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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oscar Series: Best Editing

Achievement in Film Editing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

The Dark Knight, Lee Smith

Frost/Nixon, Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
Milk, Elliot Graham
Slumdog Millionaire, Chris Dickens

Editing has been historically known as a precursor to Best Picture. While not every Best Picture winner wins Best Editing, the last film to not have a nomination in editing and win Best Picture was Ordinary People in 1980. That's incredible. That could be bad news for The Reader. The last eight years Best Picture and Best Editing has matched up 4/8 times.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the longest of the nominees here. That sometimes means the editing job is tougher. That may be true, but it still does not take away the fact that this film dragged at times. The editor probably should have edited out about 30 minutes. This was actually a two man edit job with Baxter and Wall. This is their first nomination. Expect them to go 0/1.

The Dark Knight is the action film in this group. The editing is great especially during the action scenes. This is the second nomination for Smith ('03 for Master and Commander). Considering that Bourne won this award last year, then there is reason to think Knight can do it this year. It's the most deserving of the bunch and should win. This could be a solid alternative and pull off the upset.

Frost/Nixon is an actor's piece. That might not seem like editing is important, but it's quite the opposite. The editing on this film was does well enough to build up great tension during the interviews. This is also a two man edit team. Hill is a four time nominee (won for Apollo 13) and Hanley also is a four time nominee (won for Apollo 13). Frost/Nixon still fails to pack a heavy enough punch to really compete against the favorite. I see it struggling to win any awards this Oscar season.

Milk is unique since it does an amazing job at editing together archival footage so seamlessly that it feels like it belongs in the film. This is the first nomination for Graham. Like Frost/Nixon, I see this as a solid edit job that probably will not be strong enough to knock off the frontrunner.

The frontrunner and probable winner here is Slumdog Millionaire. This is the first nomination for Dickens. This film is a little jumpy. Maybe too jumpy at times, but that will help it win. It does a good job editing the flashbacks into the game show. It does even do a great job building tension during the final questions. Most people have this film winning and unless the tide randomly changes, it probably will.

The ACE Eddie awards on this Sunday. That should give us a better idea on what film is in the lead. Slumdog is expected to win the Eddie. This should come down to that film and The Dark Knight. Two very different films, but both done effectively. It's about taste. I prefer Knight, but I'm confident the Academy will continue the Slumdog lovefest in two weeks.

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