Thelma Schoonmaker, Triple Oscar-Winner on Film Editing

By David Winter
Jul 14, 2023
1 minute read




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Thelma Schoonmaker

Simply put, Thelma Schoonmaker is one of the most defining figures in film editing history and is considered by many to be one of the best editors of all time.

Working as Martin Scorsese's go-to editor and key collaborator throughout well over 20 films and half a century, Thelma has won Oscars for Raging Bull, The Aviator and The Departed, and has been nominated five more times.

These eight total nominations see her tied for the title of most-nominated editor in the academy awards history. Perhaps the upcoming Scorsese collaboration, Killers of the Flower Moon, will see her take the top spot.

Thelma's NLE of choice is Lightworks, and we are incredibly proud to have played a small part in the legacy of this titan of film editing.

"Thelma is the woman I trust."

- Martin Scorsese, DIRECTOR

The Queen of the Cutting Room

Best known for her association with the acclaimed director Marin Scorsese, Thelma Colbert Schoonmaker is a French-born American film editor who has won several awards in her illustrious career, including three Academy Awards. 

Having graduated from Cornell in 1961, Schoonmaker wanted to pursue a career in international diplomacy. However, during her time at Columbia University, Schoonmaker got an offer to work as an assistant film editor and receive on-the-job training. Schoonmaker accepted the offer and thus started her editing career; her first job was to assist the editor in cutting frames from classic European films from auteurs such as Francois Truffaut and Federico Fellini. 

She subsequently signed up for a six-week course in filmmaking at New York University, where she met Martin Scorsese and eventually made her debut in a feature film with Scorsese's maiden feature film, Who's That Knocking at My Door (1967). Some of her other notable film credits include Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), The Aviator (2004), The Departed (2006), Shutter Island (2010), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), Bombay Velvet (2015), Silence (2017) and The Irishman (2019).

"Thelma is a storyteller in her own right, influencing not only the narrative structure, but shaping the rhythm and pacing of the films she works on, the performances of the actors and, ultimately, the emotions of the audience."

- Dame Pippa Harris, chair of bafta

And The Award Goes To:

Thelma Schoonmaker at the Oscars

2020. Best Achievement in Film Editing. The Irishman


2012. Best Achievemnet in Film Editing. Hugo

2007. Best Achievemnet in Film Editing. The Departed

2005. Best Achievemnet in Film Editing. The Aviator

2003. Best Film Editing. Gangs of New York

1991. Best Film Editing. Goodfellas