Categories One-by-One: Editing

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby Kellens101 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 10:50 am

It would be soooo amazing if Whiplash won this. Even in the movie theatre, I was wowed by the exciting rhythms and pacing of the movie. Boyhood is a good candidate, but Whiplash's editing was the best of the year IMO.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby CalWilliam » Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:43 pm

The Original BJ wrote:

No disrespect meant, but I've decided that any opinion that begins with the phrase "if Boyhood hadn't been shot over 12 years..." is one I can't take seriously. It reminds me a bit of the oft-heard "if Brokeback Mountain had been about a man and a woman..." arguments. Such a statement posits that you could easily remove the ONE THING that is literally the entire point of the movie's existence and otherwise analyze the film apart from that, usually in a manner that diminishes its achievement. Sure, Boyhood wouldn't have been an Editing nominee if it hadn't been shot over 12 years -- because that would not have been a movie at all. But, it WAS shot over 12 years, and I concur that the film is solidly in the running in this category due to its Best Picture strength, as well as the fact that it feels like its story is one that was almost "written" in the editing room, with so much footage strung together in such a unique way.


I recognize it was a cheap way to introduce some sort of self-persuasion towards Boyhood's reason of being nominated in film editing, so thank you for letting change my mind. Sometimes it's easier and usual to say something that could sound good instead of saying something that would make sense. That's one of the disadvantages of not writing in your own language.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby The Original BJ » Wed Feb 11, 2015 3:52 pm

Great analysis by everyone so far. Some of my additional thoughts:

I agree that The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel are the weakest contenders. I know Imitation Game has the cross-cutting between three time frames, but doesn't that feel like something that was pretty clearly laid-out in the screenplay rather than the result of any unique editing contribution? And I concur that Grand Budapest moves along in a pleasingly zippy fashion, but it would have to stage a pretty gigantic romp through the tech categories to prevail over three flashier contenders.

No disrespect meant, but I've decided that any opinion that begins with the phrase "if Boyhood hadn't been shot over 12 years..." is one I can't take seriously. It reminds me a bit of the oft-heard "if Brokeback Mountain had been about a man and a woman..." arguments. Such a statement posits that you could easily remove the ONE THING that is literally the entire point of the movie's existence and otherwise analyze the film apart from that, usually in a manner that diminishes its achievement. Sure, Boyhood wouldn't have been an Editing nominee if it hadn't been shot over 12 years -- because that would not have been a movie at all. But, it WAS shot over 12 years, and I concur that the film is solidly in the running in this category due to its Best Picture strength, as well as the fact that it feels like its story is one that was almost "written" in the editing room, with so much footage strung together in such a unique way.

I also have to disagree a little with the statement that if Boyhood wins here, that means it's automatically winning Best Picture, especially given that its major competitor for that prize isn't competing here. I could imagine a situation where Boyhood was so popular it trumped all of its competition in THIS category...only to still prove slightly less popular than Birdman in the top race.

All of that said, I don't know how much "Best Picture pull" will help Boyhood here, simply because it does feel a bit more subdued than the typical winner in this category. I predicted The Artist in its year -- mainly because I thought the silent movie rhythms made it more than just a default-to-Best-Pic candidate -- only to see it lose to something more flashy. And several recent Best Picture winners with even more eye-catching cuts (No Country for Old Men, Million Dollar Baby) still lost out to more ostentatiously edited movies. I feel like you'd have to go back to maybe The Last Emperor to find a Best Picture winner that won this category simply as part of a sweep. (I personally think Unforgiven's action sequences made it a more typical candidate in this race than dws does.)

To answer one question posed here, at the Q&A with Damien Chazelle and Miles Teller after I saw Whiplash, they discussed that a drum double was used for some of the most difficult scenes, but that Teller actually did do much of the drumming himself. Still, kudos to the editor for making all of that look realistic, and for the wildly energetic pace of the movie and its music sequences. (I actually think this sense of pacing is something that has allowed people to ignore some of the movie's more preposterous plot turns -- it's just such an exciting audience-pleaser that there isn't time for folks to stop and question the logic.) After its BAFTA victory, I rate it a very solid candidate.

