Editors Guild Selects 75 Best Edited Films of All Time

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Best Edited movies of all time
Robert De Niro in Raging Bull
Photo: MGM

Now this is a list that could result in a lot of fascinating dissection and thanks to HitFix it comes to our attention almost three years after it was originally released back in 2012, celebrating the Motion Picture Editors Guild‘s 75th anniversary. Over at HitFix, Kris Tapley asks, “Is this news to anyone else?” Um, yes, I find it immensely interesting and a perfect starting point for anyone looking to further explore the art of film editing.

In an accompanying article we get the particulars concerning what films were eligible and how films were to be considered:

In our JAN-FEB 12 issue, we asked Guild members to vote on what they consider to be the Best Edited Films of all time. Any feature-length film from any country in the world was eligible. And by “Best Edited,” we explained, we didn’t just mean picture; sound, music and mixing were to be considered as well. Members could submit up to 10 film titles, numbered in order of preference. From those votes, we compiled the resulting list, weighting the films accordingly, and arrived at the 75 you will find in the following pages.

Statistically speaking, we get the following breakdown when it comes to years, directors and editors cited:

The Years

  1. 1970s – 17 films
  2. 1990s – 16 films
  3. 1960s – 13 films
  4. 1950s – 8 films
  5. 2000s – 7 films
  6. 1980s – 5 films
  7. 1940s – 3 films

No films from the ’30s were selected and four years account for 3 films each on the list: 1969, 1974, 1999 and 2001. The winning year is 1974, with all 3 of its titles in the top 31 films.

The Directors

  1. 5 Films – Alfred Hitchcock
  2. 4 Films – Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola
  3. 3 Films – Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese
  4. 2 Films – Terrence Malick, Bob Fosse, William Friedkin, Akira Kurosawa, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Steven Soderbergh, Orson Welles and Bob Wise

The Editors

  1. 4 Films – George Tomasini
  2. 3 Films – Dede Allen, Michael Kahn and Thelma Schoonmaker
  3. 2 Films – Richard Chew, Anne V. Coates, Gerald B. Greenberg, Akira Kurosawa, Ray Lovejoy, Craig McKay, Sam O’Steen, Jay Rabinowitz, William Reynolds, Daniel Rezende, Pietro Scalia, Billy Weber and Peter Zinner

Greenberg is the only editor to have 2 films — Apocalypse Now and The French Connection — place in the top 10; Schoonmaker has 2 — Raging Bull and Goodfellas — in the top 15, Chew has 2 — The Conversation and Star Wars — in the top 16, and Allen has 2 — Bonnie And Clyde and Dog Day Afternoon — in the top 20.

Finally, to the films, and thanks to HitFix for providing the list in an easy to digest format. It would be interesting to look over the list and see how many of these films missed out on an Oscar nomination or ended up losing to one not listed. As Tapley points out, Lee Smith‘s work on Christopher Nolan‘s Inception lands at #35 on the list and yet it wasn’t nominated for an Editing Oscar.

I’m sure there are interesting little factoids to be found all over the place here, so have a look for yourself and if you want a little more info specifically on the top five, check out the accompanying article right here.

Looking at the list below, what stands out most to you? Anything you would argue is missing?

