Academy Award for Best Film Editing: A Foreshadowing of Best Picture?


The Academy Award for Best Film Editing is given to the film that has the best film editing.What is film editing? When films are filmed, the shots are out of order, in front of green-screens, there are thousands of takes that have to be discarded, and there are sequences that do not make sense in the context of the movie. It is a jumbled mess, and editors are supposed to take all this material and come up with a cohesive film that lasts about two hours. What does film editing look like? I don't know, and I am not an expert on it. If I messed up my explanation of film editing, I apologize.

The Academy Award for Best Film Editing is not interesting to most people by itself, but there is a very important trend that you will see just by looking at this year's nominees.

The nominees for Best Film Editing are:


Life of Pi


Silver Linings Playbook

Zero Dark Thirty

Looking at the nominees for this category, you might almost think they are competing for Best Picture instead. Indeed, any one of these movies could take home the Oscar for Best Picture, and most pictures that win Best Picture have been at least nominated for Best Film Editing. I will not delve too much into any of these individual movies because they will be mentioned all throughout the night of the awards.

Quite a few movies, like Chicago (2002), LOTR: The Return of the King (2003), Crash (2005), The Departed (2006), Slumdog Millionare (2008), and Hurt Locker (2009) won both Best Film Editing and Best Picture. The Aviator (2004), and Social Network (2010) both won Best Film Editing and were strong contenders for Best Picture in their respective years even if they did not win. Every Best Picture winner since 1981 has been nominated for Best Film Editing, and looking at this year's nominees, this year will not be an exception.

The oddballs were The Borne Ultimatum (2007) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), who won Best Film Editing but were not nominated for Best Picture. I am not arguing that they deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, but they were just a little offtrend. If you go further back than the last ten years, the trend is even stronger, and if I were Nate Silver (or PolicyMic Pundit Elena Shepard), I might even accompany that assertion with some graphs. 

Anyway, as you are making your Academy Awards bets for this year, keep this trend in mind.

Next up: Best Makeup and Hairstyling and Best Costume Design.

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