Baby Driver is easily one of my favorite films released in theaters this year, and part of the reason it is, is because of its crafts. As the Oscar race heats up, one of the films that I haven’t seen much attention for is Baby Driver. I don’t know why because it has some of the best: cinematography, film editing, sound editing, mixing, and a great screenplay as well. The case I’m going to argue for here is why Baby Driver should be nominated for Best Film Editing.
Normally when looking at what gets nominated for Best Picture in a typical year, you see bio films about people who did something remarkable, or you see dramas about broken families, for instance. These types of films are certainly good on their own, but when looked at through an Oscars microscope, they can fit the definition of an Oscar film, but also often qualify as “Oscar bait” – films designed to win awards.
Baby Driver on the other hand does not come close to that, and can be looked at as a traditional action crime film. In some ways it is that, but with a changing Academy, there should be a new sense of what can be nominated for Best Picture. Films that are well crafted should always be considered, but when they’re just really fun, and not “really about something”, they’re ignored. I think it’s time that changes, and we saw a glimpse of that when 2 years ago they nominated Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller’s movie was nominated because it was something traditional, but also just really well crafted. And Baby Driver falls in line with that same description to some extent.
But a twist going for Baby Driver is that the whole film is told in tandem with music. It’s not quite a musical, but it comes close in how so much of the story is told based in rhythms to the music. This is not something we’ve seen quite like this before, and I think director Edgar Wright handled it perfectly – as a whole, Baby Driver is a new film classic. The Academy should recognize this like it deserves.
If you’ve ever seen an Edgar Wright directed film, you know that one of the biggest strengths his films have is the film editing. Wright has a way of making his films precise and frenetic (just look at Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World). This started when he did Shaun of the Dead, and he made normal elements become way more interesting, just by adding in some flashy cuts and making them more energetic than they actually are. He has since made his career based on this style. It’s partly what made so many fans, including myself, excited for Baby Driver.
Baby Driver’s film editing is no exception to his previous efforts. Edited by Jonathan Amos & Paul Machliss, it has some of the fastest cuts I’ve seen this year. And that is to its benefit. Baby Driver is about a getaway driver who works with criminals, and we see multiple scenes of car chases where Baby (and crew) is trying to get away from the cops.
The film is a well-oiled machine, running on all cylinders. Also, the swift edits also depict the quieter, more private side of Baby’s life, primarily his love interest and touching home life. He’s revved up when he needs to be, and the film’s cuts show this. But when he’s relaxed, it takes a slower approach that blends seamlessly between the two tones of the storytelling.
One of the best examples of this is the first getaway when we see Baby driving through the streets of Atlanta, and he’s zipping through red lights, drifting when necessary, spinning wheels on impossible bends. No one can drive as well as Baby, and it’s showcased here. Also, it sets the tone for the rest of the film, and how you need to pay attention to all the little things here and there that we see on screen.
Now I know that fast editing does not an Oscar worthy contender make, but where it really shows its brilliance is right after the opening frenetic getaway scene, the following is a really long take of Baby walking a few blocks through downtown to get coffee and bring it back to the hideout. The editing overall is phenomenal. The quick shots mixed with the long shots, the sound design where the music and sound effects are in unison, and how they all come together. It just makes for one of the richest film-going experiences of 2017.