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What makes a film worthy of the Academy Award for best editing?

Two film editors share what makes a movie stand out as a contender for the Academy Award for best editing.
Posted at 8:27 PM, Feb 22, 2023

Films are a culmination of writing, sound, picture and performance. After shoots are wrapped, it's the job of the editor to put it all together.

Running the gamut of comedy, drama, sci-fi and action — this year's Academy Award nominees for best editing are: "The Banshees of Inisherin," "Elvis," "Everything Everywhere All At Once," "Tár" and "Top Gun: Maverick."

But what makes editing Oscar-worthy?

"It's when I get lost in something and I forget that I'm experiencing a constructed thing," said Ernie Gilbert, a film editor.

"It's good editing if you don't notice it," said Brian Loschiavo, a filmmaker and editor.

Based in Los Angeles, Gilbert is the editor behind recent films like Prime Video's romantic comedy "Somebody I Used To Know," as well as series like FX's "Atlanta" and music videos for songs like Childish Gambino's "This Is America."

Tennessee-based filmmaker Loschiavo is best known for documentaries like "Bluebird," about one of Nashville's iconic cafés and music venues.

Both of them described editing for film as finding the rhythm of each scene and setting the right pace for the story.

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"Sometimes when it's heavy handed, it feels too choppy," Loschiavo said. "But sometimes great scenes in a movie have two or three edits, and you don't even think about them."

"There's times for flashy editing, there's time for edits that don't draw attention to themselves and kind of knowing what's going to serve your story the best," Gilbert said.

"I find that a lot of great editors are also musicians because I think there's a rhythm to it," Loschiavo said.

There's no one way to edit a film, and styles vary by genre. So who are some of this year's biggest contenders?

"Obviously 'Top Gun.' I mean, action is a whole other beast when it comes to editing," Loschiavo said.

"'Top Gun' is just like what a visceral experience as far as editing goes," Gilbert said.

"'Elvis' was one that when I saw the runtime, I had a feeling that I would come out of it thinking that could have been half an hour shorter," Loschiavo said. "I thought that is an excellently edited film for the reason that I didn't feel that way."

"'Everything, Everywhere, All At Once,' cut by Paul Rogers — that film, I can't even think about like distinct moments as much as just like what I was feeling and the onslaught of just maximalist imagery," Gilbert said.

Each of this year's Oscar nominees for best editing are also major contenders for the American Cinema Editors Awards, also known as the "Eddies." That ceremony will take place March 5, a week before the Academy Awards, and honors the work of editors across film and television.

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