I had the honor of moderating a Q&A following a screening of “Argo” with editor William Goldenberg. The screening was for the Motion Picture Editors Guild, a fantastic audience who laughed and applauded throughout the film and gave Goldenberg a warm reception. Goldenberg is all but guaranteed an Oscar nomination for his work on “Argo,” but here’s the interesting part—he might end up being his biggest competition. Currently, Goldenberg is hard at work editing Kathryn Bigelow’s drama “Zero Dark Thirty,” also expected to be a major player at the Academy Awards.
Currently scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 19, “Zero Dark Thirty” is Bigelow’s first film since winning the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker” and tells the story of the special ops task force that killed Osama bin Laden. “Zero Dark Thirty” is one of a handful of hotly anticipated films that have yet to be seen by anyone, alongside “Les Miserables,” “Django Unchained,” and “Hitchcock.” But all based on the trailer and the fact Bigelow is working from a script by Mark Boal, who also won an Oscar for “The Hurt Locker,” expectations are high.
Goldenberg first worked with Affleck on the latter's feature directorial debut, "Gone Baby Gone" and the editor praised the director for his intelligence and sense of collaboration. Goldenberg was humble when asked about the possibility of competing against himself for an Academy Award for Best Editing. I asked if, to his knowledge, anyone had ever been nominated twice in the same year in the category, and he instantly replied: Michael Kahn. Kahn was indeed nominated in 1988 for editing “Empire of the Sun” and “Fatal Attraction,” but ended up losing to Gabrielle Cristiana for “The Last Emperor.” (I’m sure Kahn recovered fine—to date, he has three Oscars to console himself with.)
During the conversation, Goldenberg revealed he had two days off after finishing cutting “Argo” in June before going to work on “Zero Dark Thirty.” Obviously, both are very intense films about some serious subject matter—so I had to ask Goldenberg what his mood has been like this past year. “Honestly, I’ve been feeling great because I’m getting to work with such terrific material,” he responded with a laugh. “It’s when the film isn’t that good that my mood suffers.”