Editors Guild Selects 75 Best Edited Films of All Time

Now this is a list that could result in a lot of fascinating dissection and thanks to HitFix it comes to our attention almost three years after it was originally released back in 2012, celebrating the Motion Picture Editors Guild’s 75th anniversary. Over at HitFix, Kris Tapley asks, “Is this news to anyone else?” Um, yes, I find it immensely interesting and a perfect starting point for anyone looking to further explore the art of film editing.

In an accompanying article we get the particulars concerning what films were eligible and how films were to be considered:

In our JAN-FEB 12 issue, we asked Guild members to vote on what they consider to be the Best Edited Films of all time. Any feature-length film from any country in the world was eligible. And by “Best Edited,” we explained, we didn’t just mean picture; sound, music and mixing were to be considered as well. Members could submit up to 10 film titles, numbered in order of preference. From those votes, we compiled the resulting list, weighting the films accordingly, and arrived at the 75 you will find in the following pages.

Statistically speaking, we get the following breakdown when it comes to years, directors and editors cited:

The Years

  1. 1970s – 17 films
  2. 1990s – 16 films
  3. 1960s – 13 films
  4. 1950s – 8 films
  5. 2000s – 7 films
  6. 1980s – 5 films
  7. 1940s – 3 films

No films from the ’30s were selected and four years account for 3 films each on the list: 1969, 1974, 1999 and 2001. The winning year is 1974, with all 3 of its titles in the top 31 films.

The Directors

  1. 5 Films – Alfred Hitchcock
  2. 4 Films – Steven Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola
  3. 3 Films – Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese
  4. 2 Films – Terrence Malick, Bob Fosse, William Friedkin, Akira Kurosawa, Christopher Nolan, Ridley Scott, Steven Soderbergh, Orson Welles and Bob Wise

The Editors

  1. 4 Films – George Tomasini
  2. 3 Films – Dede Allen, Michael Kahn and Thelma Schoonmaker
  3. 2 Films – Richard Chew, Anne V. Coates, Gerald B. Greenberg, Akira Kurosawa, Ray Lovejoy, Craig McKay, Sam O’Steen, Jay Rabinowitz, William Reynolds, Daniel Rezende, Pietro Scalia, Billy Weber and Peter Zinner

Greenberg is the only editor to have 2 films — Apocalypse Now and The French Connection — place in the top 10; Schoonmaker has 2 — Raging Bull and Goodfellas — in the top 15, Chew has 2 — The Conversation and Star Wars — in the top 16, and Allen has 2 — Bonnie And Clyde and Dog Day Afternoon — in the top 20.

Finally, to the films, and thanks to HitFix for providing the list in an easy to digest format. It would be interesting to look over the list and see how many of these films missed out on an Oscar nomination or ended up losing to one not listed. As Tapley points out, Lee Smith‘s work on Christopher Nolan‘s Inception lands at #35 on the list and yet it wasn’t nominated for an Editing Oscar.


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