Thursday, 16 February 2012

Incoherent Oscar: Film Editing

Editing, I’ve heard said is something of an invisible art. Every film demands it, it ends up being representative of the final product of a film, and oftentimes it’s what accounts for a film dragging or not. Which, I suppose is why the editing category of AMPAS ends up looking so similar to their picture category. True, it’s a bit odd because the finest films don’t always necessarily have the finest editing. But, that is how it goes and this is the slate of nominees we’ve ended up with.

The Nominees: The Artist; ;The Descendants; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Hugo; Moneyball

What we have are four picture nominees, and one oft-nominated film making for a race that I think is wide open but one which could prove to be more obvious than I think.

The Artist Sophie-Anne Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
Hazanavicius is nominated for his directing work and this is Bion’s first nomination, and yet it seems that these two could be sailing to an Oscar for their work here…but, are they really? Now I say that this category is up in the air because even if The Artist powers through to the statue, it does not seem as assured a win here. Of course, this is going on the fickle history of the awards’ itself, and if we’ll touch on their “biases” they don’t like comedies here. But, then, The Artist itself is not expressly comedic. The silent film concept makes for a bit more straightforward work for Bion and Hazanavicius (no dialogue to hear, so no issues if it’s cut) but in emulating the silent era, it could be seen as a more difficult task.

The Descendants Kevin Tent
Hmm, The Descendants. The film finds it footing (assuming that you think it does) in the mix between humour and pathos, and I’d imagine that the editing plays a significant role in finding that middle ground. Alas it didn’t exactly work for me, and I do find the nomination a wee-bit suspect. But, then, if the film itself works for the voters I’d imagine that the editing played a role in that. It is, perhaps, though not a strong threat for a win. So, Tent will just have to be content with earning his first nomination.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter
Last year Wall and Baxter won for their work on The Social Network (after being nominated for editing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and they’re back this year with another Fincher film. If AMPAS, like they’re accused of, decides to go for MOST editing then Baxter and Wall win again, since so much of this thriller depends on the constant use of the editing to push the story forward, and it’s not a poor job either so it’s conceivably a threat. True, only two films have won Oscars in this category without correlating picture nods, but it’s happened before – so it’s not impossible.

Hugo Thlema Schoonmaker
The Queen of the category, she is. She’s tied with a few others for most nominations (seven) and most wins (three) having picked up two of those wins in the last 10 years for The Departed and The Aviator (the other was for Raging Bull). Sure, she may not NEED another Oscar but who’s to say she doesn’t deserve one? So much of Hugo is about not just our eponymous character, but about the beauty of the world he inhabits, those characters on the periphery. The story is, in part an affectionate observation of the magical Paris and that’s what Thelma’s editing does. Will Oscar bite?

Moneyball Christopher Tellefsen
We’ve got flashbacks, archival footage, scenes loaded with conversations and overwhelming silences. Editing is not incidental to this film, and first time nominee Tellefsen isn’t earning a coattails nod. Despite its picture nod, though, the conversation on this film seems muted which doesn’t exactly prove much but does give me pause in considering it a serious threat to the more obvious contenders. Who’s to know what voters will decide to do? They could always through us a curveball, but I don’t anticipate it being for this.

Prediction: Hugo (just because I think voters would love to give Thelma a fourth, and make her the most honoured editor)
Alternate: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (a millimetre behind Hugo and a millimetre in front The Artist. The film IS all about the style. It’s more than a possibility I say.)

Am I being foolish and not giving The Artist stringer consideration? Or will Thelma make history? Or will Baxter and Wall be the first consecutive winners in over 70 years?


Nick Prigge said...

I'm rooting for Tellefsen even though, as you point out, there isn't much talk surrounding him. That said, I'm still disappointed "Beginners" didn't get a look in this category. I'm hoping to have an article up next week on that subject.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

prigge i'm not certain any of the five would make my own best-of-list, but i'd be fine with hugo taking it, which - despite my prediction - probably shall not occur.

Paolo said...

Dragon Tattoo gets my vote because every scene is justified. I also wished The Tree of Life was nominated but it will take me time to determine which one should be knocked off the list.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

paolo as much i like the tree of life i can't get behind supporting its editing. the complaints lodged at hugo are incidentally the ones have against the tree of life and its editing. if thelma can't win, i hope it's wall and baxter, although it seems - gasp - the descendants has chances. ick.