The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences shocked the industry with today’s announcement that a new category was being created for the Oscars: Outstanding achievement in popular film. The new category received instant blowback from film journalists, with many calling a best popular film category a desperate attempt at remaining relevant and to increase ratings for the Oscars telecast.
Part of the reason the decision to add a best popular film category is so frustrating is the fact that there are several other, arguably more important, categories the Academy should be honoring that don’t exist at the moment. From stunt coordinators to casting directors, several groups continue to be ignored for Academy Award consideration despite being instrumental to a film’s success.
For more on the Academy’s decision to add a best popular film category, read IndieWire’s Anne Thompson’s takedown of the new category here. Continue reading below for the seven non-existent Oscar categories that demand consideration.
1. Best Stunt Coordinators
Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures
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Last month, Edgar Wright reacted to “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” by saying the movie was another example of why stunt performers deserve their own Oscar category. Wright’s claim has been supported by many in the industry for years now, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards even give stunt ensembles their own prizes. The need for a stunt coordinator category at the Oscars has only grown as blockbusters and action movies continue to top each other when it comes to stunt work. The category would also make contenders out of the “popular films” the Academy desperately wants to acknowledge (this year “Fallout,” “Black Panther,” and “Deadpool 2” would all be stunt contenders).
2. Best Casting Director
Despite the fact the Academy made casting directors the 17th branch of its organization several years ago, the group has yet to create an Oscars category specifically for casting directors. As IndieWire’s Chris O’Falt pointed out last year in his argument for getting this category made, casting directors remain the only crew members in the opening titles of a movie that don’t have their own Oscar category. Winning an Oscar for acting wouldn’t be possible if not for the casting director matching the proper talent to a specific role, which makes an individual category a no-brainer.
3. First-Time Film
First features getting nominated for best picture isn’t unheard of at the Oscars (last year both Greta Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” and Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” competed for the top prize), but designating a category for directorial debuts would spotlight emerging talent in a way the current Oscars ceremony lacks. The Directors Guild of America created a best first-time feature category in 2015 and it’s about time the Oscars follow suit. Imagine the recent directors and movies that could’ve been spotlighted here in recent years: “Ex Machina,” “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Lady Macbeth,” “The Witch,” and more.
4. Breakthrough Performer
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Timothée Chalamet and Lucas Hedges both lost out on Oscars for their acclaimed work in “Call Me by Your Name” and “Manchester by the Sea,” but they could have been Oscar winners had the Academy given a prize for breakthrough performer. It’s not impossible, but it is hard for deserving new talents to break into the acting races when there are previous winners and acting heavyweights in contention each year (child actress Brooklynn Prince of “The Florida Project” was worthy of a nomination last year but didn’t stand a chance against Frances McDormand, Sally Hawkins, Margot Robbie, and more).
5. Best Voice Performance
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Animated movies at the Oscars are regulated to the best animated film category and, in some cases, the screenplay, song, and best picture categories, but the voice talents behind these films are worthy of an Oscars race all their own. When you think about Amy Poehler in “Inside Out,” Jennifer Jason Leigh in “Anomalisa,” Scarlett Johansson in “Her,” Ellen DeGeneres in “Finding Nemo,” and many more, you realize voice performances are a skill as challenging and powerful as physical acting. The Oscars should take a note from the Annie Awards and honor vocal work.
6. Best Ensemble Cast
The Screen Actors Guild Awards already give its top prize to the best acting ensemble of the year, which is a category the Academy should consider adopting. Each year films like “Spotlight,” “Moonlight,” “Mudbound,” “Bridesmaids,” and more earn acting nominations for one or two performers when there could have been five or more worthy contenders in each film to nominate (the three actors playing Chiron in “Moonlight” all deserved supporting actor nominations, for example). Actors themselves will tell you they are only as good as the other actors up on screen, which is why an Oscar for ensemble acting is worthy of joining the ceremony.
7. Best Original Movie Soundtrack
The Oscars already bestow prizes for best original score and song, but the music supervisors who curate original soundtracks deserve an honor themselves. Picking preexisting songs to feature in a movie is a make or break decision: Pick the wrong song and the scene dies, pick the right one and it becomes something far more powerful. The amazing soundtracks for “Marie Antoinette,” “Drive,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and “Black Panther” are just a few examples of music collections in recent years that made their films even greater.