I will say, though, that there hasn't been as much recent chatter about Whiplash as its competition -- it's won for J.K. Simmons everywhere, but Boyhood (due to Best Picture heat) and American Sniper (due to box office) feel like far buzzier titles at the moment. And I wonder if Sniper might have the right combo of elements to prevail here. It's a huge hit that voters obviously like, but they won't have too many chances to reward it in the top categories (unless those go a bit differently than I expect, I guess). And no matter what you think about the movie's content, it's hard to deny that those battle sequences are pretty terrifically put together, perhaps not quite at Hurt Locker/Black Hawk Down levels of tension, but well within what constitutes a typical winner here.

As others are saying, though, it seems like a fairly close race between the top three, especially given the overall nomination strength of all of these movies.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby Heksagon » Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:19 am

I could see Boyhood winning this one if it has enough support to win Best Picture. Otherwise, I think it’s a stretch.

Then again, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious winner in this category. I have yet to see American Sniper and Whiplash so I don’t want to put down their chances yet, but I do feel that Grand Budapest Hotel has a realistic shot at winning here. It would not be a typical winner for this category, but it is a technically fairly elaborate film, and after Boyhood, the (overall) strongest film nominated here.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby nightwingnova » Tue Feb 10, 2015 7:35 pm

I'm not going to go further back than 2010 to look at voting trends. This way, I can be more sure that voting attitudes haven't changed too much and still have enough examples to draw from.

2010 - Critical and popular favorite and an Oscar front runner Social Network with its tight, energetic pace beats out two of the year's other prestige films (drama/thriller Black Swan and Best Picture The King's Speech) and two lower-tiered ones.

2011 - High profile adaptation of the thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (though I didn't care that much for this version) beats out two of the year's prestige films (Best Picture winner The Artist, whose editing to produce that beautiful "silent film rhythm" I thought deserved the prize, and drama The Descendants), the technically exhilarating family-oriented Hugo and a lower-tiered movie.

2012 - Best Picture winner and popular thriller/docu-drama Argo beats two critically-acclaimed but not as popular films (Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty), an ambitious but critical failure (Life of Pi) and a rom com.

2013 - The technically proficient and a Best Picture front runner Gravity beats Best Picture drama 12 Years a Slave, the celebrated comedy-drama riff on ABSCAM - American Hustle, and two lower-tiered movies.

The trend I see here is that technical impressiveness gives a movie a big boost in this category, but this must be accompanied by being in the top tier of prestige and popularity in order to produce a winner.

From this, I would say that The Imitation Game and Whiplash get dropped because they aren't in the top tier of celebrated movies this year. The Grand Budapest Hotel goes next because it's a comedy and would not be considered "serious" enough, not to mention that the Academy hasn't taken Wes Anderson as seriously as his following.

That leaves American Sniper and Boyhood. I see American Sniper as very popular with a solid critical reception. But I also think that it may seem too familiar from The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty runs. Competitive...

But, I think the likely winner is Boyhood - a critically acclaimed film that is one of the two front runners for Best Picture and of which everyone knows the narrative that it was made over 12 years with the same performers in order to document the growth and changes in the characters. That would convey a proficient editing accomplishment that produced seamless and effective flow.
Last edited by nightwingnova on Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby CalWilliam » Tue Feb 10, 2015 4:28 pm

If Boyhood wouldn't have been shot in 12 years, there's no way it would be a film editing nominee. I think its actual merit is focused on a truly constant and quiet pace, and there aren't really ups and downs during almost three hours, which is difficult to achieve indeed, specially considering those twelve years of shot material. I can see Boyhood winning here easily, of course, if it's going to win Best Picture AND Director AND supporting actress. With Birdman's sweep with the guilds, it won't make any sense if Boyhood wins a la 12 years a slave or a la Argo. I think this year's winner shouldn't get less than 4 Oscars.

Anyway, it will be another interesting category. I can also see The Grand Budapest Hotel winning, if Birdman wins Best Picture. And American Sniper and Whiplash could win if the Academy follow their usual way.

I have the feeling The imitation game will be empty at the end of the night.

