Anne V. Coates, the legendary British film editor who won an Oscar for her work on Lawrence Of Arabia (1962), was nominated for her work on four more films, and received the BAFTA Academy Fellowship in 2007, has died, according to multiple news outlets. She was 92.
Born in 1925 in Surrey, England, Coates—who originally wanted to be a director—came of age in an era where editing was one of the only avenues for women looking to break into the film industry. As she told fellow editor Walter Murch in a 2000 interview quoted in Variety, “When I first came into the industry in England, there were quite a lot of women editors. And then slowly they fell by the wayside ... While it was just a background job, they let the women do it. But when people realized how interesting and creative editing could be, then the men elbowed the women out of the way and kind of took over.” She persisted despite the changing landscape, however, and became a respected leader in the field of editing alongside the likes of Dede Allen, Verna Fields, and Thelma Schoonmaker.
Her first job was with a religious film company, splicing together short films for church groups; however, she moved up quickly, and by 1947, she was serving as second editor for Michael Powell on his films The End Of The River and The Red Shoes. In 1952, she received her first editor credit, on Noel Langley’s Dickens adaptation The Pickwick Papers. Her work on David Lean’s nearly four-hour epic Lawrence Of Arabia, for which she won an Oscar in 1963—specifically, a match cut from a shot of Peter O’Toole blowing out a match to a desert sunrise—is widely cited as among the finest in the form, and influenced Stanley Kubrick’s famous match cut of a bone becoming a satellite in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Coates edited more than 50 films in her six-plus decade career, and was nominated for Oscars for her work on Becket (1964), The Elephant Man (1980), In The Line Of Fire (1993), and Out Of Sight (1998), whose love scene between George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez is similarly legendary for its editing. Her last film was 2015's Fifty Shades Of Grey, about which she told The Los Angeles Times: “I’m very open. I tried to make Fifty Shades a little more sexy, but they were worried they wouldn’t get the R rating,” she said. “I would have had her trussed up like a suitcase and hoisted to the ceiling. I tried and tried to get that in. They used to laugh at me.”
In 2016, Coates received an honorary lifetime achievement Governors Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In her acceptance speech, she said, “I feel so lucky to have had this wonderful life, doing a job I love, working with some of the finest directors of the last 50 years on some of the most fascinating scripts ever written.” She is survived by her three children with director Douglas Hickox, who died in 1988: Anthony and James, both directors, and Emma, a film editor.