The Films

  1. Raging Bull (Thelma Schoonmaker, 1980)
  2. Citizen Kane (Robert Wise, 1941)
  3. Apocalypse Now (Lisa Fruchtman, Gerald B. Greenberg, Walter Murch, 1979)
  4. All That Jazz (Alan Heim, 1979)
  5. Bonnie and Clyde (Dede Allen, 1967)
  6. The Godfather (William H. Reynolds, Peter Zinner, 1972)
  7. Lawrence of Arabia (Anne V. Coates, 1962)
  8. Jaws (Verna Fields, 1975)
  9. JFK (Pietro Scalia, Joe Hutshing, 1991)
  10. The French Connection (Gerald B. Greenberg, 1971)
  11. The Conversation (Richard Chew, 1974)
  12. Psycho (George Tomasini, 1960)
  13. Battleship Potemkin (Grigori Aleksandrov, Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
  14. Memento (Dody Dorn, 2000)
  15. Goodfellas (James Y. Kewi, Thelma Schoonmaker, 1990)
  16. Star Wars (Richard Chew, T.M. Christopher, Marcia Lucas, George Lucas, Paul Hirsch, 1977)
  17. City of God (Cidade de Deus) (Daniel Rezende, 2002)
  18. Pulp Fiction (Sally Menke, 1994)
  19. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Ray Lovejoy, 1968)
  20. Dog Day Afternoon (Dede Allen, 1975)
  21. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Michael Kahn, 1981)
  22. The Godfather Part II (Barry Malkin, Richard Marks, Peter Zinner, 1974)
  23. The Wild Bunch (Lou Lombardo, 1969)
  24. Saving Private Ryan (Michael Kahn, 1998)
  25. The Matrix (Zach Staenberg, 1999)
  26. The Silence of the Lambs (Craig McKay, 1991)
  27. Breathless (À Bout De Soufflé) (Cécile Decugis, 1960)
  28. Fight Club (James Haygood, 1999)
  29. Requiem for a Dream (Jay Rabinowitz, 2000)
  30. Cabaret (David Bretherton, 1972)
  31. Chinatown (Sam O’Steen, 1974)
  32. Moulin Rouge! (Jill Bilcock, 2001)
  33. Seven Samurai (Koichi Iwashita, Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
  34. Casablanca (Owen Marks, 1942)
  35. Inception (Lee Smith, 2010)
  36. Rope (William H. Zeigler, 1948)
  37. Schindler’s List (Michael Kahn, 1993)
  38. West Side Story (Thomas Stanford, 1961)
  39. The Fugitive (Dan Brochu, David Finfer, Dean Goodhil, Dov Hoenig, Richard Nord, Dennis Virkler, 1993)
  40. A Clockwork Orange (Bill Butler, 1971)
  41. 8 ½ (Leo Cattozzo, 1963)
  42. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Sheldon Kahn, Lynzee Klingman, 1975)
  43. Reds (Dede Allen, Craig McKay1981)
  44. The Shining (Ray Lovejoy, 1980)
  45. Days of Heaven (Billy Weber, 1978)
  46. Ben-Hur (Margaret Booth, John Dunning, Ralph E. Winters, 1959)
  47. Vertigo (George Tomasini, 1958)
  48. Apollo 13 (Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill, 1995)
  49. Rear Window (George Tomasini, 1954)
  50. Touch of Evil (Edward Curtiss, Walter Murch, Aaron Stell, Virgil W. Vogel, 1958)
  51. Living Russia (“Man with a Camera) (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
  52. The Graduate (Sam O’Steen, 1967)
  53. Out of Sight (Anne V. Coates, 1998)
  54. High Noon (Elmo Williams, 1952)
  55. Black Hawk Down (Pietro Scalia, 2001)
  56. Titanic (Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris, 1997)
  57. The Limey (Sarah Flack, 1999)
  58. The Exorcist (Norman Gay, Jordan Leondopoulos, Bud S. Smith, Evan A. Lottman, 1973)
  59. Annie Hall (Wendy Greene Bricmont, Ralph Rosemblum, 1977)
  60. Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
  61. Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, Roy B. Yokelson, 1924)
  62. Speed (John Wright, 1994)
  63. L.A. Confidential (Peter Honess, 1997)
  64. The Sound of Music (William H. Reynolds, 1965)
  65. The Tree of Life (Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa, 2011)
  66. The Bourne Ultimatum (Christopher Rouse, 2007)
  67. Z (Françoise Bonnot, 1969)
  68. A Hard Day’s Night (John Jympson, 1964)
  69. Hugo (Thelma Schoonmaker, 2011)
  70. Midnight Cowboy (Hugh A. Robertson, 1969)
  71. Miller’s Crossing (Michael R. Miller, 1990)
  72. Blade Runner (Gillian L. Hutshing, Marsha Nakashima, Terry Rawlings, 1982)
  73. Mulholland Dr. (Mary Sweeney, 2001)
  74. Rocky (Scott Conrad, Richard Halsey, 1976)
  75. North by Northwest (George Tomasini, 1959)