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Oscars 2018 Category Breakdown: Best Editing

So what we do here each year as a warm up for the Oscars is, I break down each of the 24 categories. The idea is to both familiarize everyone with the category and its history. I look at what the major trends are throughout the past bunch of years, how the precursors tend to go, whether they matter or not, that sort of stuff. I look at how the category came to be this year, and just anything else that seems totally pertinent about it. Then I rank each of the nominees and tell you what their likelihood (at this particular moment in time) of winning is.

This is all prelude to my giant Oscar ballot that I’m gonna give you. But I figure, if you have these as the warmup, it’s not as intimidating. You’ll have seen a lot of the pertinent trends here and we’ll all be able to reference these as a sort of cheat sheet. Plus it shows you where my head is at for how I think each of the categories are gonna go, and you can see me working my way up to all the bad decisions I usually make while guessing. Pretty much, with this, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the category is gonna turn out.

Today is Best Editing. And what is shaping up to potentially be the most interesting Editing category since 2011. You all remember 2011 Best Editing, right?

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

Stagecoach

1940 North West Mounted Police The Grapes of Wrath

The Letter

The Long Voyage Home

Rebecca

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

Janie

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

Battleground

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

Oklahoma!

The Rose Tattoo

1956 Around the World in 80 Days The Brave One

Giant

Somebody Up There Likes Me

The Ten Commandments

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

Pal Joey

Sayonara

Witness for the Prosecution

1958 Gigi Auntie Mame

Cowboy

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

Pepe

Spartacus

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

Cleopatra

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

Oliver!

Wild in the Streets

1969 Z Hello, Dolly!

Midnight Cowboy

The Secret of Santa Vittoria

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

1970 Patton Airport

MASH

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Woodstock

1971 The French Connection The Andromeda Strain

A Clockwork Orange

Kotch

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

Chinatown

Earthquake

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

Network

Two-Minute Warning

1977 Star Wars Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Julia

Smokey and the Bandit

The Turning Point

1978 The Deer Hunter The Boys from Brazil

Coming Home

Midnight Express

Superman

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

Fame

1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark Chariots of Fire

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

On Golden Pond

Reds

1982 Gandhi Das Boot

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

An Officer and a Gentleman

Tootsie

1983 The Right Stuff Blue Thunder

Flashdance

Silkwood

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

RoboCop

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

Glory

The Bear

1990 Dances with Wolves Ghost

The Godfather Part III

Goodfellas

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

Speed

1995 Apollo 13 Babe

Braveheart

Crimson Tide

Seven

1996 The English Patient Evita

Fargo

Jerry Maguire

Shine

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

Gladiator

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Wonder Boys

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

A Beautiful Mind

Memento

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

Seabiscuit

2004 The Aviator Collateral

Finding Neverland

Million Dollar Baby

Ray

2005 Crash Cinderella Man

The Constant Gardener

Munich

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

Frost/Nixon

Milk

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

Hugo

Moneyball

2012 Argo Life of Pi

Lincoln

Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

2013 Gravity American Hustle

Captain Phillips

Dallas Buyers Club

12 Years a Slave

2014 Whiplash American Sniper

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

2015 Mad Max: Fury Road The Big Short

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

2016 Hacksaw Ridge Arrival

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

2017 Dunkirk Baby Driver

I, Tonya

The Shape of Water

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Some years (like last year), the Editing category is about actual film editing. This year, like it tends to be, is all about Best Picture. All five nominees are Best Picture nominees. You normally say “a movie can’t really win Best Picture without an Editing nomination” and yet… one of the major Best Picture nominees isn’t nominated for Editing. So here we are. It’s an interesting one.

But before we get into all that, let’s look at the precursors for this category. Which are the same as all the tech categories — the guild (ACE here), BAFTA and BFCA.

Oh, and I guess mentioning the big stat, 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 that’s 10 out of 90 years. Which more refers to Best Picture than this category, but it’s worth knowing.

Okay, so precursors, we’ll start with ACE. All-time, they’re 39/57, which is just under 70%. They’re 22/30 the past 30 years (just under 75%) and 6/10 the past ten. They’ve missed a lot more recently than you’d think. BAFTA is 7/10 the past ten, and BFCA has only giving out nine editing awards and is not great. 4/9.

I think we’re all over the map, and you kind of just have to look at everything and then the category and figure it out.

Best Editing

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Vice

This was a really interesting year. To start — First Man is one of the few films nominated across the board in all the precursors. Yet they left it off. Which, sure, if you’re gonna nominate five Best Picture nominees, that makes sense. However, they left Roma off. And A Star Is Born. Both of which were/are considered Best Picture winner possibilities. A Star Is Born I felt peaked too early and felt like it could have been left off. Roma can still win Best Picture. And they left it off. That’s a really big thing and really throws this category into chaos.

