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BAFTA Adds Film and Television Casting Awards, Will Oscars Be Next?

The decision to honor casting directors puts pressure on those who have yet to do so.

An Oscar statue is places inside the ballroom at the 89th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills, Calif. When the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences announced changes to next year's Oscars broadcast, including the controversial creation of a "popular film" category, it prompted a host of questions about what this means for the world's biggest awards showOscars Popularity Contest, Beverly Hills, USA - 6 Feb 2017

Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

If you’re looking for understatements about Hollywood, you can’t do much better than “the Academy Awards are changing.” From controversy over ethnic and gender diversity, to attempts to remove technical categories from the Oscars broadcast, to an experiment with a host-less show, nothing seems engraved in stone. The 90-year-old award show remains the gold standard of the film industry, but the sentiment that it doesn’t accurately reflect our world is not going away anytime soon.

A point of contention in recent years has been the fight to include an Oscar for Best Casting Director. Many have argued that a ceremony that celebrates acting should also recognize the artists who pair the actors with their roles. Casting directors remain the only crew members shown in the opening credits of films that do not have their own category at the Oscars.

The debate was partially fueled by the 2013 documentary “Casting By,” which highlighted the contributions of casting directors throughout Hollywood history, and led to major filmmakers calling on the Academy to recognize their collaborators.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has yet to act on this, but that isn’t stopping other award shows. BAFTA announced today (via Variety) that it will add awards for both film and television casting to its slate. This marks the first time the British Academy of Film and Television Arts has added a new award category in 20 years, and casting advocates will say it’s long overdue.

With the BAFTA Awards airing one week before the Oscars, this will only shine more light on what many consider to be a gaping hole in the show. But the timing could be perfect to update the ceremony.

Last night, the Academy elected longtime casting director David Rubin as its new president. He is the first casting director to hold the job, having previously served as governor of the casting branch. As someone who understands the role of casting directors, Rubin is uniquely positioned to push to include them in the ceremony, though it remains to be seen if he will. The new president certainly has enough problems to deal with, from updating the increasingly-long Oscars telecast to continuing drive toward more diversity and inclusion.

But industry pressure to recognize casting is unlikely to vanish anytime soon. Directors, including Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen, have publicly asked the Oscars to add the category, and the many actors within the organization certainly understand the importance of the people who give them jobs. Whether or not Rubin chooses to act, casting directors certainly have the momentum behind them.

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