The editing Oscar is a rather important technical award. The nomination alone is a big precursor for who will take home best picture. Since Best Editing became an award back in 1934, only nine movies have won Best Picture without an editing nomination, the last one being more than thirty years ago for Ordinary People. The Best Picture winner doesn’t always win it but it’s very important to be nominated. So what does the Academy look for when picking best editing? Based on past winners, the Academy seems to go for big complicated action or war films (The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Ultimatum) or movies with multiple storylines told out of sequence (The Social Network, Slumdog Millionaire).  Let’s look at the chances of the nominees.
 

The Artist

What’s going for it: The film is way out front to take Best Picture which means it has the Academy’s full support. The movie could just sweep every award come Oscar night. The film also is a rare oddity which uses delicate editing techniques to tell a story without any sound or dialogue. It’s a silent film and the editors had the daunting task of sewing together a cohesive story without sound for a modern audience. That alone makes it stand out from the crowd. Even if most of the past winners have gone to action films or nonlinear storytelling flicks, The Artist is such a technical oddball that it will definitely strike the voters.

What’s against it: Although the film stands out, the story is very simple, maybe too simple. The voters may want to award a film that is more complicated story wise. The most complicated edits in The Artist, other than the sound barrier task, is maybe a couple musical numbers. Most of the shots are relatively steady with little to no cutaways. The film presentation is fine, but it’s a little lackluster compared to some of the other nominees. Also, the voters may not want to give, director, producer, and editor Michel Hazanavicius, all three Oscars he is nominated for. He may be a little too new to sweep everything.
 

The Descendants

What’s going for it: The film carefully mixes heavy drama with situational comedy. The editing is important to make the flow of the comedy not too hokey and the drama not too dreary. It is one of the few heavy hitters that actually has a chance to upset the best picture race. There is strong support for it and, honestly, was a bit of surprise to get into the editing race over more complicated editing choices, Tree of Life and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Nonetheless, the nomination sure helps its case as a major contender. Oh, plus there is always George Clooney.

What’s against it: The film has no big, complicated sequences plus it’s conventionally told. The editing nomination helps build its case for a best picture win than actually winning the editing award. When given the other nominees’ complicated sequences or effects, The Descendants doesn’t even compare with its traditional storytelling. The editing is fine, it gets the story across effortlessly, but so do the other four nominees. And each one of them had a little more of a hurdle to jump technically. Also, this is editor Kevin Tate’s first time nominated. They Academy may want to hold off for another year.
 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

What’s going for it: The movie has multiple storylines that slowly take shape as the story progresses. These are also the same guys who took home the Oscar last year for their editing techniques for The Social Network. These guys are still fresh in the voters mind and the voters may be impressed that they are back for a second year in a row. And as we know, there are some strong Dragon Tattoo supporters that may want to give the film some big recognition. Also, out of all the editing nominees this year, Dragon Tattoo has the most unconventional storytelling techniques from the bunch, which will at least get it noticed.

What’s against it: This is the only film on the list not nominated for best picture. Unlike The Social Network, last year, the love for Dragon Tattoo is not widely acclaimed by the Academy. Unless the pockets of voters who loved the movie convince the others to vote for the film, it looks like it will be an underdog at the show. And although being fresh in the voters’ minds after last year’s win, the Academy may not want to award the same editors again. It may be somebody else’s turn this year.
 

Hugo

What’s going for it: As always, the most nominated film of the year is always a good title to have when going for a victory in any category. It is also good to be a long time collaborator with film master Martin Scorsese. Editor, Thelma Schoonmaker and Scorsese go back about forty years. She is attached to every project he does and has won a total of three Oscars for editing. She is a well known name in the industry and the Academy obviously has strong support for not only Schoonmaker but the film itself. The film is definitely a departure from anything Scorsese has done, which means it was a departure for Schoonmaker. The film is also filled with numerous chase sequences and visual effects that must be considered when in the editing room

What’s against it: The film is more of a family film which, even with Scorsese’s name attached, is not a genre you want to be categorized when wanting to take home a prize like editing. Can anyone even think of a family film being nominated for editing? Also, Schoonmaker has been to the podium three times for her work and the voters may feel it’s time to let somebody else take it. The film also clocks in about two and a half hours. Now plenty of long films have won the editing prize before, but some critics may feel that the pacing was too slow, especially one being aimed at families.
 

Moneyball

What’s going for it: The film has played very strong this award season, showing up at just about every award’s circle. It has a best picture nomination on its side plus big time movie star, Brad Pitt.  It follows its lead character through present day and past events to tell a cohesive story not only about the character’s life, but baseball strategy. It’s a talky movie that is edited carefully to not make the scenes drag out. The movie has a good shot at being shut out, however, some voters may want to award the film something, which might be editing. This is editor, Christopher Tellefsen’s first Oscar nomination and he may be the surprise win Moneyball may be taking.

What’s against it: Moneyball seems to always be the bridesmaid but never the bride at these award shows. It keeps showing up, yet leaving with nothing. There are no high concept sequences or tricky scenes to stitch together. Other than a couple flashbacks, the film is presented pretty conventionally.  Moneyball’s situation is similar to The Descendants; it’s a well told movie with a big movie star but compared to some of the other nominees, the editing techniques are nothing to brag about. This one may just get lost in the shuffle.
 

What will win: Expect The Artist to continue to steamroll over all the other nominees. The voters won’t be able to resist this silent film’s silent editing techniques.

What could upset: As always, Hugo could take the prize since it’s nominated in just about every tech catagory. Don’t underestimate Shoonmaker, she very well could receive her fourth Oscar.
 

Road to the Oscars Series

January 27: Best Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

January 31: Best Animated Short – Savanna New

February 1: Best Documentary Short – Christa Youngpeter

February 2: Best Documentary – Dantzler Smith

February 3: Best Foreign Language Film – Steve Neumann

February 4: Best Visual Effects – Michael Benedict

February 5: Best Sound Editing – Michael Benedict

February 6: Best Sound Mixing – Joseph Doherty

February 7: Best Makeup – Katie Mae Peters

February 8: Best Costume Design – Jax Russo

February 9: Best Art Direction – Scott Youngbauer

February 10: Best Film Editing – Michael Benedict

February 11: Best Cinematography – Scott Youngbauer

February 12: Best Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 13: Best Original Song – Adam Spunberg

February 14: Best Animated Feature Film – Steve Neumann

February 15: Best Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Best Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Best Supporting Actor – Joseph Doherty

February 18: Best Supporting Actress – Angela Stern

February 20: Best Actress – Andrew Payne

February 21: Best Actor – Kit Bowen

February 22: Best Director – Andrew Payne

February 23: Best Picture – Kit Bowen