Oscar Predictions

2012 Oscar Predictions: The Ever Important Film Editing Category

Want to win Best Picture? Then you want to be nominated here...

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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  • gripmonster

    1. The Artist
    2. Hugo
    3. War Horse
    4. The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo
    5. The Descendents

    This is one of the technical awards that always comes close to Best Picture since 80-90% of the voters aren't familiar enough with the editing process to tell when a film is well edited or not.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Nominations are made by the individual branches, not the entire Academy. So in Editing, 224 people are voting for nominees.

  • m1

    I honestly think Moneyball and The Tree of Life deserve to be nominated in this category.

  • Travis

    I have The Artist, War Horse, Hugo, Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Tree of Life (not necessarily in that order) for my nominees

  • Carson Dyle

    Tintin should be winning this category, but it'll never happen.

  • SP1234

    I would say Dragon Tattoo should be the one to beat. They handled the parallel stories between the two leads incredibly and the same thing in a certain segment of the film where they split up Lisbeth's investigations and Blomkvist infiltrating Martin Vanger's house. It's a carefully structered area of the film (about 15-25 minutes), but the way the edited back and forth and ultimately when all of those story points collide I thought was brilliantly handled.

  • Lewis

    Moneyball is a good mention for Editing. great film. also, The Descendants is NOT Alexander Payne's best film. What's all this hoopla over the film? Yes, it is good, but Sideways was better, and that didn't win. With the Oscars, it comes down to two things: timing and popularity.

  • Ian

    I think the biggest question in this category is whether or not The Descendants gets nominated. It's definitely not a film where the editing stands out obviously, but for it to have a chance at Best Picture, it basically has to be nominated here. Of course I still think The Artist is going to win Best Picture, but I still have The Descendants getting nominated here, though it's far from a lock. The Artist is probably the only true lock, though War Horse and Hugo are very strong bets. If The Descendants gets in that leaves on slot, though I'd expect Dragon Tattoo to get it over Drive. Wouldn't be surprised to see The Tree of Life grab it either.

  • Mikey Sylwer

    Actually, I'm pretty sure that there is a rule in the academy that states if a film is not nominated in the Editing category, then it may not win in the Best Picture category.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Ha, no.

      • Mikey Sylwer

        Oh ok, because I remember hearing that a while back from the fellows at Goldderby.

  • http://www.movie-place.blogspot.com Satish Naidu

    It would be terrific if you could explain just a little bit why did you choose these titles. I mean, the number of nominations and the history is all fine, but what exactly makes you think the "editing" is brilliant in each of these cases.

    If you could start by why you have The Tree of Life at #9, this would be a terrific post we all can take something from.


  • John

    My votes would go to:

    1. Mission Impossible 4
    2. Source Code
    3. Captain America
    4. Contagion
    5. Insidious

  • Scott

    The editing in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was brilliant. And this might make me sound shallow, but so be it: I love over-the-top flashy editing (not saying Dragon Tattoo was like that). Ang Lee's Hulk, Snatch, Ocean's 11, Man on Fire, Scott Pilgrim vs the World. A lot of people get irritated when the editing is so obvious, but I look at those movies more as visual poetry than a marred documentary. The craft of seamless editing that flows by unnoticed is great and everything, but I'm a sucker for in-your-face artistry.

  • Bry

    Dude, the name is TENT not Trent.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Just a typo, it was correct at the bottom with the actual prediction. Simmer down DUDE.