One of the most reliable predictors of the Best Picture winner at the Oscars has been the Best Film Editing category. Only 10 films have taken home the big prize without at least contending for cutting since that category was introduced at the seventh Academy Awards in 1934.
Of this year’s eight Best Picture nominees, “Black Panther,” “Roma” and “A Star is Born” did not make the cut for Best Film Editing at the Oscars. In the hunt for that award are five of their Best Picture rivals: “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favourite,” “Green Book” and “Vice.”
The most recent film to defy this stat was “Birdman” three years ago; it did contend at the film editors guild awards for its seemingly seamless scenes. While “Black Panther” was snubbed by the guild, both “Roma” and “A Star is Born” number among the five nominees for best edited drama at the ACE Eddie Awards alongside “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “First Man.” “The Favourite,” “Green Book” and “Vice” face off against “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Deadpool 2” for best edited comedy at these kudos.
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Let’s take a look back at the 10 years in which the Best Picture winner was a film that did not, at the least, contend for Best Film Editing.
The first of these to do so was at the very Oscars that introduced the editing category: The screwball comedy “It Happened One Night” swept the big five awards in 1934 but did not number among the three nominees for Best Film Editing; that award went to the groundbreaking “Eskimo.”
Three years later, the lavish biopic “The Life of Emile Zola” won three of its 10 Oscar bids, including Best Picture. It did not contend for the cutting prize, which went to the fable “Lost Horizon.”
In 1948, “Hamlet” made history as the first foreign film to win Hollywood’s top honor. Laurence Olivier’s adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy won four of its seven races. The crime drama “The Naked City” won Best Film Editing.
In 1955, the bittersweet “Marty” went four for eight at the Academy Awards, including a Best Picture win. The Film Editing award went to the domestic drama “Picnic.”
The costume drama “Tom Jones” dominated the 1963 Oscars, taking home four awards (although not for any of the record three supporting actress contenders). Best Film Editing went to the epic “How the West Was Won.”
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Three years later another British import, “A Man for All Seasons” won six of its eight races. It was the high octane “Grand Prix” that won for film editing.
In 1974, 11-time nominee “The Godfather Part II” became the first sequel to win Best Picture and this crime drama prevailed in five of its other races. The disaster film “The Towering Inferno” won Best Film Editing.
In 1977, the comedy “Annie Hall” went four for five while the space sage “Star Wars” claimed the cutting award.
Three years later, the domestic drama “Ordinary People” won four of its six nominations, all above-the-line. The biopic “Raging Bull” won for film editing.
It took 34 years before another film — “Birdman” — was able to win Best Picture without at least a bid for Best Film Editing. That it didn’t contend for cutting was understandable as it made use of scenes that seemed like one long take. The hyper-intense “Whiplash” won Best Film Editing.
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