Critics groups have made it clear that the two horses they'd back are Moonlight and La La Land, which (by no coincidence) are also the only two yours truly would consider voting for as Best Picture of 2016. That's the thing about weak years: It makes it real easy for consensus to form around the few truly great movies that materialize.
Both seem likely to win the respective categories where they were nominated by the editors' guild, but let's take a quick survey of the other contenders...
Best Editing, Drama
ARRIVAL, Joe Walker
HACKSAW RIDGE, John Gilbert
HELL OR HIGH WATER, Jake Roberts
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Jennifer Lame
MOONLIGHT, Nat Sanders & Joi McMillon
I'm fine with all of these except Manchester. In fact, the weird style of scene construction that seemed to cut away immediately from moments that could have had sustained impact was one of its more off-putting elements for me. Even Hacksaw Ridge -- a movie I don't care for on the whole as much as I do Manchester -- is a finer specimen of the craft. My guess is Moonlight takes this, though I'll be rooting for Joe Walker's build of unnerving wonderment in Arrival.
DEADPOOL, Julian Clarke
HAIL, CAESAR!, Roderick Jaynes (aka: The Coens)
THE JUNGLE BOOK, Mark Livolsi
LA LA LAND, Tom Cross
THE LOBSTER, Yargo Mavropsiridis
Chalk this up as an easy win for La La Land's Tom Cross, who'll probably replace Manchester on the Oscar ballot and win his second Golden Boy. And I know that they use the term "Comedy" loosely, but The Jungle Book? Didn't exactly have me in stitches. Couldn't they have found room for something legitimately tickling, like Love & Friendship or The Edge of Seventeen?
KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS, Christopher Murrie
MOANA, Jeff Draheim
ZOOTOPIA, Fabienne Rawley & Jeremy Milton
You can count on these three to be in the running for Best Animated Feature, but the other slots seem up for grabs between any of the foreign entries which are quite numerous this year. As for which of these I'd pick based on their editing.... Tough call. They're all very good in that respect. I think Moana's seamless assemblage of comedy, drama, action and musical sequences without ever feeling rushed or drawn out would win my vote. I suspect the actual winner here will be Zootopia.
13TH, Spencer Averick
AMANDA KNOX, Matthew Hamachek
THE BEATTLES: EIGHT DAYS A WEEK, Paul Crowder
O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA, Bret Granato, Maya Mumma & Ben Sozanski
WEINER, Eli B. Despres
I think O.J.'s venerable team of editors -- already honored by the L.A. Film Critics Association -- is likely to take this prize, but here's the question:
Is the Academy's documentary branch really going to nominate a T.V. mini-series?
Is there any sort of precedent for this kind of nomination? Maybe I'm not giving them enough credit, but this seems like, to me, exactly the sort of thing the cine-centric doc branch would want to keep out of an awards show for movies. Every year needs at least one big snub that outrages people. It'll be very interesting to see if it's among the five docs named three weeks from today.