The Oscars is in a crisis. While normal Americans (and devoted fans around the world) would easily watch the Superbowl for over four hours, The Academy believe that one way to drive ratings up is to make the entire process shorter.
The news that the Best Cinematography Award would be announced during the adverts shocked pundits, with some people boldly declaring that they would boycott the entire ceremony. But why does the Oscars have to be under three hours? Wouldn’t it be better just to embrace the excess of the whole thing with a show that seemingly never ends? After all, people can easily binge four episodes of Game of Thrones without having a second thought. Why can’t the Oscars be that long (or even longer)?
In that spirit, perhaps its time to introduce even more categories. This would give the Oscars the largess it deserves, as well as bring in new eyeballs thanks to inclusive categories, especially for emerging talent and action films.
Below we have included ten potential categories that could make the Oscars great again and drive in viewers. Spanning from the obvious to the more obscure, it would potentially liven up a ceremony that is way too focused these days on brevity. Do you agree with what we have to say? Or think we got it totally wrong. Please give us your thoughts in the comments below.
1. Best First Film
First films don’t get much Oscar love. Of the current eight nominees for Best Picture, only one directorial debut, A Star Is Born, is included. In many ways it doesn’t even count, considering the immense respect Bradley Cooper has already garnered in the industry — and he wasn’t even nominated for Best director.
A Best First Film Award would help to inspire debut filmmakers to continue their career— after all, there’s nothing like winning an Oscar with your first ever time behind the camera.
Obvious nominees this year could’ve included Eighth Grade, Hereditary, Wildlife, Mid90s and Sorry to Bother You. These are all bold and risky debuts that took big risks but were nonetheless not nominated for a single Oscar. Considering however that they were immensely popular among younger viewers, and included a variety of often ignored genres, this award would easily help to draw in a more diverse audience.
2. Best Casting
Casting is an essential part of making a film great. So many otherwise fine films cannot quite reach the level that they were supposed to by having the wrong person in the lead. Conversely, average material can be elevated by getting the right person to make it sound good. By figuring out which actors are correct for certain roles can really help bring a screenplay to life.
This is all the work of a casting director, who either sees many different auditions for a role before picking the right person, or specifically works with the director in order to headhunt a particular talent.
This skill in casting goes all the way from the lead role to the 100th extra. Casting directors really should be given more credit for helping a director realise their vision. This award would also help new and diverse films get an Oscar nomination.
For example, The Rider, which made use of an entirely amateur cast mostly playing themselves, is a great example of a bold casting decision that pays off in spades. It’s time this kind of work got some recognition.
3. Best Soundtrack
The work of a music supervisor is long and complicated, combining both an understanding of cinematic language and legal expertise. While it may look like a director simply takes songs from her iTunes account and scores the action, they usually collaborate with a music supervisor who helps them find the perfect song for different cues and cinematic moments. Getting the rights to these songs is also very difficult, with supervisors using every skill in the book in order to pay the license fees.
Some songs are notoriously expensive to purchase or impossible to get; this is part of the reason why you rarely hear bands such as Led Zeppelin or The Beatles in a film. For some artists, a letter explaining why the music suits the quality of the film and is in keeping with the band or singer’s spirit is needed. To actually achieve this requires a lot of skill.
Some great films — think the work of Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, or George Lucas’ American Graffiti — cannot be extricated from the songs that feature in them. To honour these soundtracks, a specific award seems very necessary.
It also goes without saying that it could honour original soundtracks composed for a film, such as this year’s A Star is Born and Black Panther. This is a slightly different task that requires roping in artists, recording original songs, and figuring out the right moment in the film to deploy them.
4. Best Stunt Work
Stunt work is one of the most unsung parts of any production. It does not merely refer to big explosions or people jumping from planes, but simply any time that an actor is replaced by a professional for a potentially dangerous scene or an actor attempts a physical act particularly skilful or daring. Like CGI, it happens more often than people think.
A Stunt Work Oscar is a great idea because not only does it honour action films, but it pays special attention to the use of practical effects. As big Hollywood films often gravitate more and more to using computers instead of real people, a Stunt Work Oscar could easily bring people back to stunts that really make us lose our breath.
The most obvious film that would be deserving of this kind of Award this season is Mission: Impossible — Fallout, which saw Tom Cruise run, duck, jump and fly helicopters all in the name of cinema. Is action acting not acting? If so, it definitely deserves an award.
5. Best Ensemble
The best films require teamwork. It’s not just the work of one or two established actors, but the entire cast that rouse everyone together in service of something great. That’s where the Best Ensemble Award could come in handy, giving credit to those excellent actors that help round out a piece but can’t quite get Best Acting nominations themselves. Good examples include Nicholas Hoult in The Favourite or Andrew Dice Clay in A Star is Born.
This can also help films that don’t have any nominations for individual acting, but deserved to be recognised for the collective effort — Black Panther’s excellent ensemble immediately springs to mind, as does Crazy Rich Asians, which didn’t get any Oscar nominations. Other awards bodies such as the Screen Actors Guild and the Satellite Awards, recognise the power of an ensemble — it’s time for the Oscars to get with the program.