Editing can be a tricky category to judge when it comes to the Academy Awards. The Academy likes flashiness. It likes showmanship. But often the best editing constitutes a lack of flash and show.
The Best Editing Oscar winner often splits the difference in this regard: visible yet functional. Dynamic editing that doesn’t hinder the film itself. Films with challenging editing tasks, like war films and action films. Editing that is visible enough for the Academy at large to understand and, thus, vote on, yet subtle enough for the Editing branch to nominate in the first place.
- Bohemian Rhapsody
- Green Book
- The Favourite
Will Win: The Favourite
Could Win: Vice
Dark Horse: Green Book
It is tempting to align the Best Editing Oscar with the Best Picture front-runner. With heavy contenders like Roma and A Star is Born notably absent from this category, the Golden Globe and PGA winner Green Book is that tempting pick. But its actual chances at Best Picture are questionable, and its editing is overtly conventional.
The real best editing, out of these five, occurs in The Favourite. Yorgos Mavropsaridis controls tension, emotion, and narrative flow with his edits. But the Oscar stock of The Favourite may be just as questionable as Green Book. It has 10 total nominations, an achievement in and of itself, but it is not an easy favorite (no pun intended) choice in any category it landed in.
All the same, I like it in this category. Vice has the benefit of most editing, something that Academy voters occasionally confuse for best. But Vice is a lost cause Oscar contender (not to mention the frantic editing is one of the most detracting features of McKay’s film).
Bohemian Rhapsody has the campaign boost of claiming authenticity in its editing, given the shot-for-shot recreation of the Live Aid set. That could set it apart. But, ultimately, Bohemian Rhapsody has too much trouble on the homefront to front-run any category it’s nominated for.
Blackkklansman is the uncertain upset pick, as it is in multiple categories. It is a film adeptly made on all fronts, editing chiefly among them. While I would not be unhappy to see this category go the way of Spike Lee’s film, I’m not shooting from the hip with these predictions. Blackkklansman has not had the showing this awards season to warrant front-runner status in any category it appears in.
This category is a tussle, but if skill outmatches show then The Favourite will come out ahead. Perhaps that is wishful thinking.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)