According to this video essay, there are three types of editing that tend to lead to an Academy Award.
What does Oscar-worthy editing look like? Well, there's a lot of advice out there from editors like Walter Murch, Thelma Schoonmaker, and others who have won Academy Awards, much of which centers on finding that technical/creative sweet spot, but Fandor's Bill Rwehera offers up an interesting theories on the subject. In this video essay, he identifies 3 different kinds of editing that you can find in just about any film that wins the Oscar for Best Editing.
There are some important observations made in the video essay, namely the connection between winners of Best Picture and Best Editing. According to Rwehera, two-thirds of the films that win Best Picture also win Best Editing, which certainly reveals just how big of a role good editing plays in the overall quality of a film.
But what kinds of editing do these films have? The video essay names three categories that they tend to fall under:
- They have fast-paced editing
- They cut between different points of view
- They cut between different points in time
The awards tend to favor fast-paced editing with lots of quick cuts, and multi-layered editing which can be further divided into two categories: cutting back and forth between perspectives, and cutting across time through the use of flashbacks or flashforwards.
To be fair, there are plenty of films that do all three of these things but don't win Oscars, so no—this isn't a secret recipe for Oscar-worthy editing. There are plenty of other technical and creative techniques that great editors include in their work, however Rwehera makes a pretty convincing case for including quick cuts and multi-layered edits in your projects.