Chasing the Gold: Best Editing Nominees Analysis (2021 Oscars)
It is always hard to predict what the Academy will go for with the Best Editing category. Recently, there has been a trend of going for the “most edited” award, hence how films such as Ford v Ferrari and Bohemian Rhapsody were able to take home the prize. It is a major award and can be used as a way to show a strength of confidence in a film, especially tied to the Best Picture category. However, what is going to win the award for Best Editing this year? Let’s break down the contenders.
The Father – If you were to ask an Oscars pundit what the best part of The Father is, many would point out the use of editing to tell the story and bring the world to life. It is fantastic to see the Academy honor the film with a nomination here, but unfortunately, the editing is more clever and subtle than flashy, meaning it has failed to win any of the times it has made it to the nomination. To see it get recognized here seems to be the winner for the Academy and a sign that they might be looking at Best Editing through a different perspective than previously.
Nomadland – For Nomadland to be the clear frontrunner as it is for Best Picture, it had to get a Best Editing nomination. However, there is certainly no urgency to reward editor Chloé Zhao here as she will already be taking home Picture and Director and prepares to be a threat for Adapted Screenplay. Once again, this is not the flashy editing that the Academy tends to choose as their winner and it has failed to win any of the major editing awards, leaving this simply as a necessary nomination for the pathway to Best Picture.
Promising Young Woman – This was a big nomination for Promising Young Woman as it became only one of two films aside from Nomadland to score major nominations in Screenplay, Director, Picture, and Editing. Many people are predicting the film to already get Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay, which is certainly looking like the case. However, if the film also received Best Editing, wouldn’t that make the film a huge threat for Best Picture? It seems like that is certainly not happening, so I do not feel confident enough to say this film is going to win in the Editing category (even if the editing is showier than most here).
Sound of Metal – There is one incredibly important start that has started to formulate a pathway for Sound of Metal to get a surprise Editing win, and that is to do with the heavy link of the Sound category. Whenever a film does well in the Sound category, it also does well in the Editing category – see Ford v Ferrari and Bohemian Rhapsody as two very good examples of that. Sound of Metal has managed to surprise at both the Critics’ Choice (a tied win with The Trial of the Chicago 7) and with a win at the BAFTAs, so it is worth keeping an eye on it for the Oscars.
The Trial of the Chicago 7 – For a long time, it felt like this race was done with The Trial of the Chicago 7. This is a film that is filled with editing, fancy cuts, montages, and flashback sequences. Even when this film stopped being a Sound contender, many people predicted it – and some still are – to go all of the way. However, the film felt like it was losing steam until the recent win at the ACE Eddie Awards. With that small boost, is it enough to give the film a solo win for Best Editing? It’s certainly the most noticeable part of that film and would be a worthy winner.
Who Will Win?
When I originally wrote this piece before the ACE Eddie Awards were revealed, I said that Sound of Metal was going to take home the award. Now, I am starting to believe that this will be the place where the Academy Awards The Trial of the Chicago 7 with a win. It is the most flashy film of the selection, it is struggling to find another place to win an award on the night, and the win at the ACE Eddie Awards just secure the backing for that film in the editing branch. Unlike other previous winners in the Best Editing category, it will not be a bad choice either. There is certainly still a chance that Sound of Metal wins this award, but I would take it off your ballot for this moment.
Who Should Win?
When talking about the Best Editing in a film, to me there is only one correct choice this year. No other film took the limits of editing as far as The Father to create such a compelling story and yet making it seamless, all through the use of cuts, camera shots, and the impeccable pacing that came with this quick 90-minute film. The best-edited films are the ones that you appreciate afterwards and admire the simplicity and effortless nature of them, not necessarily the flashiest or most notable cuts. Even if some of the best editing work will get rewarded this year, it won’t be the strongest with The Father losing.