At Saturday's ACE editing awards---where The Social Network won best dramatic feature, Exit Through the Gift Shop won best documentary, and Toy Story 3 won best animated feature, forecasting likely Oscar wins--I was moved by Steven Spielberg's warm tribute to ACE career award-winner Michael Kahn, age 75. (Video of show, tribute reel, interview with Kahn and full list of TV and film winners are below.)
The director has worked with the veteran editor for 35 years, on everything from the under-rated Empire of the Sun, starring the impossibly young Christian Bale, to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, Hook, Saving Private Ryan and The War of the Worlds, to mention a few. The audience of editors and dates in black tie was rapt during the clip reel. "Michael Kahn is as much an artist as Frank Gehry is an architect," says Spielberg. "He is my flashlight, letting me see the movie over and over again." Spielberg added that he and Kahn are "finally being pushed to evolve," he said, of cutting on film with Kahn, who got a rousing standing ovation at the Beverly Hilton from the editors. "Editing becomes your life," Kahn said, with a sigh.
That was a theme of the night. As indieWIRE editor-in-chief Dana Harris (@theknife) tweeted: "every winner has thanked his wife for her boundless tolerance. Film editing: the new martyrdom." Leo Trombetta, winner for Temple Grandin, best movie for television, said: "We spend every minute trying to make sure our work doesn't show and then we're disappointed when no one mentions us."
Of ACE Golden Eddie Award-winner Christopher Nolan, in the clip reel Michael Caine said that the writer-director "is like a laid-back razor blade." Presenter Aaron Eckhart described tea-drinker Nolan as possessing a wry wit and "consistent calm...He's fearless.. in reinventing franchises and inventing new ones." Nolan was also generous to his editor Lee Smith, who was tasked with making some sense out of Inception. "The combination of images is what I have always found most fascinating about editing," said Nolan. "At its best it is invisible and mysterious."
The Oscar question is, if The Social Network wins for editing, director and adapted screenplay, and The King's Speech wins original screenplay, actor and score, will The King's Speech still win best picture? I think so. But it is, needless to say, unusual. I am also changing my prediction on documentary from Inside Job to Exit Through the Gift Shop. But even though the top CAS sound prize went to True Grit Saturday night, I am sticking with Inception to win sound mixing and editing at the Oscars.
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (DRAMATIC):
The Social Network
Angus Wall, A.C.E. & Kirk Baxter
BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (COMEDY OR MUSICAL):
Alice in Wonderland
Chris Lebenzon, A.C.E.
BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
Toy Story 3
Ken Schretzmann & Lee Unkrich, A.C.E.
BEST EDITED HALF-HOUR SERIES FOR TELEVISION:
Modern Family: “Family Portrait”
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR COMMERCIAL TELEVISION:
The Walking Dead: “Days Gone Bye”
BEST EDITED ONE-HOUR SERIES FOR NON-COMMERCIAL TELEVISION:
Treme: “Do You Know What it Means”
Kate Sanford, A.C.E. & Alexander Hall
BEST EDITED MINISERIES OR MOTION PICTURE FOR TELEVISION:
Leo Trombetta, A.C.E.
BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY:
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Tom Fulford & Chris King
BEST EDITED REALITY SERIES:
If You Really Knew Me: "Colusa High"
Rob Goubeaux, Jeremy Gantz, Hilary Scratch, Ken Yankee, Mark S. Andrew, A.C.E., Heather Miglin, John Skaare & Paul J. Coyne
Ruben Jacques Sebban
David Poland interviews Kahn:
ACE's official awards video:
The Kahn Tribute reel: