Kirk Baxter is in that rarefied group of people who reaped Oscar bids for each of their first three film. Along with Angus Wall, Baxter was nominated for Best Film Editing of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), “The Social Network” (2010), and this year’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The Facebook drama earned the duo their first trophies at last year’s ceremony when presenters Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law called out their names.
In a video chat with senior editors Chris Beachum and Rob Licuria, Baxter recalls that moment: “It was just a joy, from start to finish … you got to go on the other side of the curtain.” As for his impressive nomination streak, Baxter admits to being, “very lucky; you wouldn’t put bets on the odds.”
All three Oscar bids came for their collaboration with director David Fincher — “the common denominator.” As Baxer wryly admits, “He’s the secret sauce, and I’m kind of a passenger on his train.”
“He’s a terrific director to work for,” Baxter says. “He’s very very patient, he understands the editing process extremely well, so he knows it takes time to perfect it, and he knows how to coax you along to get the best out of you. I think that is where David’s real genius is; he gets the best out of everybody around him.”
For “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Baxter and Wall were faced with the daunting prospect of cutting together an extensive amount of footage. “With Fincher’s coverage, he gets extensive angles, and they’re all extremely useful for any particular scene he’s setting up,” which Baxter says allowed them to “hone in, and get quite aggressive with the editing.” According to Baxter, “there are very few scenes in Fincher’s films that are simplistic … [and] that alone makes editing stand out on a Fincher film.”
Last year, Baxter was left off the list of 178 artists and executives invited by the Academy to join its roster of members, which include his co-editor Wall. Now that Baxter has racked up an impressive third nomination, perhaps he might make the cut when the Academy announces its list of new invitees later this year.