Back to IndieWire

The 75 Best Edited Films Of All Time

The 75 Best Edited Films Of All Time

The 87th Academy Awards are barely two weeks away, and on that night, one of five films will win the Oscar for Best Film Editing. Which will it be: “Whiplash,” “Boyhood,” “American Sniper,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” or “The Imitation Game”? Perhaps a more interesting question is, do you think any of them deserve a spot on the list of the 75 Best Edited Films of All Time, as selected by the Motion Picture Editors Guild?

That’s right, in the May-June issue of “Editors Guild Magazine,” guild members weighed in on the 75 best-edited films ever. It’s important to note that titles were chosen based on the strength of both their picture and sound editing. And granted, the list is over two and a half years old at this point (the votes were collected in 2012), so there’s a chance it might look a little different if it had come out more recently. Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger won for “Gravity” at last year’s Oscars, and William Goldenberg took home the statue for “Argo” at the 85th Academy Awards. But let’s assume for now the list is up to date.

The Top Ten films according to the guild are as follows:

1. “Raging Bull” (edited by Thelma Schoonmaker, 1980)
2. “Citizen Kane” (edited by Robert Wise, 1941)
3. “Apocalypse Now” (edited by Lisa Fruchtman, Gerald B. Greenberg, Walter Murch, 1979)
4. “All That Jazz” (edited by Alan Heim, 1979)
5. “Bonnie And Clyde” (edited by Dede Allen, 1967)
6. “The Godfather” (edited by William H. Reynolds, Peter Zinner, 1972)
7. “Lawrence of Arabia” (edited by Anne V. Coates, 1962)
8. “Jaws” (edited by Verna Fields, 1975)
9. “JFK” (edited by Pietro Scalia, Joe Hutshing, 1991)
10. “The French Connection” (edited by Gerald B. Greenberg, 1971)

Yeah, Gerald B. Greenberg — twice in the top ten!

“Citizen Kane” isn’t the oldest film in the list by far. That distinction goes to 1924’s “Sherlock, Jr.” edited by Buster Keaton and Roy B. Yokelson. For comparison’s sake, Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life” (2011) is the newest film.

Thelma Schoonmaker’s #1 honor, “Raging Bull,” isn’t her only recognition, either. Working with Scorsese, she appears twice more, at #15 (“Goodfellas”) and #69 (“Hugo”). She’s not the most-cited editor, however. The guild breaks down the stats further and also provides tallies by director, decade, sound, and music.

George Tomasini is the most cited picture editor, with 4 films on the Best Edited Films list — all with Hitchcock and all within a 6-year period. In a 3-way tie for the next most mentions (3) are Dede Allen, Michael Kahn and Schoonmaker. Allen’s and Schoonmaker’s pictures each span 3 decades.

13 editors had two films on the list: Richard Chew, Anne V. Coates, Gerald B. Greenberg, Akira Kurosawa, Ray Lovejoy, Craig McKay, Sam O’Steen, Jay Rabinowitz, William Reynolds, Daniel Rezende, Pietro Scalia, Billy Weber, and Peter Zinner.

Remember how I said to assume the list was up to date? Well, Michael Kahn was up for the Oscar against “Argo” for his work on “Lincoln.” Did you notice his name among the trio of editors who made the list three times? That’s because he pulled a hat trick with “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (21st), “Saving Private Ryan” (24th), and “Schindler’s List” (37th). I wonder if he might have appeared a fourth time if the list came out just a little later.

Check out the full list below, of which more than a few might surprise you. (Did someone say “The Matrix”?!) [via HitFix]

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)

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: News and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox