Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars 2011: Film Editing

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.

BEST FILM EDITING


1. The Social Network

2. Black Swan

3. 127 Hours

4. The Fighter

5. The King’s Speech

Missing: Inception

As with his composer, A.R. Rahman, you know when you’re watching a Danny Boyle film — and a lot of that has to do with his signature editorial storytelling, headed this time by editor Jon Harris (Snatch, Kick-ass, Layer Cake).  127 Hours deftly, and rather beautifully, transitions from claustrophobic caves to dream sequences and back again.  Black Swan‘s editing by Andrew Weisblum stands out for its intimate understanding of — and respect for — the horror genre (how often can you say that about an Oscar nominee?).  Employing tricks of the trade, Weisblum and Aronofsky’s primary focus was always on ballerina Nina’s subjectivity, how she obsessively perceived herself — sometimes accurately, but often with paranoia — and the film seamlessly engages the two, constantly and quite remarkably blurring the lines between realism and impressionism. The result is an enormously distressing,  frightening, and overwhelming film.

I have no idea why The Fighter or The King’s Speech are represented here — neither relies heavily on editing to tell its respective story and certainly neither stands out in this area. The real surprise is that the uber-ambitious action flick Inception didn’t make the cut for its dreamy cross-cutting.

Widely acknowledged as the front-runner, David Fincher’s The Social Network, tells what could have been an uber-dull and ungainly (nerdy kids typing away on keyboards) story into one of the most exhilarating films of the year. Sure, Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue helps as well, but it’s Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter’s expert flashes back and forth between numerous time lines that puts the Facebook Movie on lock as the easy winner here.

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5 comments on “Oscars 2011: Film Editing

  1. Jaime
    February 9, 2011

    While I probably would give the nod to The Black Swan, I have no quarrel with your pick. Though no Oscar-phile like yourself, it’s always seemed to me that editing, much like the sound categories, is remarkably misunderstood, even among the Academy members. As such, isn’t this another of those categories that tends to follow the Best Picture flock, getting a nomination simply because of the overall popularity of the movie not because it is particularly accomplished? Hence the nomination for The King’s Speech I would guess. Can’t help you on The Fighter.

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  2. Julie
    February 9, 2011

    You know, Jaime, I’m not sure. The director and best pic usually go hand-in-hand, but beyond that..? You’re likely right, though. Most folks probably just pick their favorite of the films for this category (if I did that, Black Swan would top my list). Aaron? Thoughts?

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  3. Jaime
    February 9, 2011

    Just because I was curious (and tired of working) I took a look back at the history of this category. They started awarding it in 1934, so they’ve given out 76 of these. Since that time, the winner of Best Picture has been nominated for Best Editing 67 times (88%) and 1980 was the last time the Best Picture winner wasn’t nominated for Best Editing. The same picture won both awards 33 times (43%), including 6 of the last 8.

    Of course, the overlapping of nominees is another story. From 2000-2008 almost exactly half of the Best Picture nominees were also up for Best Editing. (I didn’t include the last two years because of the extra Best Picture nominees). So I don’t know that it means anything at all, but it did kill 30 minutes of time at work.

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  4. Julie
    February 9, 2011

    That’s super-interesting! Thanks for doing all that research. This year, though, I don’t think the statistics will hold true: King’s Speech is sure to win Best Pic, but I highly doubt folks will think of giving it Best Editing. Let’s be honest: it’s obvious that all the other nominees have better editing than that film.

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  5. Aaron
    February 11, 2011

    It is generally thought to be “odd” when the Best Picture and the Best Editing categories don’t match up — as though we can read something INTO that.

    This year that is what happened, too. Everyone was asking why 127 Hours took the True Grit slot if it’s “as strong as it looks.”

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This entry was posted on February 8, 2011 by in Award Predictions, Film Editing, Oscar-Nominated.

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