Oscars 2017 Category Breakdown: Best Editing

Every year, as we lead up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. I do this to familiarize everyone with the category; what the trends are, how the guilds and stuff help (or don’t), etc. I also do it as a precursor to my giant Oscar ballot. I get most of the heavy lifting out of the way here, so that way when I get to the article, I’m just kind of riffing on how I think it’ll turn out and talking myself into all the bad decisions. It’s like college. And this is the pregame.

How these articles work is — I give you all the previous winners and nominees of each of the categories, then tell you how accurate each of the respective guilds and precursors are in what they vote for versus what wins the Oscar, tell you how each of them voted this year, then give you this year’s category, along with a quick rundown of how we ended up with that category (what was a surprise, etc). After that, I rank each of this year’s nominees in terms of how I see them right now in terms of their likelihood to win. Which is nothing more than my perception (notice that underline, even though you won’t) of how the category seems at the moment based on everything I know and have seen. Which will give you a general sense of the favorites.

Today is Best Editing. I hesitated so much on this one because there are three viable choices for what could win (technically four). And I waited to see if anything would sway me before I straight up announced this as a possible 2011 scenario all over again.

Year Best Editing Winners Other Nominees
1934 Eskimo/Mala the Magnificent Cleopatra

One Night of Love

1935 A Midsummer Night’s Dream David Copperfield

The Informer

Les Misérables

Lives of a Bengal Lancer

Mutiny on the Bounty

1936 Anthony Adverse Come and Get It

The Great Ziegfeld

Lloyd’s of London

A Tale of Two Cities

Theodora Goes Wild

1937 Lost Horizon The Awful Truth

Captains Courageous

The Good Earth

One Hundred Men and a Girl

1938 The Adventures of Robin Hood Alexander’s Ragtime Band

The Great Waltz

Test Pilot

You Can’t Take It with You

1939 Gone With the Wind Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

The Rains Came


1940 North West Mounted Police The Grapes of Wrath

The Letter

The Long Voyage Home


1941 Sergeant York Citizen Kane

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

How Green Was My Valley

The Little Foxes

1942 The Pride of the Yankees Mrs. Miniver

The Talk of the Town

This Above All

Yankee Doodle Dandy

1943 Air Force Casablanca

Five Graves to Cairo

For Whom the Bell Tolls

The Song of Bernadette

1944 Wilson Going My Way


None but the Lonely Heart

Since You Went Away

1945 National Velvet The Bells of St. Mary’s

The Lost Weekend

Objective, Burma!

A Song to Remember

1946 The Best Years of Our Lives It’s a Wonderful Life

The Jolson Story

The Killers

The Yearling

1947 Body and Soul The Bishop’s Wife

Gentleman’s Agreement

Green Dolphin Street

Odd Man Out

1948 The Naked City Joan of Arc

Johnny Belinda

Red River

The Red Shoes

1949 Champion All the King’s Men


Sands of Iwo Jima

The Window

1950 King Solomon’s Mines All About Eve

Annie Get your Gun

Sunset Boulevard

The Third Man

1951 A Place in the Sun An American in Paris

Decision Before Dawn

Quo Vadis

The Well

1952 High Noon Come Back, Little Sheba

Flat Top

The Greatest Show on Earth

Moulin Rouge

1953 From Here to Eternity Crazylegs

The Moon is Blue

Roman Holiday

The War of the Worlds

1954 On the Waterfront The Caine Mutiny

The High and the Mighty

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

1955 Picnic Blackboard Jungle

The Bridges at Toko-Ri


The Rose Tattoo

1956 Around the World in 80 Days The Brave One


Somebody Up There Likes Me

The Ten Commandments

1957 The Bridge on the River Kwai Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

Pal Joey


Witness for the Prosecution

1958 Gigi Auntie Mame


The Defiant Ones

I Want to Live!

1959 Ben-Hur Anatomy of a Murder

North by Northwest

The Nun’s Story

On the Beach

1960 The Apartment The Alamo

Inherit the Wind



1961 West Side Story Fanny

The Guns of Navarone

Judgment at Nuremberg

The Parent Trap

1962 Lawrence of Arabia The Longest Day

The Manchurian Candidate

The Music Man

Mutiny on the Bounty

1963 How the West Was Won The Cardinal


The Great Escape

It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

1964 Mary Poppins Becket

Father Goose

Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte

My Fair Lady

1965 The Sound of Music Cat Ballou

Doctor Zhivago

The Flight of the Phoenix

The Great Race

1966 Grand Prix Fantastic Voyage

The Russians are Coming, the Russiands are Coming

The Sand Pebbles

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1967 In the Heat of the Night Beach Red

The Dirty Dozen

Doctor Dolittle

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

1968 Bullitt Funny Girl

The Odd Couple


Wild in the Streets

1969 Z Hello, Dolly!

Midnight Cowboy

The Secret of Santa Vittoria

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

1970 Patton Airport


Tora! Tora! Tora!


