LA Film Critics Awards 2018


On Jan. 13, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association held its 43rd annual awards, marking the sixth time film editing was recognized. The addition of this category in 2012 was a direct result of the work of the Committee for Creative Recognition, created by ACE  and Motion Picture Editors Guild and chaired by Stephen Rivkin, ACE.

Held at the InterContinental hotel in Century City, this year the LAFCA honored Dunkirk editor Lee Smith, ACE, in film editing. Tatiana S. Riegel’s, ACE, work on I, Tonya was the runner-up.

In the evening’s program book, critic Robert Koehler wrote that “for most viewers – if they are honest – most critics, film editing is that most mysterious thing, cinema’s magic act hiding in plain sight. It supplies a movie’s subconscious music, the essential tempo that makes cinema what it is. No movie in 2017 expressed this fundamental truth more radically than Dunkirk.”

Presenting the award, Koehler called Dunkirk – a heart-pounding look at the evacuation of Allied forces from France’s Dunkirk beach during WWII – “one of those rare sculptural works in cinema” and a “radical work of art. This sculpture is a giant coil formed by editor Lee Smith and director Christopher Nolan with three strands of film representing the movie’s three locations” – the mole, the sea and the air. “The coil is at first invisible. Then it emerges, it rises, it tightens, and it grips. Finally, it releases in an extraordinary sequence. This is suspense at its most profound – as an actual physical thing that you can feel.”

Accepting the award, Smith said, “This film was one of those films that comes along once in your life. I feel very privileged that Chris Nolan has let me work with him.” He got a laugh as he added, “Because, quite frankly, he’s going to find me out one of these years.

“He’s an amazing director,” Smith continued. “The script of Dunkirk was so tight. Even though there’s not much that is conveyed in dialogue. It’s a story that’s so complex in the construction of timelines. I’d like to say it came together really easily, but it didn’t.”

He thanked his entire editorial team during his remarks, and added that “it was a thrill to work on something a lot of people have seen and experienced. It was an experience, that film.”