2018 Oscars: Film Editing

Okay, it’s getting to be February around here, which means it’s time to talk Oscars. The winter Olympics gives us an extra week this year, so my annual Oscar coverage will be coming to you Mondays and Thursdays from now until the big day on March 4. Then it’ll be time to put the blog on vacation for a bit and write something else for a while.

With the extra week, I’m adding an extra category. Let’s kick off this year with Editing.

“Baby Driver,” Jonathan Amos, Paul Machliss
“Dunkirk,” Lee Smith
“I, Tonya,” Tatiana S. Riegel
“The Shape of Water,” Sidney Wolinsky
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” Jon Gregory

Who will win: Dunkirk
Who could win: The Shape of Water
Who should win: Baby Driver
Who should be here: Baby Driver (just to hammer the point home)

Let’s get this out of the way right now: Baby Driver has, by far, the best film editing of any film this year. Timing every major scene to music and creating natural, rhythmic cuts to create intensity without being showy and/or annoying is virtually impossible. Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss deserve that gold statue.

If it’s not going to be Baby Driver though (and let’s face it, it’s damned unlikely given that the film has no nominations in the “top” categories), then it should definitely go to Dunkirk, which is as big an epic, visual spectacle as we got in the Best Picture category this year. Dunkirk’s action sequences were raw, visceral and really helped to bring home the chaos of war. Christopher Nolan is famous for his complex films and though this was simpler than most, he told three different stories in three different lengths of time without breaking a sweat. That goes down to…you guessed it…editing. Lee Smith has taken home multiple awards already for the film, making him the favorite at press time.

But the editing awards have a way of showing you which films have a great chance to win Best Picture and, as good as Dunkirk is, there’s not a lot of talk about it for Best Picture (yet). The Shape of Water leads the field with 13 nominations, which often tends to help in what the media likes to refer to as “the technical categories”. Indeed, much of the charm of The Shape of Water comes from its visuals and the look and feel of the film, so it’s hard to dismiss it as a legitimate contender in the category.

I, Tonya beat out Baby Driver in the comedy editing (Baby Driver is a comedy?) awards at the ACE Eddies 2018, which also certainly keeps it in the conversation. Not to mention that its skating sequences were dazzling and the film is sprinkled with mockumentary-style interviews and fourth-wall breaks which help add to the story. Three Billboards probably comes in fifth; not because the editing isn’t great by any means, but because that film lives in its performances and writing much more so than anything else (which is probably why its director also missed out on a nomination, though we’ll get to that later).