Oscars add new category, Best Casting, to begin with 2025 films

Casting directors have been campaigning for the recognition of their own Academy Award category for decades. To say that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is slow to make changes… would be the most under of understatements. So in frustrating but consistent fashion, AMPAS has been hesitant to rock the boat by acknowledging an entire field of people — mostly women, more on that later — who spend their working days, evenings, and weekends attending plays, showcases, watching reels, and more to scout promising new talent. Casting directors made their biggest progress yet in July 2013 when they established the Casting Directors Branch within AMPAS. Now 10+ years of campaigning from inside the tent has finally paid off, as last week AMPAS made the new category official. The first Best Casting Oscar will be presented at the 98th Academy Awards in 2026 honoring the films of 2025:

The Oscars are casting a wider net.

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a pleasant surprise Thursday morning by creating a new competitive Oscar category for best achievement in casting. It will begin at the 98th annual ceremony for films released in 2025.

This is the first new category created by the Academy since 2001 for best animated feature film. The Casting Directors Branch was formed in July 2013 and has nearly 160 members.

“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,” said Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang. “We congratulate our Casting Directors Branch members on this exciting milestone and their commitment and diligence throughout this process.”

Academy Casting Director Branch governors Richard Kicks, Kim Taylor-Colman and Debra Zane said in a joint statement, “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 with 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.

The fight for the recognition of casting directors dates back to the late 1990s, when there was a fervent push to add it to the ceremony. However, it did not have widespread support back then and did not come to fruition.

[From Variety]

As I noted in the intro, this has been a long time coming. The BAFTAs, similarly, only added the category to their awards in 2020. For more background, there’s a wonderful documentary called Casting By that tracks the career of Marion Dougherty, a pioneer in the casting profession. (And that’s for the entire profession, not simply for women in casting.) The doc highlights how Dougherty took what was widely considered an administrative task, and made it into a craft of its own. A job so fundamental to filmmaking that it merits its own closing credits title, just like the Director of Photography, Production Designer, Editor, Composer, Costume Designer, or Visual Effects Supervisor, all who’ve had their own Oscar categories for decades. Casting By also features an asinine soundbite from director Taylor Hackford (Ray) on his objection to casting directors: “The reality is you’re not a director. And we take exception to being called a director. You’re a casting person, ‘casting by,’ but I do not call them directors, because they’re not.” He seemingly did not have the same assertion that it should be the ‘Person’ of Photography. So why has there been such opposition, like Hackford’s, to casting directors in particular? Unlike most professions in Hollywood, women have historically accounted for about 70% of casting directors, with that number hitting 81% for 2022. I’m not saying misogyny is the de facto reason there’s been a bias against casting directors. I’m just relaying some statistics. Nevertheless, we persist.

Photos via Instagram/Kim Taylor Coleman, Central Casting and YouTube

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11 Responses to “Oscars add new category, Best Casting, to begin with 2025 films”

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  1. Proud Mary says:

    I actually agree with this decision. I often cannot separate my favorite movies from the cast. I’m into really, really old movies. I think the people who did the casting for “All about Eve”, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and “Brief Encounter”, to name a few, deserved awards.

  2. Normades says:

    I think casting is definitely an art. It’s not just about talent but also taking into consideration the actors’ chemistry and suitably with the subject material. It makes sense it took a long for the Oscars to recognize it as it is a female dominated profession.

    • bananapanda says:

      That documentary is so so good. They talk about the history of casting directors in NY moving across theater, tv and movies.

      I love the non flashy movies like Spike Lee’s Inside Man – which is pitch perfect and full of NYC characters throughout. You need great faces and acting chops to populate a movie.

  3. Dee says:

    I told everyone I knew about Casting By. Marion deserved the Oscar many times over. This change is way overdue.

  4. Mrs Robinson says:

    This is great progress. Next can they PLEASE add choreography?

  5. Nanea says:

    It’s about time, more like long overdue, that the work of the casting directors is acknowledged.

    Without casting, there wouldn’t be a movie.

    It’s not as if the *director* directors (rolls eyes at former DGA president Taylor Hackford) watch hundreds of actors that are potentially suited for a part on their own, before choosing a handful to be called back for more detailed auditions – or look beyond the small “cache” of talent who they have already worked with.

  6. HeatherC says:

    Casting directors have a huge, important, unsung job that is rarely recognized.

    Most, if not all, the great movies and the enjoyable movies are in large part to the actors playing the part. We’ve all seen our share of miscast actors totally ruining what could have been a good movie along with perfectly cast actors saving what otherwise would have been a forgettable or even bad movie. It’s not all the actor’s talent. It’s finding a framework or role that an actor will shine in.

  7. Becks1 says:

    Casting is so so important, I’m glad its finally being acknowledged at the Oscars. Think of how many times we’ve seen a movie and thought “no one else could have played that part.” Or when you hear about the “this person almost played this role” scenarios – some of those aren’t that meaningful IMO (I don’t know if La La Land would have better or worse with Emma Watson instead of Emma Stone, same for Beauty and the Beast), but there are other stories like that where I just think “the entire movie would have flopped.”

    And maybe it wouldn’t have flopped, but it certainly would have been different. Sometimes its just one actor that makes or breaks a movie, and sometimes its the overall chemistry so the overall selection matters a great deal.

  8. Flamingo says:

    I hope they add best voice actors and stunt person in the future – voice acting is such an art form and would dove tail nicely with best animation movie.

    And how many stunt people have gotten hurt, died, or paralyzed making an actor look good. It’s a dangerous activity that deserves more recognition.

  9. BlueNailsBetty says:

    I didn’t know how much power casting directors had until I ended up at a wedding reception in LA.

    My friend and I attended the wedding reception of another friend of mine (an actress) and most of the people there were actors and their guests (some of whom were actors). My friend and I are not associated with Hollywood in any way and so it was kind of weird when we would meet someone and they found out we weren’t part of Hollywood they instantly lost interest in us. They weren’t rude, just uninterested.

    Friend and I ended up sitting at a table with a couple of awesome friends of the bride, one of which happened to be a casting director. We had a great time visiting with both of them all night and casting director was a terrific story teller and a good listener and our table was talking and laughing all night.

    After the first hour of that I got up to go to the ladies room and almost wet myself because people kept stopping me because they were suddenly super interested in me and “by the way, how do you know casting director?” Ugh. Finally made to the restroom and then had to walk the gauntlet back to the table. The same thing happened to my friend when she went to get a drink. For the rest of the night when we left our table we had to deal with suddenly being the most popular people at that reception. It was weird.

    At one point I mentioned to cast director how many people suddenly wanted to know how I knew her and that I told them she was my aunt in my mother’s side and she thought that was the funniest thing. She genuinely enjoyed being able to have non-Hollywood conversations and no pressure at someone trying to curry favor while she was off the clock.

    Anyhoo, that is how I learned that every actor in Hollywood knows who every casting director is. I’m glad casting directors are finally being formally recognized.

  10. NotSoSocialB says:

    Wes Anderson may have a lock on this, haha! His ensemble casts are insanely fantastic- but yes I get this is for non- luminaries.