Reviews | The Oscars fitting award will not be presented live. It is a mistake.
Think of a film as a house. The scenario is the assembly of materials, brick and mortar. You have dialogue, settings and characters, but it’s still just words on a page; they must be assembled into something greater. The set is where most of the visible work is done as far as the outsiders are concerned – director and cinematographer teaming up to pour the foundations, frame the walls and put up a roof. But walls and roof don’t make a house, and assembly is the process by which a shelter becomes a house. Assembly is akin to the complex work of wiring and installing drywall and placing all the appliances that make the difference between a nice and a great house.
So it was rather disappointing to see the Academy sacrifice the editing award (and seven others) for the simple reason that the show is too long and “normal viewers” don’t care. The decision prompts people to wonder exactly what they think people are looking at during an awards show, if not awards.
A legitimate concern is that the quality of the edit itself can be difficult to judge. “So many misconceptions exist about editing, especially among critics,” wrote Sidney Lumet in his classic book, “Making Movies.” “I read that a certain image was ‘beautifully edited.’ There’s no way they can know how good or bad it was edited…. In my opinion, only three people know how good or bad the editing was: the editor, the director, and the cameraman.
On top of that, many people misunderstand what editing is. East. I’ve seen people suggest that “Pulp Fiction” was well edited because of how the short stories that make up the overall picture intersect. But that’s praise for Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay, not Sally Menke’s editing. Editors are generally not responsible for story structure or image length, although they can play a role in mood.
For that, watch Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time…In Hollywood.” One of the most fascinating things about this image is how editor (and Menke protege) Fred Raskin cuts the middle section’s three intertwining storylines to bounce between comedic feel and horror movie beats.
But even many movie buffs just don’t know how to research that. So why shouldn’t the Oscars help them? Rather than diminish publishers in hopes of attracting an audience that doesn’t really care about the movies, the Academy should use the award as a way to educate those who don’t have time to read the definitive tomes. on the assembly. What editors do, how they help shape an image, how they choose which frames to cut on – those things are important.
Alternatively, the Academy could simply accept that the Oscar for Editing is one of the categories most likely to reward popular films with audiences. Between 2013 and 2020, winners included ‘Ford v Ferrari’, ‘Dunkirk’, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ and ‘Gravity’. The second highest-grossing winner of this period, “Hacksaw Ridge”, grossed more domestically than all but two of the top winners of the same period. (One of the two, “Argo”, also won Best Editing.)
Indeed, the popularity of winners in this category sometimes makes one cringe, like when “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the 2019 editing award. But even then, there’s something to be said for rewarding both an editor which helped save a movie the director literally walked out on, and also a movie that was a massive worldwide hit, grossing nearly $911 million.
Rather than introducing a “popular movies” category as envisioned in 2018, or shamelessly trying to get attention by having people vote on Twitter for their favorites as if the Oscars were the MTV Movie Awards, the Academy should look into categories such as editing that truly celebrate the art of cinema. Foolishly pursuing a mythical audience of “normal viewers” who won’t show up anyway risks alienating the core audience that has remained over the years. And the Oscars can’t risk losing too much if they want to stay on the air.