As a teenager, Academy Award-nominated editor Tim Squyres planned to become an astronomer like his older brother Steven. Following in his sibling's footsteps, he began as an undergraduate physics major at New York's Cornell University in 1977. Squyres eventually abandoned physics for psychology, but it was an introductory film course that stirred his true ambition. He immersed himself in the film world that Cornell offered, ultimately becoming a teaching assistant for the school's filmmaking course. Squyres soon was moonlighting at a local cable television station -- where he performed every filmmaking duty from sound engineering to directing -- and assisting on educational productions for New York State.
After graduating from Cornell in 1981, Squyres returned to his hometown of Wenonah, NJ, where an unfortunate karate injury kept him longer than expected. A fully recovered Squyres eventually left for Manhattan and began editing student films at New York University. His first foray into feature film came in 1987 when he served as supervising sound editor on Yurek Bogayevicz's Anna. Further sound editing work followed, and, in 1991, Squyres doubled as supervising sound editor and assistant editor on Nancy Sovaca's Dog Fight, starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. Squyres cut his first film as editor, Mark Levin's low-budget comedy Blowback, that same year.
Blowback attracted very little positive attention, but Squyres' editing technique did impress Ted Hope and James Schamus, co-founders of the distribution company Good Machine International. The duo tapped Squyres to edit director Ang Lee's feature film debut, Pushing Hands (1992). The picture marked the beginning of Squyres' continuing collaborations with Good Machine and Lee. In the next few years, he cut Lee's The Wedding Banquet (1993), Eat Drink Man Woman (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Ice Storm (1997), and Ride With the Devil (1999). He also edited Gordon Erikson's Scene's From the New World (1994), Paul Auster's Lulu on the Bridge (1998), several television documentaries for Bill Moyers, Michael Moore, ESPN, and VH1, and various commercials and music videos.
In 1999, Squyres began work on Lee's martial arts masterpiece Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Like Lee's first few films, Crouching Tiger is shot in Mandarin. While working with the director, Squyres had acquired a fair amount of Mandarin vocabulary, but he had not mastered its grammar. He had developed, instead, a method of cutting dialogue by using a written translation of the script and paying attention to gestures, tones of voice, and expression. As the crew shot on location in China, Squyres was delivered footage at home in the states. He edited alone, without notes from Lee, often in 12-hour sessions. By the end, Squyres assembled a staggering number of takes into an earnest romance -- mastering the dialogue -- and a seamless, majestic action flick, erasing all the tricks and wires that made the actors fly. Released in 2000, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon topped numerous best film lists, grossed well over 100 million dollars domestically, and secured four Oscars. Squyres himself won the Best Editor Award at the Taipei Golden Horse Festival and received nominations from the Academy, The American Cinema Editors, U.S.A., and the British Academy Awards.
In 2001, Squyres and Lee reunited once again for the BMW short film, The Chosen (which premiered on the BMW film site), and announced plans to begin a big-screen adaptation of The Incredible Hulk. In addition, Squyres completed work on Robert Altman's Gosford Park, and signed on to direct an episode of the television show When I Grow Up for Fox. Untarnished by success, Squyres also returned home to Wenonah to personally accept Gateway High School's Hall of Fame Award of Excellence at their 2001 ceremony.