Can ’12 Years a Slave’ win Best Picture without editing Oscar nomination?

Only nine movies have won Best Picture at the Oscars without at least being nominated for the editing prize since it was introduced in 1934. The last of these was “Ordinary People” in 1980. 

While “12 Years a Slave” is currently in first place to win Best Picture, only one of our Experts — Thom Geier (EW) — expects it to take Best Editing too. Thirteen of our 18 Oscarologists forecasting this race predict “Gravity will prevail while four forecast a win for “Captain Phillips.”

12 Years a Slave” is in third place because enough of our Experts have ranked it in their top five. The rest of the lineup is rounded out by the yet-to-screen “American Hustle” and the high-octane “Rush“.

But what of sixth-place contender “The Wolf of Wall Street“? That still-unseen Martin Scorsese picture was cut by his long-time collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker who has three Oscars already for their joint efforts — “Raging Bull” (1980), “The Aviator” (2004) and “The Departed” (2006). 

Will the editors branch of the academy nominate Schoonmaker for an eighth time, which would tie the record of Michael Kahn? And, if so, who won’t make the cut with them?

Gravity” was put together by helmer Alfonso Cuaron who contended in this category in 2006 for “Children of Men” and Mark Sanger.

Christopher Rouse won in 2007 for his work with “Captain Phillips” director Paul Greengrass on “The Bourne Ultimatum” and was part of the team nominated for his “United 93” the previous year. 

“12 Years a Slave” was edited by Joe Walker who has yet to reap an Oscar bid.

Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers were nominated last year for their collaboration with “American Hustle” director David O. Russell on “Silver Linings Playbook.” Cassidy was also cited in 2007 for “Into the Wild.”

Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill won in 1995 for their efforts with “Rush” director Ron Howard on “Apollo 13.” They were also nominated for Howard’s “A Beautiful Mind” (2001), “Cinderella Man” (2005) and “Frost/Nixon” (2008). 

Just how important is it for a Best Picture winner to contend in the editing category?

Even surprise Best Picture champs such as “Gladiator” (2000), “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “Chariots of Fire” (1981), “The Greatest Show on Earth” (1952), “An American in Paris” (1951), and “Rebecca” (1940) could boast of bids for editing.

Best Picture wins by “Crash” over “Brokeback Mountain” in 2005 and “The Departed” over PGA and SAG champ “Little Miss Sunshine” in 2006 were in the cards as those also-rans had been snubbed in the editing race.

The first film to win Best Picture without even a nod for editing was “It Happened One Night.” That screwball comedy swept the major categories in 1934 while “Eskimo” won the first Oscar for editing. 1934 marked the first year that Oscar voters chose from 12 Best Picture nominees.

In 1935, a dozen films were also in the running when “Mutiny on the Bounty” prevailed in the top race; the high seas adventure was also in contention for Best Editing, losing to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” The Best Picture race was then pared down to 10 from 1936 to 1943. In those eight years, all the Best Picture champs — with the exception of “The Life of Emile Zola” in 1937 — had at least an editing nomination. Only 1939 Best Picture winner “Gone With the Wind” also won the editing race.

Since the Best Picture category went to five nominees in 1944, seven films have won the top Oscar without an editing nomination: “Hamlet” (1948), “Marty” (1955), “Tom Jones” (1963), “A Man for All Seasons” (1966), “The Godfather, Part II” (1974), “Annie Hall” (1977), and “Ordinary People” (1980).

Of the nine Best Picture winners that went without an editing nomination, seven won Best Director and the other two had nominated helmers. The Best Director category has lined up with Best Picture 64 times over 85 years. In its first quarter century, the academy shared the wealth 11 times while during the last six decades, there have been only 10 occasions when the year’s Best Director did not helm the Best Picture. However, four of those occurred in the last decade, including in 2005 when “Crash” director Paul Haggis lost to Ang Lee for “Brokeback Mountain.”

While “Crash” did win the Oscar for editing, only 42 of the 79 editing awards have gone to Best Picture champs. From 1934 to 1952 (the academy’s silver anniversary) these awards lined up only twice. Since then, 40 of the 60 Best Picture winners were also the best edited with seven of the last 10 top films winning both awards, including “Argo” last year.

However, in the last decade, only four Best Picture winners — “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003), “The Departed” (2006), “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008) and “The Hurt Locker” (2009) — took home both Best Director and Best Editing.

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