1971 The French Connection The Andromeda Strain

A Clockwork Orange


Summer of ‘42

1972 Cabaret Deliverance

The Godfather

The Hot Rock

The Poseidon Adventure

1973 The Sting American Graffiti

The Day of the Jackal

The Exorcist

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

1974 The Towering Inferno Blazing Saddles



The Longest Yard

1975 Jaws Dog Day Afternoon

The Man Who Would Be King

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Three Days of the Condor

1976 Rocky All the President’s Men

Bound for Glory


Two-Minute Warning

1977 Star Wars Close Encounters of the Third Kind


Smokey and the Bandit

The Turning Point

1978 The Deer Hunter The Boys from Brazil

Coming Home

Midnight Express


1979 All That Jazz Apocalypse Now

The Black Stallion

Kramer vs. Kramer

The Rose

1980 Raging Bull Coal Miner’s Daughter

The Competition

The Elephant Man


1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Chariots of Fire

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

On Golden Pond


1982 Gandhi Das Boot

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

An Officer and a Gentleman


1983 The Right Stuff Blue Thunder



Terms of Endearment

1984 The Killing Fields Amadeus

The Cotton Club

A Passage to India

Romancing the Stone

1985 Witness A Chorus Line

Out of Africa

Prizzi’s Honor

Runaway Train

1986 Platoon Aliens

Hannah and Her Sisters

The Mission

Top Gun

1987 The Last Emperor Broadcast News

Empire of the Sun

Fatal Attraction


1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit Die Hard

Gorillas in the Mist

Mississippi Burning

Rain Man

1989 Born on the Fourth of July Driving Miss Daisy

The Fabulous Baker Boys


The Bear

1990 Dances with Wolves Ghost

The Godfather Part III


The Hunt for Red October

1991 JFK The Commitments

The Silence of the Lambs

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Thelma & Louise

1992 Unforgiven Basic Instinct

The Crying Game

A Few Good Men

The Player

1993 Schindler’s List The Fugitive

In the Line of Fire

In the Name of the Father

The Piano

1994 Forrest Gump Hoop Dreams

Pulp Fiction

The Shawshank Redemption


1995 Apollo 13 Babe


Crimson Tide


1996 The English Patient Evita


Jerry Maguire


1997 Titanic Air Force One

As Good as It Gets

Good Will Hunting

L.A. Confidential

1998 Saving Private Ryan Out of Sight

Shakespeare in Love

The Thin Red Line

Life is Beautiful

1999 The Matrix American Beauty

The Cider House Rules

The Insider

The Sixth Sense

2000 Traffic Almost Famous


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Wonder Boys

2001 Black Hawk Down The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

A Beautiful Mind


Moulin Rouge!

2002 Chicago Gangs of New York

The Hours

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Pianist

2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King City of God

Cold Mountain

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World


2004 The Aviator Collateral

Finding Neverland

Million Dollar Baby


2005 Crash Cinderella Man

The Constant Gardener


Walk the Line

2006 The Departed Babel

Blood Diamond

Children of Men

United 93

2007 The Bourne Ultimatum The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Into the Wild

No Country for Old Men

There Will Be Blood

2008 Slumdog Millionaire The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Dark Knight



2009 The Hurt Locker Avatar

District 9

Inglourious Basterds

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

2010 The Social Network Black Swan

127 Hours

The Fighter

The King’s Speech

2011 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo The Artists

The Descendants



2012 Argo Life of Pi


Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

2013 Gravity American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

12 Years a Slave

2014 Whiplash American Sniper


The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

2015 Mad Max: Fury Road The Big Short

The Revenant


Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

2016 Hacksaw Ridge Arrival

Hell or High Water

La La Land


This year, more than ever, we might have a category more based on the definition of the term ‘editing’ than how this category usually goes. This category has become a weird Best Picture tie-in category, where the major Best Picture nominees need to be nominated here in order to win. Technically the best picture will have the best editing, because editing is what makes a film… but when you think about the vague notion of what editing really is, I feel like it’s more in like with a lot of this category than in other years.

