From the cutting room to the red carpet

Oscars

(CNN) — On Sunday there will once again be millions of eyes trained on the red carpet and the usual slew of beautiful faces parading along it. But behind the cream of Hollywood’s stars will be an army of nominees whose craft is just as vital to the creation of the industry’s feted films.

“I think that the red carpet and the glamor is all fine but it doesn’t really apply to me because I’m not a movie star,” says Jay Cassidy, a three-time nominee who is back at the Dolby Theater on Sunday.

Cassidy is in the running for the Best Film Editing Oscar, alongside his colleagues Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, for their work on David O. Russell’s “American Hustle.” For the veteran editor, the occasion is not so much about the celebrity ephemera and who’s-wearing-what, but it’s an “enormous big deal” for other, more tangible reasons.

“You’re nominated by the members of your branch (of the Academy), so there’s maybe 300 other editors in Hollywood and around the world who … nominate the five nominees each year so it’s a huge honor — it’s your direct peer group.

“For those who are movie stars it’s part of the game,” he said. “They’re used to the press thing that goes on, and there’s probably no more special occasion (than the Academy Awards). It’s the big one of the year.”

Cassidy is hoping to pick up that elusive statuette this time. Last year, he was nominated for “Silver Linings Playbook” and in 2008, was on the shortlist for his work on Sean Penn’s adaptation of “Into the Wild.” Both times, he came up short. But despite third-time-lucky exhortations, he says there are no expectations.

“You can never know what’s going to happen and you certainly don’t expect anything. Anybody who does is kind of delusional. So you just go into it with an attitude that you’re glad to be included in this clump of movies that are being recognized and honored and if it works out for you, wonderful but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t.”

While the major categories generally hog the limelight — and his “American Hustle” colleagues are up for the big ones including all four major acting categories, Best Director and Best Picture — he says that the technical categories are far from unsung these days.

“There is certainly, in the years I’ve been in the industry a growing appreciation for the technical side,” he says. “I think there’s a lot more attention paid to it by the media so I think people have a level of awareness that they didn’t used to have.

“That’s maybe not such a good thing on a certain level because you want the movies to be magic — you don’t want to pull the man out from behind the curtain.”

He says that the peer recognition is important, and while it “remains to be seen” what a win would do for his career options, the recognition from the Academy means that he is afforded more choice in what he makes.

“I’ve been very fortunate in the past few years to work on a string of really interesting films and then when I haven’t had an interesting film, that hasn’t been a problem. I’ve done some interesting documentaries, which have been wonderful.”

But back to Sunday and the hush that comes over the expectant crowd as the envelope containing the name of the winner — or winners — is opened.

“I have no predictions. How can you have predictions? I’m the wrong person to ask — you need to find someone on the outside, someone with a colder eye. (If) you’ve been through all this stuff, you have a vested interest in one of the films, you’re a little addled at this point.”

And while the Best Film Editing award may mean more to a handful of old Hollywood hands sitting in darkened editing booths than it does to those watching on E! news, the occasion is undiminished for Cassidy.

“The ritual is all fine, and part of it, you know, in a sense you’re continuing a Hollywood history, and what movies mean to people around the world, I think it’s a vindication of that.”

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