I don't put a lot of stock in the Academy Awards. Oh sure, I love that we get a fancy awards show that spotlights movies, but the program comes with so much irritating baggage that I can't help but try and tune it out until Oscar night actually appears.
But I recently saw an excellent indie film that deserves mention for a variety of things, but most specifically for its masterful editing. The movie is called Martha Marcy May Marlene, and on the whole it is a powerfully impressive story about a young woman who escapes from a creepy cult, only to have a lot of trouble getting used to "normal life" with her estranged sister. This fantastic indie is not only one of the best films I've seen all year, and not only does it feature some truly excellent components, but it may be one of the most beautifully edited films I've ever seen.
First-time writer-director Sean Durkin and film editor Zachary Stuart-Pontier tackle this fascinating character study with an editorial approach that slips effortlessly between its two stories -- and every time the movie switches between alternating tales, the quiet, subtle, frankly brilliant editorial style offers the viewer another facet to the tragedy, another pointed comment on the drama, or another clue as to the internal struggle of our beleaguered lead character. The three leads -- Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, and John Hawkes -- deliver flawless work, and Martha Marcy May Marlene is frequently bolstered by sharp dialogue, evocative music, and a palpable sense of quiet intimacy, but it's the editing that elevates the film into something truly special.
I took to the twitter pipes to share my thoughts on the movie in general and the editing in particular, but most of the Oscar gurus I know say that Martha Marcy May Marlene has no shot at getting nominated for Best Editing. If that is true, then the Oscars are truly a farce. I beseech any and all Academy members to sit down with this excellent film and see what they think. And please do pay close attention to the editing.