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  • Sheldon Gaskell

2020 Oscar Predictions: Best Film Editing

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

Nominees: Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker (Ford v Ferrari), Thelma Schoonmaker (The Irishman), Tom Eagles (Jojo Rabbit), Jeff Groth (Joker), Yang Jin-mo (Parasite)

Will Win: Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker (Ford v Ferrari)

Runners-up: Yang Jin-mo (Parasite), Thelma Schoonmaker (The Irishman)

Should Win: Yang Jin-mo (Parasite)

Runners-up: Thelma Schoonmaker (The Irishman), Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker (Ford v Ferrari)

My Choice: Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie (Uncut Gems)

My Nominees: Yang Jin-mo (Parasite), Thelma Schoonmaker (The Irishman), Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker (Ford v Ferrari), Louise Ford (The Lighthouse)

Runners-up: Jennifer Lame (Marriage Story), Tom Eagles (Jojo Rabbit), David Marks (The Last Black Man in San Francisco), Jeff Groth (Joker)

In Ford v Ferrari, Andrew Buckland and Michael McCusker utilize the fast, flashy cutting style beloved by Academy voters. Like last year's winner Bohemian Rhapsody, the editing in this film is striking and shocking in its distinct juxtaposition of shots, rising the viewers' tension in scenes of intensity by abruptly shifting from Ken Miles' (Christian Bale) stern face behind the wheel / to gear shift / to foot pressing pedal / to faces of onlookers holding their breaths / to first-person perspective of car racing forward / to birds eye of car passing another speeding car / to Ken Miles' face again / to Carroll Shelby's (Matt Damon) face / to car speeding around a bend / to television screen, and so on. Unlike last year's winner, Ford v Ferrari is precise in its style and acutely aware of perspective as it plunges viewers tumultuously into the heat, exhaust, and roaring motor of the race.

As impressive is the pacing of Ford v Ferrari, it is impossible to ignore the ingenuity of Yang Jin-mo's editing in Parasite. The film is marvelous in its ability to use the visual language of montage to progress the viewer with the plot without revealing the intricacies of future twists and turns in the narrative. The pacing is tight and elevates the viewing experience to universal status through impeccable thematic shot associations. The large array of character motivations across families would have additionally been nearly impossible to represent so distinctly without such an impressive editor at the helm.

The unspoken gem of the season for editing is Ronald Bronstein and Benny Safdie's work in Uncut Gems. This is a film that not only understands how to cut a thriller dramatically, but to do so with such overwhelming, stressful urgency that the viewer is nearly forced into cardiac arrest. The film begins with a sequence of miners seeking opals in a dangerous mine. A crowd of shouting workers drag a man who has suffered a broken leg. The film quickly cuts from angry faces to bone sticking out of leg in mangled fractures to reporters and then suddenly to two men navigating the crumbling remains of a caved-in mine, hammering away at the sandy rock and revealing a beautiful gem lodged in stone. The camera zooms into the gem with a series of seamless celestial cuts where reality merges with the star-burst cosmos at the center of the stone and we as the viewers are taken on a journey through time and space, witnessing what we presume are the pressures of the earth forming the gem millions of years prior. More cuts reveal the crystalline patterns of the cavern transitioning into soft, wet, and fleshy cavities. Suddenly, the camera zooms out with another series of seamless cuts and we are observing a screen depicting a rectal examination in process. We soon realize that we have been observing the pressures building within the protagonist Howard Ratner's bowels as he's tested for colon cancer. This entire sequence feels like a singular shot when in reality it is a masterfully woven series of hundreds of shots perfectly melded to produce a thematic groundwork for the narrative. Moments like these as well as the incredible, heart-thumping tension created in each scene makes Uncut Gems the standout work of editing in 2019.

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