All About Oscar: Categorically Speaking
Will The Academy Ever Recognize These New Categories?
By Tom Houseman
April 11, 2012
The categories at the Oscars have changed a lot since 1929, when there were only 12 categories, Wings won Best Picture, Production, and Sunrise won Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production. That year there were two acting awards (Actor and Actress in a Leading Role), two directing awards (for Comedy and Dramatic), an award for special effects (Engineering Effects), and three writing awards (for Original Story, Adaptation, and Title Writing). It was a simpler but simultaneously more confusing time for the Academy Awards.
Since then, several categories have come and gone, including awards for supporting actors, documentaries, film editing, sound mixing, and music composition. The last category to be created was Best Animated Film, which rang in the new millennium by ensuring there would always be an Oscar for Pixar if it made a movie better than Cars 2. Fast forward to today, and the Academy has shown no inclination towards adding any new categories, although considering how secretive they are it is possible that several categories have been given consideration. In public, at least, the Academy has been content to expand categories, with Best Picture, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual Effects all adding spots to their list in recent years.
But that does not mean that there are not categories that Oscar fans want the Academy to add. There are quite a few, each with arguments for and against their inclusion in future Oscar ceremonies. Below I have listed the five most interesting and most legitimate categories that might be considered. I also list films that I think would have been nominated last year if the Academy had chosen to accept these categories and why, in all honesty, none of these categories will ever show up at the Oscars. I guess my point that this is a purely hypothetical exercise with no relevance to the real world, but then, couldn't you say the same thing about the Oscars?
Best Stunt Choreography
The Argument For It: For well over a decade there has been a strong push on behalf of stunt choreographers to get their work recognized by the Academy. And their demand for recognition seems completely legitimate. The purpose of the Oscars is to represent the various aspects of filmmaking that work in concert to create great movies, from art direction to sound mixing to music. For some films, the composition of the fight sequences is as complex and artistic as the composition of their score. Stunt choreographers are artists, and anybody who saw The Raid witnessed the incredible work that a great stunt choreographer can create.
Looking at this category from a different perspective, the types of films that would get nominated are the big budget action movies that rarely get nominated for many Oscars. The more Oscar attention they get, the more likely people are to tune in and watch the show.
Last Year's Likely Nominees: Of course, the more prestigious films would still have an edge here because, come on, it's the Oscars. Two Best Picture nominees from last year would be very likely to have their presence felt: War Horse and Hugo. Still, the big budget films would be able to give them a run for their money, with Captain America, Fast Five, Sherlock Holmes 2, and especially Mission: Impossible 4 all being contenders.
It is likely that Academy would eschew effects-driven films here as a way to prove that there is still respect for movies that don't rely on CGI. I suspect that Hanna, Drive, and Colombiana would all be considered, although they would be dark horses. In the end it would probably be a race between Hugo and M:I 4, and it could go either way.
Why It Will Probably Never Happen: “The types of films that would get nominated are the big budget action movies” is one of the main reasons why the Academy has been so unwilling to create this new category. You might not have realized this, but the Academy can be a bit on the pretentious side when it comes to what movies they choose to award. While they are already embarrassed enough that movies like Click, Norbit, and Transformers will always be remembered as Oscar nominees, they probably don't want to compound the problem by giving movies like Fast 5 a better chance of getting a nomination.
Yes, there is definitely a bias against stunt choreographers, for a number of reasons, none of them terribly valid. While every movie has a cinematographer and a sound mixer, most prestige films don't have much in the way of stunts, while a lot of trashy action movies do. And you know that if The King's Speech can't even be considered for an award, that award is probably not going to ever be taken seriously. Let's just be happy that Visual Effects is around to represent the blockbusters and not press our luck.