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The 75 Best-Edited Films of All-Time, According to Editors

Written by on February 6, 2015 

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In a field where “more” is often considered the “best,” editing can be a difficult art to delineate. We’ve shared a handful of various video essays and documentaries that do a commendable job at exploring the vitality of the process in cinema, and for even more, today we have a list from editors themselves on the finest examples in film.

Back in 2012, the Motion Picture Editors Guild conducted a poll for their 75th anniversary to pick the 75 best-edited films of all-time, and thanks to HitFix, they’ve alerted us to the list. Sitting at the top is Thelma Schoonmaker for her incredible work in Martin Scorsese‘s Raging Bull. The most mentioned, however, is Hitchcock collaborator George Tomasini with four films. Along with Schoonmaker, Dede Allen and Michael Kahn each got three nods.

While Inception made the cut, the most recent films are The Tree of Life (with five editors) and Hugo. Along with towering influential classics like Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin. and 2001: A Space Odyssey, two personal favorites that I’m glad were recognized were Steven Soderberghs The Limey and Out of Sight. As American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and Whiplash go toe-to-toe at this year’s Oscar ceremonies, check out what the experts in the editing field consider to be the best examples below.

1. “Raging Bull” (Thelma Schoonmaker, 1980)
2. “Citizen Kane” (Robert Wise, 1941)
3. “Apocalypse Now” (Lisa Fruchtman, Gerald B. Greenberg, Walter Murch, 1979)
4. “All That Jazz” (Alan Heim, 1979)
5. “Bonnie And Clyde” (Dede Allen, 1967)
6. “The Godfather” (William H. Reynolds, Peter Zinner, 1972)
7. “Lawrence of Arabia” (Anne V. Coates, 1962)
8. “Jaws” (Verna Fields, 1975)
9. “JFK” (Pietro Scalia, Joe Hutshing, 1991)
10. “The French Connection” (Gerald B. Greenberg, 1971)
11. “The Conversation” (Richard Chew, 1974)
12. “Psycho” (George Tomasini, 1960)
13. “Battleship Potemkin” (Grigori Aleksandrov, Sergei Eisenstein, 1925)
14. “Memento” (Dody Dorn, 2000)
15. “Goodfellas” (James Y. Kewi, Thelma Schoonmaker, 1990)
16. “Star Wars” (Richard Chew, T.M. Christopher, Marcia Lucas, George Lucas, Paul Hirsch, 1977)
17. “City of God (Cidade de Deus)” (Daniel Rezende, 2002)
18. “Pulp Fiction” (Sally Menke, 1994)
19. “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Ray Lovejoy, 1968)
20. “Dog Day Afternoon” (Dede Allen, 1975)
21. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Michael Kahn, 1981)
22. “The Godfather Part II” (Barry Malkin, Richard Marks, Peter Zinner, 1974)
23. “The Wild Bunch” (Lou Lombardo, 1969)
24. “Saving Private Ryan” (Michael Kahn, 1998)
25. “The Matrix” (Zach Staenberg, 1999)
26. “The Silence of the Lambs” (Craig McKay, 1991)
27. “Breathless” (À Bout De Soufflé)” (Cécile Decugis, 1960)
28. “Fight Club” (James Haygood, 1999)
29. “Requiem for a Dream” (Jay Rabinowitz, 2000)
30. “Cabaret” (David Bretherton, 1972)
31. “Chinatown” (Sam O’Steen, 1974)
32. “Moulin Rouge!” (Jill Bilcock, 2001)
33. “Seven Samurai” (Koichi Iwashita, Akira Kurosawa, 1954)
34. “Casablanca” (Owen Marks, 1942)
35. “Inception” (Lee Smith, 2010)
36. “Rope” (William H. Zeigler, 1948)
37. “Schindler’s List” (Michael Kahn, 1993)
38. “West Side Story” (Thomas Stanford, 1961)
39. “The Fugitive” (Dan Brochu, David Finfer, Dean Goodhil, Dov Hoenig, Richard Nord, Dennis Virkler, 1993)
40. “A Clockwork Orange” (Bill Butler, 1971)
41. “8 ½” (Leo Cattozzo, 1963)
42. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (Sheldon Kahn, Lynzee Klingman, 1975)
43. “Reds” (Dede Allen, Craig McKay1981)
44. “The Shining” (Ray Lovejoy, 1980)
45. “Days of Heaven” (Billy Weber, 1978)
46. “Ben-Hur” (Margaret Booth, John Dunning, Ralph E. Winters, 1959)
47. “Vertigo” (George Tomasini, 1958)
48. “Apollo 13” (Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill, 1995)
49. “Rear Window” (George Tomasini, 1954)
50. “Touch of Evil” (Edward Curtiss, Walter Murch, Aaron Stell, Virgil W. Vogel, 1958)
51. “Living Russia” (“Man with a Camera)” (Dziga Vertov, 1929)
=52. “The Graduate” (Sam O’Steen, 1967)
=52. “Out of Sight” (Anne V. Coates, 1998)
54. “High Noon” (Elmo Williams, 1952)
55. “Black Hawk Down” (Pietro Scalia, 2001)
56. “Titanic” (Conrad Buff IV, James Cameron, Richard A. Harris, 1997)
57. “The Limey” (Sarah Flack, 1999)
58. “The Exorcist” (Norman Gay, Jordan Leondopoulos, Bud S. Smith, Evan A. Lottman, 1973)
59. “Annie Hall” (Wendy Greene Bricmont, Ralph Rosemblum, 1977)
60. “Rashomon” (Akira Kurosawa, 1950)
=61. “Sherlock, Jr.” (Buster Keaton, Roy B. Yokelson, 1924)
=61. “Speed” (John Wright, 1994)
63. “L.A. Confidential” (Peter Honess, 1997)
64. “The Sound of Music” (William H. Reynolds, 1965)
65. “The Tree of Life” (Hank Corwin, Jay Rabinowitz, Daniel Rezende, Billy Weber, Mark Yoshikawa, 2011)
66. “The Bourne Ultimatum” (Christopher Rouse, 2007)
67. “Z” (Françoise Bonnot, 1969)
=68. “A Hard Day’s Night” (John Jympson, 1964)
=69. “Hugo” (Thelma Schoonmaker, 2011)
=69. “Midnight Cowboy” (Hugh A. Robertson, 1969)
69. “Miller’s Crossing” (Michael R. Miller, 1990)
72. “Blade Runner” (Gillian L. Hutshing, Marsha Nakashima, Terry Rawlings, 1982)
73. “Mulholland Dr.” (Mary Sweeney, 2001)
74. “Rocky” (Scott Conrad, Richard Halsey, 1976)
75. “North by Northwest” (George Tomasini, 1959)

What do you think of the list? Did any of your favorites miss the cut?

See the best-shot films of all-time, according to cinematographers.


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