Best Use of Intelligent Editing in Recent Films (10+1list)

Best use of intelligent Editing in recent films.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Film editing is often referred to as the ‘invisible art’ because when a film is seamlessly edited, the viewer can hardly be aware of the editor’s work.

But as we all know an editor has the ultimate control to make or break a film. ‘A film gets made on the editing table’.

Earlier times film editing was considered to be only a part of the ‘post production’ process but the true art of editing is best utilized when many of the cuts are preplanned while shooting the film itself.

Many films display multiple quick cuts (fast cutting) while others jump time or space with skillfully matching cuts (match cuts); then some films have elaborate parallel edit sequences while in some movies the editors use a variety of transitions to set the desired mood.

And now, here is a list of some of the best use of intelligent Editing in recent films – best examples of both linear and nonlinear editing styles.

So, let the fun begin.

1. Upstream Color (2013)

Film trailer:


A film by writer/director/actor and also cinematographer/editor and also music composer Shane Carruth.

Overall a complex but superb movie but the best part of it is it’s flawless editing.

Every shot is cut so precisely that the whole film looks like some kind of a detailed choreography of beautiful images dancing across the screen!

2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Film trailer:


Again a complex film with a superb storyline (the visible touch of Charlie Kaufman) and absolutely brilliant editing.

Directed by Michel Gondry and edited by Valdís Óskarsdóttir, the film narrative repeatedly goes back and forth and it all makes sense (or the times when it does’t!) simply because of the powerful editing style. 

Also worth checking out The Science of Sleep (2006) by the same director.

3. City of God (2002)

Original title: Cidade de Deus. Language: Brazilian Portuguese.

Film trailer:


Based on a true story, the film is directed by Fernando Meirelles and edited by Daniel Rezende (both nominated for the Oscars).

The opening sequence of this film is often considered as the best edited sequence ever – the one where the mob chases the chicken through the crowded streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Also worth checking out The Constant Gardener (2005) by the same director.

4. Any Given Sunday (1999)

Film trailer:


Director Oliver Stone who won Oscars for Platoon (1986) and Born on the Fourth of July (1989) also made films which have a very unique editing style.

This film along with Natural Born Killers (1994) and U Turn (1997) – they are fast and edgy, each and every cut is synced with rapid camera movements and yet very much visually appealing!

5. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

Film trailer:


Darren Aronofsky‘s most creative film and a masterpiece in editing.

Edited by Jay Rabinowitz, the quick cuts of the closeup of an eye showing the effects of drug and the disturbing parallel edit sequence towards the end of the film are legendary in the world of artistic editing. 

This film proves that deft editing can actually establish the mental state of a person.

6. Fallen Angels (1995)

Original title: Do lok tin si. Language: Cantonese.

Film trailer:


Famous for Chungking Express (1994), Happy Together (1997) and In the Mood for Love (2000), this film is one of the lesser known works of master director Kar Wai Wong but probably the best example of his incredible sense of editing.

Edited by William Chang and Ming Lam Wong, the film is a hypnotic journey of images cut to perfection.

7. Children of Men (2006)

 Film trailer:


Nominated for the Oscars in the best editing category this film is a must in any editing list ever made.

Edited by director/editor Alfonso Cuarón and also by Alex Rodríguez, the tension and the intensity of this futuristic thriller is much more enhanced by competent editing techniques which are almost too perfect to notice individually.

One of the most gripping suspense thriller ever seen.

8. Hot Fuzz (2007)

Film trailer:


Now this film uses a completely different aesthetics of editing but nevertheless very effective and often intentionally comic!

A comedy directed by Edgar Wright and edited by Chris Dickens is a film that contains the best example of time compression by swift editing (specially during the journey sequences).  

If you liked Shaun of the Dead (2004) you would love this too.

9. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

Original title: Le scaphandre et le papillon. Language: French

Film clip:


Directed by Julian Schnabel (won best director at Cannes Film Festival), this one is an inspiring yet difficult story to tell. 

And according to me, the film’s success largely depends on it’s brilliant editing techniques.

Edited by Juliette Welfling, who was nominated for the Oscars in the Best Editing Category, this is one film you shouldn’t miss.  

10. The Tree of Life (2011)

Film trailer:


The brilliance of Terrence Malick is probably most evident in this film and yet the first thing that one notices is the seamless editing!

A series of vignettes held together, the camera moves and the images cut so effortlessly that some times one forgets that they are actually watching a film.

In spite of winning the Palme d’Or the film is often criticized for not having a distinctive storyline.

and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most unique and cool one. A must watch).

+1. Spun (2002)

Film trailer:

spun-posterAn out of the world editing experience, as fast and quirky as the mental state of a drug addict.

This film is definitely to be seen without any parental guidance because of it’s disturbing imagery and freaky concept.

Edited by Johan Söderberg and director/editor Jonas Åkerlund, editing skill at a different level altogether.

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