Some would say that editing is the most important aspect of cinema and there are been all sorts of theories written about it. Some directors embrace the long shot and invisible edit, others like to cut at lightning fast speeds, but whether you’re Michal Bay or Bela Tarr this is an aspect of filmmaking you’re going to have to tackle and this category rewards achievements in that field.
- Avatar: A team which includes James Cameron himself did the cutting for this epic feature and I think they did a great job. In order to accommodate the 3D presentation Cameron had to adjust the typical film language. Bourne style quick-cuts, for example, wouldn’t have worked in the format and I think one of the reasons that the movie sort of stands out is that they had to avoid all of that stuff. And contrary to what some haters will tell you, the movie moves pretty fast for a movie of this length.
- Brüno: There must have been hundreds of hours of footage for this thing, and the editing team needed to sort through it all. In addition to that challenge, they need to use editing in order to create perfect comic timing, with many of the unwilling participants not helping. The editors needed to get the perfect shot and reaction edits in order to make the jokes land just right.
- The Hurt Locker: The suspense genre is long known for its reliance on perfect editing in order to build the tension and then release it at just the right moment. The bomb defusal scenes are a good example of this; the team needs to cut between the defusal agent, the team supporting him, and the suspicious crowds around them, all while focusing on the bomb itself and its status.
- Inglorious Basterds: Sally Menke has been Tarentino’s editor since Reservoir Dogs and it seems like she’s quickly becoming his Schoonmaker. He’s stuck with her for a reason; it feels like the two of them have struck a rapport with each other that’s as invaluable as her basic skills in her trade. Here she needs to cut some really tense scenes, especially noteworthy is the shootout at the bar in which she needs to make complete chaos totally coherent.
- The White Ribbon: Only the rare talent has a distinctive editing style, and Michael Haneke is one of them, and that this distinctive style is pretty subtle only makes it all the more impressive. Haneke has explained that he tries to eliminate everything at the beginning and end of a scene that is unneeded, and these abrupt transitions have the duel effect of speeding the story along while also giving the whole thing a clear feeling of unease.