10 Genius Editing Decisions That Made Movie Scenes Great

When a movie truly comes together in post.

American Psycho
Columbia Pictures

There is perhaps no aspect of filmmaking craft more important than editing: it serves as the building blocks of even the simplest movie, and is the means through which directors create meaning and emotion.

It's no coincidence, then, that the overwhelming majority of the Best Picture Oscar winners have at least been nominated for Best Film Editing if not winning it outright, because poor editing is one the easiest ways to ruin a promising film.

It's often said that great editing is invisible, that it lures viewers in without drawing much attention to itself.

And while that's certainly true to a point, creative filmmakers have also found ingeniously sly ways to invoke unexpected and experimental editing techniques to their advantage.

These 10 movies all used innovative and surreptitious editing tricks to make their movies more effective, from intentionally making audiences uneasy, to creating powerful meaning with a single well-placed cut, or using montage to highlight themes and character arcs.

Whether or not these tricks were immediately apparent to viewers, in each case they're incredible examples of inventive and motivated editing at its absolute finest...

10. A Single Cut Perfectly Captures Human Progress - 2001: A Space Odyssey

American Psycho
Warner Bros.

The match cut is one of the most potentially powerful weapons in a filmmaker's arsenal, cutting from one object to another similar-looking one in order to imply a relationship between them.

And perhaps the most famous match cut in cinema history goes to the best - or, at least, the most meaningful - in Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The mesmerising opening Dawn of Man sequence concludes with an ape discovering how to use a bone as a tool, which it then throws into the air.

At this moment, Kubrick cuts to a similarly-shaped satellite orbiting in space in the far future.

At once, Kubrick has used a single cut to not only demonstrate the passage of 4 million years, but also human evolution, from the basic adoption of tools to the development of unfathomably complex ones.

Kubrick clearly could've transitioned from the Dawn of Man sequence any number of ways, but in creating such a potent visual tether between epochs, he embraced the film's primarily theme perfectly.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.