BAFTAs Creating A Casting Category – Could The Oscars Be Next?

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The British Academy has decided to add a casting category to the BAFTAs, the British equivalent of the Oscars. Beginning in 2020, voters will be able to weigh in on the film and TV projects they think had the best casting of the year, marking the first time that BAFTA has introduced a new category across both its film and TV sections at the same time. Now that this is in effect across the pond, is there a chance the Academy Awards follow suit and add a similar category?

The Hollywood Reporter brings word about the BAFTAs addition of the new casting category, which is the first new category added to the awards in twenty years. (In 1999, the organization added the "outstanding debut" award.) In a statement, BAFTA chair Pippa Harris said:

"BAFTA's Awards exist to recognize excellence across the industry and we are delighted this year to be including the highly skilled work of casting directors for the first time. Casting is essential to the screen industries, and vital in terms of promoting diversity and inclusion onscreen. We hope this Award will also help to promote an understanding of casting and look forward to seeing who will be the first winner in February."

Could the Oscars introduce a similar category? Casting is, as Harris said, an essential part of filmmaking, and the contributions of casting directors are often unheralded. How many casting directors can you name off the top of your head? My answer is embarrassingly low: only two. I know about Allison Jones, the casting director responsible for early Judd Apatow movies like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up and last year's breakout indie hit Eighth Grade, and Nina Gold, who cast Game of Thrones, Attack the Block, Chernobyl, and the newest Star Wars trilogy. Adding a casting category to the Oscars would be a great opportunity to shine more light on this part of the industry, one that seems to have more women in key positions than other departments. It'd be icing on the cake for young girls tuning into the Oscars to be introduced to more role models in an industry that's traditionally dominated by men.

But I must admit, in all of the discussions I've taken part in or read about over the past ten years or so about possible new Oscar categories, a category for stunts seems to be the most prominent discussion point. (We've written a lot about that on /Film over the years, especially as blockbusters have become an increasingly larger part of the cinematic landscape.) I'm certainly not implying that casting isn't as important as stunts, but I do wonder if there were to be a new category added, if the loud support for stunts would mean that category would be added to the lineup first.

To learn more about the ins and outs of what a casting director actually does, check out the 2012 documentary Casting By, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video.

In any event, you can read The Hollywood Reporter's full article to find out the other tweaks and small additions viewers can expect when the BAFTAs take place on February 2, 2020.