The LAMB Devours The Oscars 2017: Best Editing

by Jay Cluitt · February 19, 2017 · Featured, LAMB Devours the Oscars · No Comments

Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:

Today, Kevin Powers from Speaks in Movie Lines is here to look at the nominees for Best Editing.

Over the years, the Oscar for Film Editing has been one of my favorites to predict. And this year features a race of nothing but the best. In fact, all of these movies are of the highest class, narratives driven by directors who have chosen exactly the right people to assemble their visions in the editing room.

Each of these films provide plenty to grip us as whole stories, scene-by-scene crafted shot-by-shot to create the highest emotional responses possible.

Here are the 2017 Academy Award nominees for Achievement in Film Editing:

Arrival – Film Editing by Joe Walker

With his second nomination in the category, Joe Walker’s work with director Denis Villeneuve on. Arrival thrives within the timeline tricks of the narrative itself. The film is deliberately paced as a whole, suspenseful, heart-rending, slowly revealing and re-revealing events past, present, and future. And Walker’s editing works especially well in conjunction with Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score.

Hacksaw Ridge – Film Editing by John Gilbert

Also with his second nomination in the category, John Gilbert’s work on Mel Gibson’s violent WWII film Hacksaw Ridge shines the most in the epic final third of the film, the battle sequence on the barren wasteland the title suggests. Fast, jarring, incredibly effective, we see everything at varying speeds and feel everything just the same–fear, suspense, excitement, gratification.

Hell or High Water – Film Editing by Jake Roberts

With his first Oscar nomination, Jake Roberts’ work on director David Mackenzie’s masterful, perfectly-paced modern Western Hell or High Water is at its fullest effect when the film’s two protagonists, down-and-out brothers played by Ben Foster and Chris Pine, making good as bank robbers, are seen together. Just as director of photography Giles Nuttgens spaces them within the frame, Roberts’ editing highlights the nuances of the performances, the closeness of their relationship, the differences in their personalities and behaviors.

La La Land – Film Editing by Tom Cross

After winning in this category for Whiplash in 2015, Tom Cross seems like a sure thing to go two-for-two. His work here with director Damien Chazelle again on La La Land is as vibrant as the film itself, managing Chazelle’s highly-active long takes as well as his attention to detail within each shot. The most striking moments come when Cross builds moments between the film’s two stars, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, managing also their chemistry, finding equal weight to their individual and mutual stories.

Moonlight – Film Editing by Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

Possibly the truest achievement in film editing this year is the move director Barry Jenkins made to tell a story in three distinct acts with three different actors. His editors made that work. Nat Sanders, here with his first nomination, found all the right ways to get us into the perspective of Little in the first act as well as the teenage Chiron in the second, employing jump cuts within scenes, similar shots, to offer small breaks, breaths of air, if you will, in the intense intimacy. Joi McMillon (the first African-American woman to receive a nomination in the category) shines with her work in the film’s Wong Kar-Wai-inspired final act, a languid, tension-filled meditation on unrequited love and redemption.

And the winner is…

Tom Cross will win, deservedly so, for putting together the most MOVIE movie of 2016. La La Land just moves, and there’s no other way to put it. It is solid work. The sad thing is that editors of Moonlight and Hell or High Water both do things with perspective, relationships on such a more personal level. Moonlight, especially, seems almost fully made in post-production, while La La Land seems more planned–blocking, camera, choreography.

Then, of course, there is a nearly unbelievable snub in this category. I like Jennifer Lame’s work on Kenneth Lonergan’s gorgeous Manchester by the Sea, a film that hinges on flashbacks perfectly blended into the main storyline. I find it odd that the most solid story of the year missed here. Then again, I don’t know who to knock out. The technical achievements of Arrival and Hacksaw Ridge can’t be denied.

Anyway…best to all the nominees!

Happy Oscars, everybody!