What’s going on with the unpredictable 2019 Oscar race for Best Film Editing?

The Oscar for Best Film Editing could very well go to any of the five films that made the cut this year. The field includes “BlacKkKlansman” (Barry Alexander Brown) “Bohemian Rhapsody” (John Ottman) “The Favourite” (Yorgos Mavropsaridis) “Green Book” (Patrick J. Don Vito) and “Vice” (Hank Corwin). With three of these films winning the major precursor editing awards and the other two being strong contenders of their own, the winner of Best Film Editing is truly anyone’s guess.

Early indication was that “Roma” could pick up a victory here, considering its frontrunner status and its winning at multiple critics organizations. “First Man” also won many critics prizes for its editing including the Critics’ Choice Award. Neither was even nominated in the final lineup. “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “The Favourite” went on to win the ACE Eddie Awards for drama and comedy, respectively, giving us an indication that it might be between those two for the Oscar win. Then came BAFTA, which threw a wrench into everything by picking “Vice” as the editing achievement of the year.

In a race that could go any way, looking to the past can be a helpful guide. Throughout the 2010s so far, Oscar voters have generally picked the film with the flashiest editing to win here. Typically that means war/action films like “Dunkirk” (2017), “Hacksaw Ridge” (2016), “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) and “Gravity” (2013). There is no such film in the race this year. Looking further out, you see how Best Film Editing winners like “Whiplash” (2014), “Argo” (2012), “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2011) and “The Social Network” (2010) won in how there is a musicality and a rhythm in how they are put together.

All five nominees have that sense of propulsive rhythm driving them forward. Leaving out “BlacKkKlansman” and “Green Book” as the two non-precursor winners for the moment, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite” and “Vice” each have a strong editing style that could make them the chosen one of Oscar voters. “Bohemian Rhapsody” has multiple flashy music-driven editing showcases throughout the film, particularly the Live Aid sequence at the end. “The Favourite” juggles the perspectives of its three main characters while subtly shifting the film’s tone from scene to scene. “Vice” could be the case of Best Editing being given for the most editing, as the film’s wild, rapid-fire cuts and heavy use of archival footage are very noticeable.

As of this last week before the Oscars, Gold Derby odds have “Vice” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” ranked no. 1 and 2 to win Best Film Editing, with “The Favourite” tied with “BlacKkKlansman” right behind. While lacking the precursor wins of its competition, “BlacKkKlansman” and “Green Book” should not be counted out. “BlacKkKlansman’s” editing is reminiscent of “Argo” in how it balances different storylines while focusing mainly on a delicate operation that could go wrong. The way the film is calibrated to make the audience laugh or make them nervous or leave them wowed is a testament to its editing. As for “Green Book,” the breeziness with which it flows is part of how it resonates warmly with certain viewers, and considering how some are thinking it to be a top two contender in Best Picture, it is still very much in this race.

Depending on when Best Film Editing is presented in the telecast, it could give us a major indication of what’s to come in the “above-the-line” categories. An upset from “BlacKkKlansman” or “Green Book” might just indicate strong support in a wide-open Best Picture field.

PREDICT the Oscar winners now; change them until February 24

Be sure to check out how our experts rank this year’s Oscar contenders. Then take a look at the most up-to-date combined odds before you make your own 2019 Oscar predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before winners are announced on February 24.

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