OSCAR FORECAST: Best Editing 2013

Best Editing Predictions (as of 10/04/12):
Argo, William Goldenberg
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres

Lincoln, Michael Kahn
Django Unchained, Fred Raskin
Zero Dark ThirtyDylan Tichenor

Best Editing: I love this category. I’m not sure why, but this one may be the one that excites me most. Perhaps it’s the fact that I discovered a link between Best Picture and Best Editing when I was young, a fact that’s less interesting now than it was then. Perhaps it’s the surprises, such as Black Hawk Down winning in 2002 or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo winning last year. Maybe it’s the fact that the average person at least “gets” what editing is and therefore must think about the craft of filmmaking on a more intellectual level when this category comes about. Whatever the reason, I really like the Best Editing category.

Each year, a film gets into this category as much because people consider it the best overall film as because of the editing itself. Think about The Artist and The King’s Speech (each fairly invisible in their editing choices) getting in. By the looks of it, that film will be Argo this year. Not that I don’t think the editing will be sharp (after all, constructing a solid emotional whole is the most important goal of editing), just that I don’t expect that Argo wear its editing on its sleeve the way, say, Life of Pi. Unless it somehow crashes and burns, Argo is a sure bet in this category.

In the past decade, Visual Effects have saturated our movies. As a result, films with big, effective effects are sneaking into other craft categories. I expect Life of Pi, supposedly a masterpiece of form and ethereal storytelling, to benefit from this shift in thinking this year. Ang Lee always has a smoothness to his cuts that don’t invisibly draw away from the craft while also not bringing too much attention to it. Lee is an auteur, if a challenging one to categorize. His ability to push the form has been virtually unparalleled since his early films. Life of Pi will likely be this year’s Hugo. It’s in.

The next three slots are a little more challenging. For now, the safe choices are Lincoln and Django Unchained. Both Tarantino and Spielberg have the finesse to make films move. The cuts are there, in all their bells and whistles glory, yet these filmmakers are so adept with music, performance, acting, and sound that one could easily miss them. Tarantino wears his style on his sleeve (maybe even more than Spielberg), an effect that wil benefit him in a category like Editing. If the film isn’t too esoteric, I imagine it will get in. Lincoln has the opposite problem. Will it be too slow and stuffy? If so, people may not think the editing is anything worth doing naked cartwheels about. Both of these films are near the pole position sight unseen, but either could fall.

I’m starting to cool on The Master’s Oscar chances. Support from Hollywood isn’t great. Initial buzz excited cinephiles, but doesn’t it seem that the tepid box office numbers and uneven audience response has been exactly what we feared? If The Master gets support, it will get in with Editing, but I currently don’t see it happening. Instead, I think Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty will get the nomination. The editing is sure to be something special as Bigelow can make things move like no other. Dylan Tichenor can be a fine craftsman and an equal artist. The topic has the makings of something engaging, especially in this political climate. Remember, Black Hawk Down won this thing. Don’t be surprised to see Tichenor (Magnolia, Royal Tenenbaums) up there for his first, much-deserved Oscar.

Almost Locks:
Argo, William Goldenberg
Life of Pi, Tim Squyres

Safe Bets:
Django Unchained, Fred Raskin
Lincoln, Michael Kahn

Strong Possibilities:
Zero Dark Thirty, Dylan Tichenor
The Master, Peter McNulty
Silver Linings Playbook, Jay Cassidy + Crispin Struthers
Flight, Jeremiah O’Driscoll
Les Misérables, Chris Dickens

Dark Horses:
The Impossible, Elena Ruiz + Bernet Vilaplana
Cloud Atlas, Alexander Berner + Claus Wehlisch
Anna Karenina, Melanie Oliver
Skyfall, Stuart Baird


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