As strongly as “Lincoln” has been performing throughout the season, Steven Spielberg has yet to receive much in the way of individual recognition for the film. That could change on Oscar night, of course. Until then, however, the American Cinema Editors have taken it upon themselves to reward the director, naming him the recipient of their annual Golden Eddie Award for Filmmaker of the Year.
The honorary award, which will be presented at the ACE’s Eddie Award ceremony on February 16, used to be something of a career achievement prize for less active filmmakers, with recent recipients including Norman Jewison and Richard Donner. For the last two years, however, it has gone to a name already in the thick of the awards race: Christopher Nolan was their choice in the year of “Inception,” while “The Descendants” writer-director Alexander Payne was last year’s honoree.
In both cases, their film was also nominated for the ACE’s Best Film Editing (Drama) award, though it’s not necessarily an omen of further success with the group. “Inception” lost the Eddie to “The Social Network,” which went on to win the Oscar. “The Descendants,” however, rather surprisingly won the Eddie over more slickly edited fare — beating “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” which would eventually pull off a significant upset on Oscar night.
Might the editors be as down with Spielberg and “Lincoln” this year as they were with Payne and “The Descendants” last year? “Lincoln,” obviously, is nominated for their dramatic editing award, and it’ll be one of the more critical precursors to watch. If “Argo” takes it, as I suspect it will, it’ll be comfortably on course for a win on Oscar night, potentially presaging a Best Picture victory. However, If the Eddie goes to “Lincoln” editor Michael Kahn — a favorite of the ACE, with four past wins and a Career Achievement Award to his name — things could get interesting. An Oscar win, meanwhile, would be his fourth, making him the most-awarded editor in Academy history.
Anyway, back to Spielberg, who makes complete sense for this award, given that 11 of his films (nine of them cut by Kahn) have been nominated by the ACE, with “Jaws,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan” all taking the gold. A spokesperson for the ACE’s Board of Directors states:
“Steven Spielberg is a cinematic treasure. For over four decades he has been moving audiences around the world with his unique, powerful brand of storytelling. As one of the most successful directors in history, he has brought us beloved films, which have not only delighted us but have been indelibly woven into our cultural fabric. Throughout it all, he has worked side by side with the great Michael Kahn, A.C.E., forming a director-editor partnership that has lasted decades. It is our pleasure to recognize him with the ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year honor, especially in a year where he has, once again, created a masterpiece with his latest film, Lincoln.”
Saying “throughout it all” does a disservice to the women — Verna Fields and Carol Littleton, respectively — who so artfully edited “Jaws” and “E.T.,” but it’s true that Spielberg and Kahn are as essentially intertwined a director-editor duo as Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker. It’ll be interesting to see if the editors call them both to the podium on Eddie night.