Carol Littleton, ACE

Born 1948

Carol Littleton, ACE has thirty-eight credits and was nominated for an Oscar for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. She had a long collaboration with Lawrence Kasdan, editing eight of his ten films, including The Big Chill, Body Heat, and The Accidental Tourist. She also edited four films for Jonathan Demme, including Swimming to Cambodia, The Manchurian Candidate, and Beloved. Littleton won an Emmy for Tuesdays with Morrie, and in 2016 she received a Career Achievement Award from ACE.

“…the most important thing is learning how to analyze a story. What are the elements that make a story achieve its full potential? As an editor I analyze the story, and figure out how to make it as rich as possible, to have the most emotional impact. The main task of the editor is to compress screen time while being aware of an accretion of detail in the actors’ performances to guide the story toward its maximum emotional effect. Our work is interpretive, and the more analytical tools we have, the more successful we are.”
—“An Interview with Carol Littleton ACE” by Janet Dalton. The full interview can be found in the Appendix.


Anne V. Coates

1925 – 2018

Anne Coates is best known as the editor of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, for which she won an Oscar. Techniques she devised for that film revolutionized editing. Coates got four other Oscar nominations (for Becket, The Elephant Man, In the Line of Fire and Out of Sight). At age 90, she co-edited Fifty Shades of Grey with Lisa Gunning and Debra Neil-Fisher. Coates was awarded BAFTA’s highest honor, a BAFTA Fellowship, as well as winning a Career Achievement Award from both ACE and the Los Angeles Film Critics. In 2016, Coates won an Academy Honorary Award (often called the Honorary Oscar), making her the second picture editor in the history of the award to win one. To quote the Academy, “In her more than 60 years as a film editor, she has worked side by side with many leading directors on an impressive range of films.” The first winner was also a woman, Margaret Booth, in 1977.

Anne V. Coates (above, seated at right) makes a cameo appearance as one of Howard Hughes’ editors in a scene from Scorsese’s The Aviator. The film was edited by Thelma Schoonmaker, who won another Oscar for it—her third.