While it’s typically actors and directors who get to enjoy the greatest amount of praise through any year in cinema, certainly one of the greatest aspects of the award season is the opportunity to take a deep look at the below-the-line work that’s done to make the great films as great as they are.
In this spectrum, editors play an incredibly vital role, as many filmmakers would tell you that it’s in the cutting room that a movie is truly uncovered for what it is. A result of this is that the distinction of being considered the Best-Edited Movie Of All Time is quite an impressive one – which makes this recently discovered Top 75 ranking list all the more interesting.
Though it actually originates from 2012, HitFix has recently uncovered The Motion Picture Editors Guild's list of the 75 Best-Edited Films Of All Time, and, as you might imagine, it’s a rather impressive list.
10. "The French Connection"
It’s pretty damn difficult to have a conversation about William Friedkin’s The French Connection without a discussion of its epic, incredible chase sequences, and while there are certainly many people responsible for the thrills – from the actors, to the cinematographers to the stunt drivers – but it was Gerald B. Greenberg (who you’ll see again on this list) who took all that work and stitched it together to make some of the most electrifying sequences ever to be put up on the silver screen. There are surprisingly few action movies that wound up making this Top 10 list, but The French Connection certainly belongs ranked among the greats.
Controversial as the subject matter may be, Oliver Stone’s JFK is a shining example of excellent filmmaking in all of its parts. It has what can easily be considered one of the greatest casts of the 20th century, and weaves an utterly fascinating conspiracy tale and chronicles everything from history-changing, shady backroom dealings to courtroom drama.
It’s a hell of a lot of material and packed into a nearly 200 minute movie, but Joe Hutshing and Pietro Scalia’s editing work keeps it a seamless, tight narrative that enhances both the cinematography and the incredibly drama. Movie-goers can argue all they want about the veracity of Jim Garrison’s findings and beliefs, but one can’t argue just how well put-together JFK is.
For what really should be rather obvious reasons, editing is an immensely important part of filmmaking in the horror genre. It takes an expert hand to know exactly how long or short a particular shot should be in order to maximize the shock factor, and for that reason Verna Fields deserves an incredible deal of credit for making Steven Spielberg’s Jaws just as effective as it is.
The use of switching perspectives during the shark attack sequences is brilliant and terrifying, and the back and forth cuts in this sequence in particular is utterly mesmerizing.
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