In the Oscar race for Best Picture, “Captain Phillips” has a strong edge – that mysterious connection between the top Oscar contest and the below-the-line category for Best Editing. Its editor, Christopher Rouse, is a proven winner and multiple nominee: he won for “The Bourne Ultimatum” and was also nominated for “United 93,” both directed by “Phillips” helmer Paul Greengrass.
Since 1981, every Best Picture winner has at least been nominated in this category. And of those 32 races, 16 editing champs went on to win the top prize, including last year’s winner, “Argo.”
Because editing is a non-visual art, it is not as easy to identify trends among winners. Action-packed and suspense-driven films often prevail, including “The Hurt Locker,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Black Hawk Down,” and “The Matrix.”
Lavish epics also frequently win, like “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” and “The Aviator.”
“Traffic” and “Crash” won in large part for juggling multiple characters and storylines, while “Slumdog Millionaire” and “The Social Network” featured complex flashback structures.
In addition to “Captain Phillips,” other action-filled contenders include Ron Howard‘s racing drama “Rush,” edited by Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill, who won this category for editing Howard’s “Apollo 13.”
“Apollo” featured astronauts stranded in space, and a similar film may also be among this year’s nominees: the technically audacious 3D film “Gravity,” directed and co-edited by Alfonso Cuaron, who previously earned an editing bid for “Children of Men.”
Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers were surprise nominees last year for David O. Russell‘s “Silver Linings Playbook“; it’s rare for a romantic comedy to contend for Best Editing. This year, they could be nominated again for Russell’s 1980s-set crime film “American Hustle.”
Previous Oscar-winning editors with films in the mix also include Stephen Mirrione, who won in 2000 for “Traffic” and is eligible this year for “August: Osage County” and “The Monuments Men.” Frequent Ridley Scott collaborator Pietro Scalia has won twice (“JFK,” “Black Hawk Down”) and aims for a third win for Scott’s latest film, “The Counselor.”
Review all the top contenders and make your predictions below: