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Editing prize not something to cut (or count) out

February 4, 2011 |  3:16 pm

What’s the most important awards ceremony remaining before the Academy Awards?

The obvious answer is Saturday’s Writers Guild of America awards, even though “The King’s Speech” isn’t eligible. But an arguably more important bellwether is Feb. 19’s Eddie Awards, the somewhat obscure trophies presented by the American Cinema Editors.

Over the last five years, the winning film of the Eddie has gone on to win the best picture Oscar. The only exception was when 2007’s “The Bourne Ultimatum” won the Eddie, a year in which “No Country for Old Men” was named the best picture. A year earlier, the editors split the prize between “Babel” and “The Departed,” with the latter film taking the top Academy Award.

Because the Eddies are presented to dramas and musicals or comedies (like the Golden Globes), the editing prizes have a better chance of predicting the Oscar winner. But a closer look at the film that wins the editing Academy Award reveals why this category is so crucial. In the last five years, the only movie that didn’t win the best picture statuette after taking the editing Oscar was “Bourne,” which was clearly a more ambitiously cut film than “No Country for Old Men.”

This year, four of the five Eddie nominees (in the drama category) are also nominated for the editing Academy Award: “The King’s Speech,” “The Social Network,” “The Fighter” and “Black Swan.” Oscar voters picked “127 Hours” for the fifth editing slot, while the Eddie voters chose “Inception.”

It’s not just its predictive powers that make the Eddies important.

If “The Social Network” doesn’t win the 61st annual Eddie honor, it likely might be on track to win only one Oscar out of eight nominations on Feb. 27—for adapted screenplay.

--John Horn

Matt Damon in "The Bourne Ultimatum." Credit: Universal Pictures