Oscars 2011 Update: American Cinema Editors Nominations

Best Editing is one of the most important categories at the Oscars. I don’t have the specific numbers in front of me (but I will when I do the category breakdowns), but it’s almost impossible for a film to win Best Picture without getting a Best Editing nomination. It doesn’t need to win, but it needs to be nominated. I’m pretty sure the last film to win Best Picture without a Best Editing nomination was Ordinary People. So this category is important.

Today, the American Society of Editors announced their nominations. Which goes a good bit of the way of predicting what will get nominations at the Oscars. Last year, they got 4 out of 5 films the same as the Oscar list, the only difference being that Inception was left off at the Oscars and 127 Hours went on. Which, to the more Oscar-savvy people, to us, meant that Inception had no chance at Best Picture. (Also, True Grit not receiving an editing nomination also meant the same thing.) 2009, they got 3 of 5 the same, and the differences were that ACE nominated Up in the Air and Star Trek, while the Oscars put on Inglourious Basterds and Precious, two strong Best Picture candidates. (This is how we knew Up in the Air was fading.) So the Editing category is really important. (For those trying to get into the whole Oscar thing, you just got your first major tip on how to sound like you really know what you’re doing.)

With that in mind, let’s look and see what ACE nominated for their film awards:

Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic)

The Descendants

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo



War Horse


Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy or Musical)

The Artist


Midnight in Paris

My Week with Marilyn

Young Adult

And also, quickly, while we’re here:

Best Edited Animated Feature Film:

The Adventures of Tintin

Puss in Boots


I don’t actually know if this has anything to do with Best Animated Feature. I’d wager probably not.

The rest are TV. One quick note on that: I love that Curb Your Enthusiasm got two of the three nominations in its category. That’s awesome.

Okay, so now, here’s what our film nominees look like:


  • The Descendants
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • Moneyball
  • War Horse


  • The Artist
  • Bridesmaids
  • Midnight in Paris
  • My Week with Marilyn
  • Young Adult

One thing you immediately notice here? That it’s basically what we consider to be the Best Picture favorites: The Artist, The Descendants, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, War Horse. The only film missing is The Help. Which — there’s one of the keys to the Oscars right there. If The Help magically appears on this list come nominations day, that means it definitely has a chance to win Best Picture (assuming it’s also nominated there. But there’s almost no way it’s nominated here and not there).

You’ll also notice how The Tree of Life, a film that’s seemingly all about editing, was left off in favor of The Descendants, which doesn’t seem to be so much about editing. This is why Best Editing is so important for Best Picture. It’s almost not even about the editing.

Right now, I’d say, of the nominees (since on my list, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy would be on there), the five best editing jobs were:

  • The Artist
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • Moneyball
  • War Horse

That would be my category if these were my only choices. But, since this category is all about Best Picture, I’d expect to see The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo and probably War Horse on there come nominations day. Midnight in Paris doesn’t need it, since it doesn’t even need a Best Picture nomination. But if it gets one, you know they won’t vote for it, so it probably won’t make a showing here. And like I said, if The Help appears, watch out for that. Bridesmaids would be a real shocker for a Best Editing nomination, but right now, I think all they want is that Best Picture nomination.

So, come nominations day, the important thing to see will be what the other two nominees are that aren’t The Artist, The Descendants and Hugo (there’s only like a 5% chance one of those three is left off, and if that happens, throw them out immediately for Best Picture. There’s no way you’re gonna argue with 30 years of precedent. Brokeback Mountain didn’t get a Best Editing nomination. I rest my case). Whatever doesn’t get on immediately loses out on the Best Picture race. Which would be upsetting, since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo automatically looks like the film without the strongest hold on the Best Picture race, meanwhile it’s clearly the film with the best editing in it of the nominees. Which is why, if The Descendants has to be on, I’d take off Moneyball. I loved it, but War Horse and Dragon Tattoo were far superior on their editing jobs.

Not that any of this matters, since it’s all about Best Picture. So ultimately I’ll take what they give me. Either way — this is kind of a big day, since right here, we’re finding out what will almost definitely be in on the Best Picture race. (And if we’re not, that’s even bigger news. Since if something else gets on, that changes the game completely.)

Seriously though — Best Editing. One of the most important categories of the Oscars. There you go, people. I just made you sound 10x smarter at your Oscar party this year.

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