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Categories That Were Never Added to the Academy Awards

August 21, 2018

What non-existent Oscar category do you think should exist?
Oscars 2017 Trivia
Newly installed Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey announced that there will be some changes to AMPAS’s biggest event: the Academy Awards, a.k.a. the Oscars. The new ideas seem to be about improving the Oscars broadcast. For one, a few minor technical categories will be handed out during commercial breaks, with just the winners announced some time during the show. There will also be a new category: Achievement in Popular Film. It’s sort of a “Best Picture But For Movies That Made Hundreds of Millions at the Box Office,” counter to the smaller, artsier movies that tend to win the existing Best Picture prize. Why? To get more casual film fans to watch the Oscars and have something to root for. It’s the first new Oscars category in decades, and one that beat out these other actually proposed ones.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ “Board of Governors” meets each year to discuss a lot of film industry issues, including ways to tweak he Academy Awards. If an organization representing a particular movie industry sector wants to propose an Oscar for their field, they petition the Board of Governors. In 1999, some movie folk proposed an Oscar for “Best Title Design.” In other words, the best opening credit sequence of a film. Think of all those James Bond openings where a silhouette of 007 walks out to a sweeping, guitar-driven theme song, turns to the camera, and shoots, turning the screen red—that’s the kind of thing that would win that Oscar…if the Board of Governors hadn’t rejected it.


Great movies are a collaboration between all kinds of different people, such as actors, directors, cinematographers, art directors, and composers. All of those fields are awarded with Oscars, but casting directors are not. It stands to reason that directors wouldn’t be able to get great performances out of their actors if they’d never found the right actors for every role in the film—which is what a casting director does. That kind of argument did not convince the Board of Governors, turning down a Best Casting proposal in 1999.


Two things in particular make big-budget action blockbusters so exciting: special effects and stunt work. The team that designs the explosion in a movie like Skyscraper are Oscar-eligible, but the guys that stand-in for stars like The Rock when they’re jumping off of a building away from that explosion are not. For more than 20 years, Hollywood’s stunt performance community has been trying to get a Stunt Coordination Oscar in play. The Board of Governors rejected official proposals in 1999 and 2005. Only one stunt man has ever won an Oscar for their literally death-defying troubles: Yakima Canutt received an Honorary Award for his body of work making stunt magic in movies like Gone with the Wind, Ben-Hur, and Swiss Family Robinson.

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