(Going back, I still cannot understand how The Godfather part II and Annie Hall could win without this citation. What a joy they won, sure, but it doesn't make any sense, considering how important was the editing in both films).
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby rolotomasi99 » Tue Feb 10, 2015 3:43 pm

If BOYHOOD wins Editing, it will eliminate any tension for the rest of the ceremony. There is no way a film like BOYHOOD can win for its Editing unless it is part of a Best Picture win. If you go through the Oscar winners for Editing back to 1960, you will see them sorted into four groups (action, suspense, musical, multi-timeline). Only every once in a while does a winner stray from those four categories, but they are all Best Picture winners -- SCHINDLER'S LIST, GANDHI, and THE APARTMENT. You have some on the border winners like DANCES WITH WOLVES, THE LAST EMPEROR, and IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, but they could conceivably fall into one of the four categories (action, multi-timeline, and suspense respectively). Only the previous three I mentioned come close to just be films with very ordinary (but skilled) editing winners. If you look at the 50s, you will see many "ordinary" editing winners (AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS and ON THE WATERFRONT), a few of which were not even Best Picture winners (PICNIC and A PLACE IN THE SUN).

BOYHOOD, however, would truly be a remarkable and unique winner. If it had not won the ACE award, I would say there was no way it could win even if it was still the Best Picture front runner. I still think AMERICAN SNIPER or maybe even WHIPLASH could take the award, but BOYHOOD has a surprisingly good shot.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby Greg » Tue Feb 10, 2015 2:14 pm

dws1982 wrote:IMdB's trivia section assures us that Teller played it all--although a double was used at times??


I take this to mean they filmed Teller playing all the music, but did not use all of it in the final film with some of the playing shown being of the double.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Feb 10, 2015 11:23 am

Very solid analysis, dws -- and i say that not simply because I'm credited within it.

I agree The Imitation Game is first to go. Despite its cross-cutting among time-frames, it never feels close to any feat of editing.

I've looked at Grand Budapest Hotel on HBO over the last week or so, and there's more notable edting than I'd remembered -- not just the multiple time-frames, but the lickety-split pacing (the film moves like a rocket). This wasn't, however, an impression I'd carried from my initial viewing, and it's unlikely the average Oscar voter will take the second look I did, so they're likely to pass on it.

Your slant on Boyhood is mostly correct -- if it wasn't a best picture contender, it'd be off the table completely. But I think it has one more thing going for it than you mention: with so much material, shot over such a long period of time, the process of selection -- both what to include and what to omit -- is crucial to the film's success. The choice to include set-ups (like the bullies in the bathroom) without subsequent payoff -- in effect making ellipsis the film's dominant mode -- is something on which the director and editor would need to collaborate closely. This process still doesn't, as you say, match any of the reasons typically leading to wins the category, and it may well be something editors (as in the Guild) respond to far more fervently than the full 6000 will. But it does make it more than "well, it's the best picture choice" -- the argument people were making for The Artist, and I believe the reason I set out the parameters you mentioned in your post.

As for the other two: in addition to what you say about Whiplash making Teller look like Gene Krupa, I'd say the major cutting between actors and drums created a kinetic excitement that voters are likely to identify as editing-related.

American Sniper is, as you say, not as clear an editing choice as Black Hawk Down was, simply because it's not one long battle. But that final extended sequence, hunting down the sniper from the rooftop, is a marvel of cross-cutting, and the film could win on that basis.

I think any of the last three could win, and whoever triumphs will probably do so by a small margin.

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby dws1982 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 8:46 am

ksrymy wrote:Miles Teller took extensive lessons in drumming for the part - I'm not so easy to brush off the fact that it was all fake.

Not all fake, but I suspect it's about like Adrien Brody in The Pianist--he took lessons and did some of the playing that's in the film, but some of the more difficult sections were where the double came in. (IMdB's trivia section assures us that Teller played it all--although a double was used at times??--but I've seen so many untrue things there that I'm wary.)

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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Feb 09, 2015 6:03 am

I agree that it'll be a close one between Boyhood, American Sniper and Whiplash.

