Often the lynchpin or bellwether of Oscar’s top category, Film Editing this year is one of the wildest ever. Four different films won editing precursors leading up to the Oscars and two weren’t even Oscar-nominated at the time of their wins.
All film editing Oscar nominees were nominated at ACE, the American Cinema Editors guild, where King Richard surprised, winning the drama ACE over Dune and The Power of the Dog. tick, tick…BOOM! competed in the comedy category (which used to be Comedy or Musical, but a film, studio or editor can submit a film wherever they choose) where it won.
BAFTA and Critics’ Choice had entirely different winners, both for non-Oscar nominated films. Critics’ Choice opted for West Side Story while BAFTA liked the cuts of No Time to Die, which was also ACE-nominated.
So where does that leave us in a category that is one of eight the Academy and the Oscar show producers decided to shuffle to before the live show begins? We have so many examples, stats and figures that tell us different things. Let’s take a look at some of them to help us figure out who’s really out in front in this very open race.
Generally, the film editing winner usually wins something else below-the-line. The only winner in the last 20 years to not collect any other below-the-line wins was 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was a stat-breaking win at the time. Not since 1968’s Bullitt had a film only won film editing among its nominations. In most examples over decades that we have, the sound categories have proven to be where another win (or at least a nomination) happens. The last eight film editing winners all won at least one sound Oscar, even as the Academy moved back to a single sound category last season. That’s a pretty good track record and one that only favors two films this year: Dune and The Power of the Dog.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) is the only film to win the editing Oscar without a BAFTA nomination this century. It made the BAFTA longlist and won Critics Choice. This year, The Power of the Dog made the BAFTA longlist but missed a nomination. King Richard didn’t even make the longlist.
In King Richard‘s favor is that when a film has won Best Actor (where Will Smith is heavily favored to do this year) and also picks up another below-the-line win. The only recent example of that not happening is 2014’s The Theory of Everything and Eddie Redmayne’s win, the only for the film.
2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody won the film editing Oscar without a Critics’ Choice nomination and was the only Oscar nominee that fit the sound stat that year. It ended up winning both sound awards (editing and mixing) along with its film editing win. It’s also the only film to win the Oscar with just an ACE win going in since that group began.
Films that bucked the corresponding sound nomination and still managed to win film editing at the Oscars this century: Traffic (2000), Crash (2005) and The Departed (2006). As we know, the latter two also won Best Picture while Traffic won for directing, supporting actor and writing and was the Best Picture runner-up that year.
All of this brings me back to my original question: so where does that leave us? What stat or trend will prevail or fall, or will we see something completely different in a year that has already shown us so many top-level categories that are up in the air just a week before the Oscars?
Dune isn’t likely to win Best Picture but has the sound nomination among its many below-the-line as well as being the only film to earn Critics’ Choice, ACE and BAFTA nominations for editing. The Power of the Dog has 12 nominations, including sound, but its win total looks to be low, even if it manages to triumph in Best Picture. King Richard‘s ACE win could be a fluke, but a PGA win tonight could put it in a stellar position. But we also can’t count out a tick, tick…BOOM! upset. Even though it’s not Best Picture-nominated (whereas all other nominees here are), it has arguably some of the flashiest editing of the bunch. It’s very showy editing and thinking how sometimes voters often equate ‘best’ with ‘most,’ especially in these technical categories, there’s a case to be made for it here. If it had scored a sound nomination it would probably be an easier call. But, it did snag a PGA nomination and probably came very close to a Best Picture nod too. This is legitimately a four-way race. What to do, what to do…
Here are my ranked final Oscar predictions in Film Editing.
1. Dune (Warner Bros/HBO Max) – CCA, BAFTA, ACE
2. The Power of the Dog (Netflix) – CCA, ACE
3. King Richard (Warner Bros/HBO Max) – ACE
4. tick, tick…BOOM! (Netflix) – ACE
Myron Kerstein and Andrew Weisblum
5. Don’t Look Up (Netflix) – ACE