Film Academy Announces New Oscar for Achievement in Casting

The Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences has announced that it will soon begin annually presenting an Oscar recognizing achievement in casting. The award, which will first be presented in 2026, will be the first new Oscar introduced since the organization began presenting best animated feature in 2002, after announcing its creation in 2001.

The announcement comes as something of a surprise, considering the pressure that the Academy has felt, especially in recent years, to consolidate the number of categories that it awards on its ABC telecast, in order to retain as many viewers as possible. (It has not yet been confirmed that the casting Oscar will be presented on the telecast, but it is hard to imagine that it would not be.) Twenty-three awards are currently handed out on the air, although the average viewer tends to care about only four or five.

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On the other hand, the Academy has increasingly embraced casting directors in recent years. Practitioners of the profession have belonged to the organization for decades, but were classified as members-at-large until 2013, when the organization created a casting directors branch. Six years after that, a casting director was elected Academy president for the first time; David Rubin held that position from 2019 through 2022. Today, there are 158 active members of the casting directors branch, making it the smallest of the Academy’s 19 branches.

In a statement issued Thursday, current Academy president Janet Yang and CEO Bill Kramer declared: “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. We congratulate our casting directors branch members on this exciting milestone and for their commitment and diligence throughout this process.”

The three governors of the Academy’s casting directors branch — Richard Hicks, Kim Taylor-Coleman and Debra Zane — added: “On behalf of the members of the casting directors branch, we’d like to thank the board of governors, the awards committee and Academy leadership for their support. This award is a deserved acknowledgment of our casting directors’ exceptional talents and a testament to the dedicated efforts of our branch.”

Category rules for eligibility and voting for the inaugural award will be announced in April 2025 as part of the complete 98th Academy Awards Rules. The specifics of the award’s presentation will be determined by the Academy’s board of governors and its administrative leadership at a future date.

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