Predicting The Oscars

18 02 2008

Film School Rejects takes on the unenviable chore of predicting the winner of the Best Editing Oscars.

Frankly, this is a fools’ errand (though I’m perfectly happy to have fools other than myself do it). I’ve been a member of the Academy for years now, and I can never figure out why one film gets the applause and others do not. I’ve sat in the midst of the Academy weekend screenings and heard the audience hiss and boo, and then watched as the film went on to get nominated. (It happened last year with DREAMGIRLS) I know that the films that I nominate or vote for, rarely get the award.

That having been said, the site notes that:

An award since 1934, the winner has often been films that have raked in plenty of other awards. It’s not always shared with Best Picture, but it usually comes out of that category. Seen as a technical feat as much as an artistic feat, editing is important to pacing, story and character. People may not remember all Best Editing winners (like Barbara McLean for Wilson in 1944), but more often than not, it’s known for honoring a major film.

Then it goes on to talk about each film and describe why it might win, and why it might not. A sample of why BOURNE ULTIMATUM might win:

Rouse isn’t new to the Oscars, although he hasn’t won. He was nominated for United 93, so he carries a degree of reputation. Also, this is the only film in the fray that fits the big-budget action style that this category often honors.

Honestly, I can’t imagine that anyone in the Academy actually pays attention to who is nominated (what “degree of reputation”) the editor might have. Most of them barely can figure out what we do, much less what we’ve done before. In my experience, they often choose either the flashiest film (because they believe that editing is all about splicing), or the film that they liked for Best Picture (because — “Hey, I liked that film. So, I guess it was well edited” — actually, not a bad guideline now that I think of it). No one thinks of the oeuvre of an editor’s work, unless that editor is Dede Allen or Verna Fields.

An example of why they think THERE WILL BE BLOOD might not win:

Quite simply, the performances of Daniel Day Lewis and Paul Dano, along with the top-end awards that P.T. Anderson is vying for, might leave Dylan Tichenor in the dust. Additionally, it’s hard to award an editing honor to a film that runs as long as this one did.

Last night I sat at the Eddie Awards, the yearly award given the American Cinema Editors organization. There was much talk of the subtlety of the editing in BLOOD and the success of the editing in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (there was much laughter at the picture of Roderick Jayne, who is the nom de montage for the Coen brothers, and sighs of relief when the film didn’t win). Ultimately, BOURNE won for Drama, proving that even editors are influenced by quick cutting. [An aside here, I also thought that the editing on that film was masterful — the scene in Waterloo Station is so intricately shaped that I smiled both times I saw it.]

Film School Reject’s pick — BOURNE. No rejects they.

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