The First New Oscar in More Than 20 Years Goes to Casting Directors

The Academy Awards is introducing an Oscar for casting, the ceremony’s governing organization announced Thursday, making it the first new category in more than 20 years.

Casting directors have been pushing for the category for decades, arguing that their work is critical to the success of a film, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which puts on the Oscars, has rejected the idea — until now.

The new category will be introduced for films released in 2025, meaning that fans won’t see a statuette given out until the ceremony in 2026. The Academy tends to be conservative when it comes to introducing new awards: The last category to be created was the Oscar for best animated feature film, which was established in 2001. (It went to “Shrek.”) In 2018, the Academy scrapped the introduction of a new category for achievement in “popular” films after blowback from the public and some Academy members.

Destiny Lilly, the president of the Casting Society of America, a professional organization for people in the field, said the society was created in the early 1980s in part to help push for this award.

“It feels like a long time coming,” said Lilly, who was the casting director for “The Color Purple,” which scored a supporting actress nomination for Danielle Brooks at the upcoming ceremony.

The Academy created a branch for casting directors in 2013, which currently includes more than 150 members. Lilly said the new branch allowed for other Academy members to fully understand the extent of what casting directors do.

“It was an education process, a building of understanding of what our contributions are as casting directors to a finished film,” Lilly said.

The award show’s recognition of off-camera, sometimes overlooked categories was the subject of consternation two years ago when the Academy presented eight categories — including film editing, makeup and hairstyling, and production design — before the live telecast. The decision was met with a wave of criticism asserting that the move communicated that the Academy valued some moviemaking jobs more than others. The next year, the Academy’s new leaders reversed course and gave out all of the awards live.

In a joint statement making the announcement, Bill Kramer, the Academy’s chief executive, and Janet Yang, the Academy’s president, said, “Casting directors play an essential role in filmmaking, and as the Academy evolves, we are proud to add casting to the disciplines that we recognize and celebrate.”

The Academy’s board of governors voted to add the category on Wednesday.

A common argument against a casting award has been the length of the ceremony: Last year, the show ran three and a half hours, and in 2002, it hit the four hour and 23-minute mark.

The move puts the Oscars in line with some other awards shows, including the Emmys. The BAFTAs added the category for its 2020 ceremony, helping to fuel calls for the Academy Awards to do the same.

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