Friday, January 11, 2008

Best Film Editing (and Thelma Sighting)

So the ACE (American Cinema Editors) nominations were announced. Awards Daily, what would we do without ye? We've got...

Drama The Bourne Ultimatum, Into the Wild, Michael Clayton, No Country For Old Men and There Will Be Blood

...and while we're on the subject of Blood this is making me laugh. (God, that's catching on quickly) As for The Bourne Ultimatum. I agree it's a rush to watch but I worry about honoring this film with editing trophies. It's not that I don't think it's well edited. I do. It's that should it prove as influential, I worry. To me Bourne's editing has already achieved the pinnacle of the jarring "I don't know where I am or where the camera is or how any of this is happening spatially or timing wise...but...I'm excited anyway" thing. That's as good as it gets. From here on out, if editors and DPs keep pushing this type of lensing & cutting in combination, the movies --especially action movies --will become total abstractions. No relation to actual physical events, even violent ones, should be assumed. As ludicrous as some of the action sequences are in Live Free or Die Hard (a bit more old school) I found them especially fun to watch because you can (sort of) mostly tell where the characters are standing, running, being thrown to and where the vehicles / weapons are and where the walls of the building or elevator shaft are in relation to both characters and weapons. You know? I like to know where I am is what I'm saying.

Comedy Hairspray, Juno, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World End, Ratatouille and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

The editing nominations basically just go to the popular awardsy films... editing being one of the most difficult processes to judge since voters will never know what footage the editors ever had to work with. I like Juno well enough but I'm not so certain that its editing is anything special. I can get behind Hairspray and Ratatouille here, though. Their pacing, flow and energy seem well shaped or boosted. I was especially heartened to see that Adam Shankman as a director was not an unimaginative slave to the reaction shot during musical numbers. I H-A-T-E it when musicals take you out of the number repeatedly to make sure you know that people are watching the number. Ugh (I'm talking to Chris Columbus and Rent)

While on the subject of editors, I forgot to mention that I sat but one row behind the magnificent Thelma Schoonmaker at that Paul Thomas Anderson DGA event I posted about. Thelma of the three Oscar wins (The Departed, The Aviator and Raging Bull) and razor sharp eye for which frames to delete or splice together! While exiting the screening she was assaulted (in the non dangerous way) by a fan who stopped her to tell her how absolutely brilliant she was. She thanked him kindly, said goodbye to her movie-going companions and exited for the brisk night air on 57th street. I didn't have any particular disruptive inclination to follow suit or shout "Thelma, you rock!" as accompaniment for her exit, but my heart was beating a little faster as I left the building, I do freely admit.

Oscar Prediction Page (for the technicals)


Anonymous said...

Atonement. snubbed. again.

Anonymous said...

OMG I LOVE THELMA SCHOONMAKER! My college 35mm film repertory society screened a film by her husband, Michael Powell, and she graciously accepted our offer to come introduce the film and answer questions after the film. Afterwards I received an e-mail from her thanking me for our gift (I was in charge of picking it out) and it was one of the kindest thank you notes I have ever received. Not only is she an editing genius, but she is also a warm wonderful human being.

Anonymous said...

I think Atonement opportunities are almost dead... if The PGA forget about the film is official

adam k. said...

I find it a little offensive that the editors felt the need to honor Pirates instead of honoring Once OR Knocked Up. Oh well.

And it really does suck about Atonement... I thought it would get this one... its editing is pretty damn snappy, IMHO.

Catherine said...

I really don't understand editing. Can anyone tell me the difference between editing and just adhering to the script? Like, a lot of the time I'll think "Oh that was really well structured and paced, so it was well edited" but isn't that just script?

Sorry, this is an embarrassingly stoopid question


well structure is a script thing but editing does affect everything --especially pacing since it's all about rhythm of cuts within the scenes and the scenes up against one another and so on.

i would recommend the book "the conversations: walter murch and the art of editing film" to anyone interested in the topic. It's really fascinating

Anonymous said...

I'd have to say I do like the editing in Bourne Ultimatum. While some would say it's hard to tell where the characters are or where they're standing, to me that only brings out more the characters' many chaotic situations. I think if you were in some of those fights, shoot-outs, and hardcore chases, you'd forget where you are too.

Nashville, TN