‘O.J.: Made In America’ at Oscars: Will it become 3rd documentary nominated for Best Editing?

Ezra Edelman’s blockbuster documentary about the rise and fall of NFL legend O.J. Simpson has been on a roll since its premiere at Sundance last year. With a 96 on Metacritic and a certified fresh rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, “O.J.: Made In America” has received universal acclaim. Its qualifying runs in New York City and Los Angeles have put it in the awards conversation. So far, it has swept the majority of the critics awards and has been nominated for the key industry guilds. As of this writing, the doc has 7/4 odds to win Best Documentary Feature based on the predictions of our 23 film experts. But can the timely doc also make it into Best Film Editing at the Oscars?

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It’s not as crazy as you think. After all, the editing trio of Bret Granato, Maya Mumma and Ben Sozanski were awarded the Los Angeles Critics Association award for Best Film Editing. If “O.J.: Made In America” receives an editing nomination on Tuesday, it would be the third doc to be nominated in the category throughout Oscar history. The documentary would also be the longest feature ever to be nominated in the category’s storied history with a running time of 467 minutes.

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The first time this happened was in 1971 for the groundbreaking “Woodstock” documentary, the most nominated doc of all time at the Oscars. It was also nominated for Best Sound Mixing and Best Documentary Feature, which it won. This was celebrated editor Thelma Schoonmaker’s first nomination. She would go on to receive an additional six nominations and win three for cutting collaborator Martin Scorsese films “The Aviator,” “The Departed” and “Raging Bull.” She is in contention this year for Scorsese’s religious passion project “Silence.” The second documentary nominated in this category was “Hoop Dreams” (1994). The iconic documentary about two black kids from Chicago chasing their dreams of playing professional basketball was shockingly snubbed in the Best Documentary Feature category that year, but William Haugse, Steve James and Frederick Marx were still recognized for their editing work.

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“O.J.: Made in America” faces an uphill battle in the Best Film Editing Oscar race. The majority of the nominees in the history of this category have a corresponding Best Picture nomination, making it tough for a documentary to break in and this year is no exception. The frontrunner to win is contemporary musical “La La Land,” edited by Tom Cross who won here for “Whiplash” (2014). Jennifer Lame (“Manchester by the Sea”) and Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders (“Moonlight”) are all vying for their first nominations for their indie dramas. Rounding out the category are a pair of genre flicks cut by former nominees: sci-fi drama “Arrival” by Joe Walker, a previous nominee for “12 Years a Slave,” and war drama “Hacksaw Ridge” by John Gilbert, who was previously nominated for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

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