Ah, editing. The trickiest bitch of a category to judge from memory. I think everyone has a pretty good idea of what makes good editing, but unless you’re actively watching every movie you see to try to determine if it’s among the year’s best edited it’s unlikely that you’re going to remember the most nuanced of cutting months later. Still, I feel like there are five nominees this year that I can firmly get behind.
- Argo: This is probably the most “normal” film among this batch of nominees, but it does a number of key things really strongly, and that makes it stand out. Most notably, the film’s editing does a great job of ratcheting up the tension during the suspense scenes like the recreation of the embassy siege and the final scene in the air port. Outside of the espionage scenes though, it also does a great job of editing the film’s comedic scenes when Alan Arkin and John Goodman are doing their thing.
- Cloud Atlas: Six separate stories. They had to cut six separate stories into a single film in order to make this film, and while some of the cross-cutting between the different narratives was likely present in the script long before the film went to post-production, they still needed to work out the fine details and make each cut both very logical and also visually congruous. That scene where the film cuts between Doona Bae crossing the future bridge with David Gyasi crossing the ship’s mast alone should have made this film worthy of consideration.
- The Grey: Most action movies these days move at a breakneck pace and believe that this is necessary in order to keep the audience engaged. The Grey takes something of an opposite approach and tries build a slower, almost lyrical pace in order to give the audience the same melancholy desperation that the characters are dealing with. That’s not to say that the cutting doesn’t also have you pumped up whenever the characters are dealing with killer wolves.
- The Master: It was said that the editing in There Will Be Blood “re-defined the language of cinema.” The editing in The Master doesn’t necessarily re-re-define the language of cinema but it does effectively build upon many of the great things that Anderson was able to do with that movie. Much of the appeal in The Master is in the way that it keeps the audience guessing and the surprise edits play a big part in how the film is able to place the viewer in Freddie Quell’s head.
- Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: Usually “good editing” means speeding a film up and making its set-pieces comprehendible. However, sometimes the effect that’s desired by a film’s editing will do the opposite, it will slow things down and create a mood. That’s what’s happening in this Turkish art film. The goal is to allow shots to linger on certain thing for just the right amount of time to allow the audience to think about what they’re seeing, and the effect is kind of hypnotic.