That said, we must begin by saying that the only Best Picture winners to not be nominated for Best Editing are: It Happened One Night, The Life of Emile Zola, Hamlet, Marty, Tom Jones, A Man for All Seasons, The Godfather Part II, Annie Hall, Ordinary People, and Birdman. So there’s a 90% chance the Best Picture winner will be either The Shape of Water or Three Billboards. And we haven’t even gotten to that category yet. You’re welcome.

Precursor-wise, you look at ACE, the American Cinema Editors, and then a little bit at BAFTA and BFCA, since they also hand out Editing awards. The Eddies (that’s the ACE award) are generally pretty good, though they’ve been somewhat shaky lately. They’re about 70% all time on their awards, but only 60% the past ten years, missing three of the past five. BAFTA, meanwhile, is 8/10 the past ten years, which is pretty solid. And BFCA only started giving out Editing awards in 2009, but has only missed twice since then. Which is solid.

This year, though… precursors are very split. The Eddies went to Dunkirk for Dramatic and I, Tonya for Comedic, BAFTA went to Baby Driver and BFCA was a tie between Dunkirk and Baby Driver.

So, while you’re left with almost no clarity as to what will win this category, you have a solid picture of where each nominee stands. So let’s get into that.

Best Editing

Baby Driver


I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The tough thing about guessing an Editing category is knowing just how many Best Picture nominees are gonna make it. You had to have guessed Three Billboards and Shape of Water on the fact that they seemed like the favorites going in. Dunkirk was on regardless of its status as a Best Picture nominee. Baby Driver, you felt was a likely contender just because of how much editing is there and how much of the action is also edited to specific songs. But that left that fifth spot, where you really had no idea about. I, Tonya was a solid contender, but you had to figure they’d have at least one more Best Picture contender. Maybe Lady Bird, maybe Get Out. One of those kinds of films felt like it would get on. But, in the end, we got this category, which is solid. All around really good work.


5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri — Just because a Best Picture contender has to be nominated for Editing doesn’t mean it has to win. I can’t see this getting almost any votes in this category, since even the most ardent Three Billboards supporters don’t feel the need to take it in this category. Zero precursor wins, and this isn’t the kind of film that will be tapped as a winner by an Editing win earlier in the night. This isn’t like Crash. It’s an all-around fifth choice.

4. I, Tonya — It has an Eddie win. But that’s like a Globes win for Best Picture – Comedy. Sure, you have it, but there’s that other one that means more there too. Still, a precursor is a precursor, and we know there’s some support out there for it. But you can’t put it over the other three. Makes no sense to do so, so it becomes a default fourth choice. Since while Three Billboards will have more overall support than this, people saw this and people know how good the editing is. So that’ll get it a few votes to make it a fourth choice. No higher, though.

3. The Shape of Water — If any Best Picture contender stands to make a statement by winning this category, this is the one. You cannot count it out. Argo, The Departed, Crash… these movies rode an Editing win to a Best Picture win. Do not make the mistake of counting this out despite a lack of precursors. At worst it’s a third choice. At best it’s a second. Don’t make it the favorite, but keep it in the hunt, especially if you do the scorecard thing like I do. Don’t get caught with your pants down assuming this has no chance. This could easily take this category en route to the big one.

2. Baby Driver — As much as I want to say The Shape of Water is the second choice here even despite the precursors, this movie is all about editing. People saw it and loved it, and it has broad support among those who’ve seen it. It has two big precursors. I’m surprised it won BAFTA outright. Especially over Dunkirk, which is a quintessentially British film. Right now, this and Dunkirk are tied, precursor-wise. Only two small things separate them. They’re 1A and 1B, as far as I can tell.

1. Dunkirk — This is the favorite over Baby Driver for two reasons. First… I trust the guild over BAFTA. BAFTA’s been better the past decade, but I just trust the editors over a voting body at large in this situation. And second — more importantly — it has 8 overall nominations, it’s a war film (a war film won this category last year), and it just feels like the film that’s gonna win this. It’s the big fish in the pond. I’m gonna call the big fish the favorite unless there’s a legitimate reason for me to not do so. And since it’s tied with Baby Driver for precursors, I can break that tie by saying it is the more feted film with 5 more overall nominations and has the guild win. So that’s what I’ve got. This category could go one of three ways (can’t see it going the full 2011), and unless they’re gonna make a Shape of Water statement, I feel like it’s just a toss up between one or the other. It’s not so bad.

– – – – – – – – – –


One response

  1. lacourseauxetoiles

    I’d put I, Tonya in third. While the Comedy Eddie isn’t that impressive, what is impressive is that it beat out Baby Driver for the Eddie, which shows that it has support.

    February 27, 2018 at 10:20 pm

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