Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011

Best Film Editing

Black Swan, Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter, Pamela Martin (WINNER)
The King's Speech, Tariq Anwar
127 Hours, Jon Harris
The Social Network, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall

Where's Thelma Schoonmaker? Martin Scorsese's invaluable editing-room colleague is among the most revered practitioners in her field — she's been Oscar-nominated six times, winning three (for Raging Bull, The Aviator and The Departed) — but was denied a citation for her exemplary work on Scorsese's Shutter Island. That leaves three movies in which lots of stuff happens: dancing in Black Swan, boxing in The Fighter and sawing in 127 Hours. Kudos to Weisblum, for meshing the closeups of Natalie Portman's face in motion with other shots of Portman's balletic stunt double, and to Harris, for catching Danny Boyle's flashy-splashy-slashy rhythms and concocting kinetic excitement in a single confined space.

Then there are the two films in which people talk about stuff happening: The King's Speech and The Social Network. Piles of smart money has been laid on the Facebook film in this category, and it's certainly a talkathon that gives the impression of being a movie that moves. But we're going old-school and choosing The Fighter. If there's one thing the Academy membership knows about films set in the ring, it's that they require a cutting style that is both smooth and showy. Four times before, the Best Film Editing Oscar has gone to a boxing film: Body and Soul, Champion, Rocky and Raging Bull. (Five, if you stretch a point and include On the Waterfront.) Granted, the Mark Wahlberg movie is a long shot, but we'll be as pleased as we are surprised if The Fighter scores an Editing knockout.