Considering his film isn't much of a crafts showcase, the editors' contingent has really showed up for Alexander Payne and "The Descendants" in the past month. When it looked like the modestly scaled domestic dramedy was in danger of receiving no below-the-line recognition at the Oscars, Fox Searchlight -- doubtless mindful of the fact that no film has won Best Picture without any since 1980 -- stepped up their game with a targeted campaign highlighting the film's technical properties, highlighting in particular the work of editor Kevin Tent.

Editing, of course, is routinely the easiest craft category for unflashy Best Picture nominees to find a home in, and the studio's strategy worked a treat -- Tent landed a nomination from the American Cinema Editors, followed in due course by the Academy's editors' branch, beefing up the film's contender profile at the expense of more artfully edited fare like "The Tree of Life" or "Drive." 

Now, as if to demonstrate how fully on board they are with "The Descendants," the ACE has also announced that Payne will receive the Golden Eddie for Filmmaker of the Year at their awards ceremony next week. It an honor that used to be something of an old-guard lifetime achievement deal -- going to such veterans as Richard Donner and Norman Jewison in recent years -- though with Payne following last year's selection of Christopher Nolan, it's clearly switched tack to recognising a year's work. (Don't assume this has any kind of bearing on the group's main award: "Inception" lost the Eddie to eventual Oscar champ "The Social Network" last year, and we can safely assume that the nomination shall remain Kevin Tent's reward.)

Anyway, it's not the biggest deal, but still a welcome show of industry support for the film -- heading into the final stretch of voting, the film seems at risk of cooling off (George Clooney's surprise loss at the SAGs wasn't an encouraging omen), so will be glad of the recognition. Moreover, given that the ACE has nominated Tent for all of Payne's last four film, it comes from as fitting a quarter as any. Excerpted press release below:

Universal City, CA, February 6, 2012 –Award winning filmmaker Alexander Payne has been selected by the Board of Directors of the American Cinema Editors (ACE) to be honored with the organization’s prestigious ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award. The award will be presented at the 62nd Annual ACE Eddie Awards ceremony on Saturday, February 18, 2012 in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, it was announced today by the ACE Board of Directors. Payne’s most recent film The Descendants recently won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Drama) and was nominated for five Academy Awards® including Best Director and Best Film Editing for Payne’s long-time editor Kevin Tent, A.C.E.

"Alexander Payne is a consistently fresh, exciting voice in film,” stated the ACE Board of Directors. “From the socially conscious and satirical Citizen Ruth to the rich and poignant comedies of Sideways, About Schmidt and most recently The Descendants, he is a filmmaker with unique vision and the ability to illuminate the humanity in every story he tells. We are delighted to recognize him with our most distinguished honor.”

Payne worked in various capacities in film and television before directing and writing his first feature film, Citizen Ruth, which launched him on to the scene in 1996 as a promising new voice in American film. He followed up with the critically acclaimed Election for which he received his first Oscar® nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. That same year he was also lauded by the Los Angeles Film Critics with their New Generation Award, was nominated for five Independent Spirit Awards (winning three for Screenplay, Best Independent Feature and Best Director), along with several other industry honors. Payne’s long time editor, Kevin Tent, A.C.E., received his first ACE Eddie nomination that year for his work on the film. Payne’s next feature film earned Oscar® nominations for his two stars, Jack Nicholson and Kathy Bates and a Golden Globe® for Payne and his long-time writing partner, Jim Taylor, for Best Screenplay. With the arrival of Payne’s next project Sideways, he had already established himself as one of the most accomplished voices in American film. A hit with critics and audiences, Sideways was honored with five Academy Awards® including Best Picture and Best Director, and provided Payne with his first Oscar® win for Best Adapted Screenplay, shared with Taylor. He and Taylor also won the BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and five Critics Choice Movie Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture of the Year. Payne was also nominated for his first Directors Guild of America honor for Sideways and won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Screenplay and Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical). Sideways also earned six Independent Spirit Awards and won all categories in which it competed, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also recognized as the Best Picture of the Year by over fifty critics organizations including the National Board of Review, Los Angeles Film Critics and New York Film Critics. His most current feature film, The Descendants, has already won several industry honors including the National Board of Review (Best Adapted Screenplay). Payne recently produced the acclaimed comedy from Miguel Arteta, Cedar Rapids and serves as Executive Producer of the HBO series Hung starring Thomas Jane.

 

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter. 

Sign up for Instant Alerts from In Contention!