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Before the Gold: Best Film Editing

This month, we’re taking a look at this year’s Oscar nominees and digging into their past work to find hidden gems that you may have overlooked. One of the joys of this year’s Oscars is the abundance of first time Oscar nominees, especially in craft categories. Best Film Editing has a host of newbies. Four of the five nominees are first time nominees in this category. This makes for a very interesting series of “Before the Gold,” as all of them have had very different careers leading up to this nomination.

Alan Baumgarten

Nominated For: The Trial of the Chicago 7

Previous Nominations: American Hustle (2013)

Hidden Gem: Charlie Bartlett

Our lone previous nominee in this category is Alan Baumgarten. However, before he started working with Aaron Sorkin, Baumgarten made a career for himself editing many famous comedies, such as Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Meet the Fockers and Zombieland. One of his best movies is the charming high school comedy Charlie Bartlett. The late, great Anton Yelchin plays the titular character, who starts his own underground psychiatric practice in his high school. The film has a lot of heart, which Baumgarten manages to put front and center even above the main laughs. 

Yorgos Lamprinos

Nominated For: The Father

Previous Nominations: First-Time Nominee

Hidden Gem: Xenia

The Father represents the first mainstream UK production for Yorgos Lamprinos. The Greek editor had worked primarily on European productions. One of his most acclaimed projects before The Father was Xenia, a Greek road trip drama. Two brothers, one gay and one straight, journey from Athens to Thessaloniki in search of their Father after their Mother’s death. The film was Greece’s official selection for Best Foreign Language Film in 2014, the year Son of Saul won.

Mikkel E.G. Nielsen

Nominated For: Sound of Metal

Previous Nominations: First-Time Nominee

Hidden Gem: A Royal Affair

In his two decades long career, Mikkel E.G. Nielsen has started to see a career renaissance in the past several years. The Danish editor’s career turning point came with Nikolaj Arcel’s worldwide hit, A Royal Affair. The romance kicked off the ascendance of Alicia Vikander, who would win Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl in 2015. The costume drama gives ample time for Vikander’s Caroline to fall for the physician Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mads Mikkelsen). Nielsen’s editing highlights the chemistry between the two and often presents interesting contrasts in speed and intensity compared to the tempestuous relationship Caroline has with her insane husband, King Christian VII (Mikkel Boe Folsgaard).

Frédéric Thoraval

Nominated For: Promising Young Woman

Previous Nominations: First-Time Nominee

Hidden Gem: Taken

It’s incredibly heartening to see Promising Young Woman nominated in Film Editing, as editor Frédéric Thoraval is able carefully weave together the different tones into a cohesive, and oftentimes funny, revenge thriller. Thoraval’s career was made up of mostly action films beforehand, which is a genre the editors branch used to honor often (see Speed’s win in 1994). Of his prior films, the sleeper hit Taken features the greatest use of his skills. Each action sequence builds on top one another like a demented jenga tower. Thoraval knows how to not only make each punch land, but he helps structure the film to make it seem like an exhausting couple of days. Thanks to his clear editing, we feel that Liam Neeson has not had a break or a rest between set pieces, which is necessary for the rising tension.

Chloé Zhao

Nominated For: Nomadland

Previous Nominations: First-Time Nominee (in this category); Also Nominated This Year for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay

Hidden Gem: The Rider (for Directing)

Zhao’s credits as a Film Editor are very scarce. Other than her shorts, the only feature she edited before Nomadland was Songs My Brother Taught Me. If Nomadland taught us anything, it’s that Chloé Zhao’s talents know no bounds. With four nominations this year, she has become the most nominated woman ever in a single Oscars. Her talents were clearly on display with her previous film, The Rider. Working with editor Alex O’Flynn, Zhao crafted a beautiful, meditative and heartfelt exploration of passion in the face of adversity. The film tells the story of a cowboy (Brady Jandreau) who must find a new passion after a near fatal head injury makes it so he can’t ride horses or rodeo anymore.

What are your favorite films from the nominated editors? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by Chris James

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