This is one where I truly now do not know what’s gonna win and it can go five deep. The last five deep category we saw was Visual Effects 2015, when Ex Machina won. I didn’t know that was a five deep category, but it was. The other five deep category in recent memory was also a Best Editing category. 2011. The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Moneyball, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Moneyball was all about Editing. Hugo was Thelma Schoonmaker. The Artist was the clear Best Picture winner. The Descendants won ACE. Dragon Tattoo ended up winning the category and was the same team that won for Social Network the year before. This feels a lot like that.

In terms of how we got this category, if you know that First Man doesn’t make it, then you’re basically looking only at Best Picture nominees, because First Man was the only outside contender that got precursors. So you’re left with: Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, Roma, A Star Is Born, Vice. Those were the clear top eight. Beale Street didn’t get any precursors and didn’t seem like a Best Picture contender. Mary Poppins. It was those eight. So you figure which five are the most likely contenders to win. I could have said Black Panther wasn’t getting an Editing nomination. Past that… no clue. Could have gone either way. Would never have said both Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody got on and Roma was left off. Could have said The Favourite was on, probably BlacKkKlansman got on. Vice felt like an “editing” kind of choice, but it also felt like they could have left it off. Really fascinated by how this one turned out.

Now, of course, we have to figure out what the fuck the likely winners are gonna be. So let’s see how the precursors went:

  • ACE Dramatic: Bohemian Rhapsody
  • ACE Comedy: The Favourite
  • BAFTA: Vice
  • BFCA: First Man

Welcome to the most insane category of 2018. Score, sure, you can narrow it down. This one? This is 2011 all over again. What the hell do you do with all that?

This is me just guessing wildly. I have truly no idea how this is gonna turn out.

Rankings:

5. BlacKkKlansman — It’s won no precursors, and I can’t see it jumping up out of nowhere and winning Best Picture. This is the category that can tip where Picture is going, but I don’t think this factors into that. So, absent of that, I have to consider everything else a bigger contender in this category over this one. Though I do think anything can win here. So it’s all on the table. I just think I’m less likely to take this over anything else.

4. The Favourite — It just has ACE comedy, which is sort of big, since it beat Green Book there, but also… when have the Oscars listened to guilds in that way? They don’t. And since I don’t see this as having any momentum for a Best Picture win (it didn’t win BAFTA Best Film, which I thought it would, to make things interesting), I can’t see any reason why this would be the choice for them. Could happen, like BlacKkKlansman could happen, but it would be a weird choice to just have out of nowhere, absent a Best Picture win. So I’ll keep this fourth for now.

3. Green Book — It’s the one film in the category whose winning this would tip a possible Best Picture win. Especially with it having won the PGA. So there’s that. Otherwise, I see no reason for this to win, since it’s the most pedestrianly edited film of the lot. But the Oscars don’t care. Argo won en route to a Best Picture win, so it’s possible, and that’s the only reason I’m keeping this as a third choice right now. I don’t see this winning this no matter how Best Picture goes, but if somehow they decide they want to rally around it, here we are. So I’ll give it that respect, but I still don’t know. Looking back to 2011, this feels like The Artist or The Descendants… why would you vote for it in Editing? The Artist, sure, it was going to win Best Picture, but otherwise, why vote for it?

2. Vice — It’s the “most” edited film of the category. And given the 2011 comparisons, the “most edited” film won there too, which was Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. So on that level, I might consider this the favorite. It also won BAFTA, which is big. And possibly telling. Though they didn’t even nominate Dragon Tattoo in 2011, so it’s not that telling. But we have a precursor, and it’s the most edited film. I think it can win. It might win. Mad Max was the thing that kept The Big Short from probably winning in 2015. So maybe this is the delayed win. I don’t know. But if someone is looking at this from afar (meaning, from their ballot, only having seen the movies and nothing else), I suspect this will be one of the ones that jumps out to them when they think about “editing.” So I’m making it the second choice.

1. Bohemian Rhapsody — I’m putting it first because of the guild win. And because you think, “Okay, it’s got all the music and the montages… editing was good.” I think it’s between this and Vice as the two that make the most sense. My gut tells me this is the most likely winner, but I also feel like some of that is currently because I couldn’t help but watch Vice and go, “Man, this seems really choppy as compared to Big Short.” But maybe no one cares. I don’t know. I’m gonna have to think about that over the next two weeks, since there’s nothing else coming down the pike to help me out. But right now I think this and Vice are the two that make the most sense here, in a situation where we think Roma is likely winning Best Picture. If you think Green Book is gonna win, then that should go higher, and if you think The Favourite or BlacKkKlansman can win, then put those higher. In the scenario I’m looking at, I feel like one of these top two likely wins. But this is the most wide open of all the races, so don’t be surprised when you get this one dead wrong. You gotta be prepared for at least one of those every year. This feels like your contender for 2018.

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