes to editing, Trent’s contributions are noticeable when you consider how subtle so much of the comedy in this film is; a lot of that depends on Trent’s cuts. The moment Matt King (George Clooney) slams on the brakes to yell at Sid comes to mind, the cutting of Julie’s arrival at the hospital or even Matt and Alexandra’s snooping around the Speer beach house. Editing isn’t always about the action sequences.

The only film I have among the nominees that I don’t believe will be nominated for Best Picture is Drive. Question is, who is the front-runner?

My bet is on 2011’s darling The Artist. Editing is incredibly important in a silent feature where you don’t have dialogue to help bail you out for emphasis. Each and every reaction must be registered for full effect, nothing can be off camera unless you’re cutting to it later for even more effect, and while Anne-Sophie Bion has never been nominated for an Oscar I get the feeling she may be winning her first time out.

Bion will, of course, have tough competition in six-time nominee and three-time winner Thelma Schoonmaker for Hugo and seven-time nominee and three-time winner Michael Kahn for War Horse right behind her.

Five times in the last 11 years (including last year) the Best Film Editing winner not gone on to win Best Picture so with me currently betting on The Artist to win Editing and The Descendants to win Picture I’m going entirely going against the grain.

Things will become more interesting in this category around January 13 when I expect the American Cinema Editors to offer up their nominations. It’s interesting to note that the last time a film won Best Picture without an ACE nomination was Ordinary People in 1981, something to keep in mind as we inch close to those nominations.

I have listed my current predictions directly below and you can click here for a look at my full field of tweleve contenders and where they rank.

  1. The Artist (Anne-Sophie Bion)
  2. Hugo (Thelma Schoonmaker)
  3. War Horse (Michael Kahn)
  4. Drive (Matthew Newman)
  5. The Descendants (Kevin Tent)
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