A win for Boyhood might be considered checking off a box for the overall winner, but I think the subtle flow from scene to scene in a film that took twelve years to make is impressive enough to win on its own merits. A win for the war movie or the musical drama would be more traditional, but this is not a traditional year so while a win for either would not be a surprise, neither would a loss for both.
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Re: Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby ksrymy » Mon Feb 09, 2015 1:05 am

Miles Teller took extensive lessons in drumming for the part - I'm not so easy to brush off the fact that it was all fake.
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Categories One-by-One: Editing

Postby dws1982 » Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:16 am

I remember a few years back, Mister Tee talked about how Best Editing winners tended to fall into various categories. You have the ones with sustained action or combat (Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, The Bourne Ultimatum), suspense throughout (The Departed, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Argo), cross-cutting between various stories and timelines (The English Patient, Traffic, Crash, The Social Network). Of course a movie can fall into multiple categories (Argo had the suspense plus lots of cross-cutting near the end), but there was also the case of movies that tended not to fall into any definable category, but were just the big movie of the night and pulled Editing in as one of its awards, but none of the winners since about Unforgiven really fall under that criteria. (I do think Unforgiven was the best of those nominees, but that's a different post.) I think he's definitely on to something, I think it's helpful in looking at this category.

I'd eliminate The Imitation Game first. It does quite a bit of cross-cutting between Turing's childhood, his life during the war, and his life after the war, but I don't think those cross-cuts are very effective or meaningful. Plus, there's also the fact that this movie has really tanked on the awards trail. It's done really well at the box-office: It's passed The Grand Budapest Hotel at the domestic box-office, and should end up in the mid-80 millions in terms of gross. But at one awards show after another, it's been shut out. I think it's best hope is for a Screenplay award, and I wouldn't even bet the farm on that.

The Grand Budapest Hotel would probably be the next one to go. It also has multiple timelines (which Anderson distinguishes with different aspect ratios), but it's not a movie that is really all that obvious about its editing. It's the kind of movie where I can see people loving the movie but looking elsewhere for their vote because the editing doesn't really stand out all that much. I think this (along with Cinematography) is probably the award that Budapest is least likely to win.

So, Boyhood. It won the Editor's Guild, and several critics awards. But is this really a typical Editing winner? Would it fit under any criteria other than "big movie of the night"? It's aggressively linear--not a bad thing; it's the point of the movie in a way--very straightforward, and not at all the kind of movie where a casual moviegoer is going to notice the editing. I can see where critics and the professional editors were coming from in recognizing it--for a movie where the footage was shot over such a lengthy period of time, it does a really good job maintaining a consistent tone, point-of-view, and pace. (I think the pace is pretty sluggish, myself.) But these aren't necessarily what the casual Oscar voters have been recognizing lately. I'm not saying it CAN'T win. I think it's definitely in the race. I'm just saying that if you're looking at recent voting trends in this category, Boyhood is probably not the way to predict.

Whiplash is definitely within the range of typical winners here--just like Chicago's editor won for making it look like Zeta and Zellweger really did all of that dancing, Tom Cross deserves credit for making it look like Miles Teller was really playing the drums during those scenes. Both editors did a fine job at that, but a big achievement of those two editors, as far as I'm concerned, was the way the musical numbers have such a unique rhythm and really take off. Plus, the back-and-forth between Simmons and everyone is really well-handled, I think. Wouldn't be shocked to see it win.

American Sniper strikes me as being in the wheelhouse of what they typically vote for, on the sustained action/combat clause. I think it's extremely well-edited, but I'll also acknowledge that it's not a Black Hawk Down situation where the action is so pervasive that the editing really stands out. (There was no doubt in my mind that Black Hawk Down would win that award.) And there is the whole controversy thing, which could hurt it, but in a race where the other nominees don't really stand out as the 100% obvious winner either, this one may stand out just a little bit more, on account of it being a war movie, which gets honored a lot.

So, is Sniper my prediction? I don't know. I'm seeing this right now as a pretty tight three-way race. Here's what I'd like: Editing to be in the last half of the show. Maybe even after Adapted Screenplay. If Sniper wins both Sound awards early in the evening, I think Editing is a very strong possibility. But if it loses one or both, I think Editing is out. If Whiplash wins the Sound award (it did at BAFTA today) or Adapted Screenplay, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it pull in Editing as well. A Boyhood win might give a sign that it's still very much alive in Picture and Director. (I know some--Sasha Stone especially--took the DGA as a sign that it's over, but I don't believe that.) If Imitation Game wins, I'll eat my shoe. And if Grand Budapest wins, just enjoy the rest of the evening because it'll probably be chaotic.
Last edited by dws1982 on Mon Feb 09, 2015 9:45 am, edited 1 time in total.


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