With all the outcry over Green Book‘s Best Picture Oscar win, an arguably more baffling win — at least according the moviegoers — at this year’s Academy Awards got a bit lost in the shuffle: Bohemian Rhapsody‘s award for Best Film Editing. A new video essay by YouTuber Thomas Flight explains why this choice was such a head-scratcher by breaking down the editing in the much–maligned (on Twitter, anyway) café scene.
It’s worth noting, as the video (above) does, there are a lot of complicated circumstances that surround how a movie is edited. It’s possible the editor just didn’t have enough material to work with (and considering Rhapsody‘s behind-the-scenes woes, that may well be the case). But that doesn’t explain why the film took home an Oscar for its editing, especially with candidates like BlacKkKlansman and Vice in the mix.
Editing is a very tricky and subtle craft, and by design is not supposed to be noticed when done well. If you consciously notice a cut within a scene, more often than not something’s gone wrong. As the video points out, there’s an insane amount of cuts in that low-energy dialogue scene — 60 in less than two minutes, meaning each shot lasts less than two seconds on average. The scene is also cut in such a way that the viewer’s sense of space is thrown off; it’s hard to get a bead on where everyone is within the onscreen world when cuts don’t follow characters’ gazes. It all adds up to a scene that’s jarring and confusing to watch.
Check out the full video above for a more detailed explanation.