The Academy Awards is the biggest night for the film industry as it celebrates some of the biggest and best movies of the year. Over time, the show has evolved based on what is relevant in the movie-making world. The Animated Feature category was created once more animated movies were made. The Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories have been combined into the single Best Sound category. It only makes sense that the prestigious award show would continue to adapt over time.
There are elements of modern filmmaking noticeably unrepresented at the Oscars. It’s time that these important sides of the industry are recognized. Here are six categories the Academy Awards should add in order to ensure that recognition is given.
Best Voice Acting Performance
With how frequently voice acting is used in movies nowadays, it’s a crime that there’s still no Oscar for it. There are already categories for the best actor and actress in leading and supporting roles, and voice actors can technically qualify for them. However, a vocal performance has never been nominated for any of those awards. Plus, voice acting uses a skillset unique from traditional acting. Changing one’s voice and emoting with nothing but their voice are very different from using facial and body language.
It’s understandable why there hasn’t been Oscar recognition for voice acting in the past, but now there are plenty of voice acting roles each year. There are extraordinarily talented individuals who give it their all in both animated and live action films. Bradley Cooper completely changes his voice for Rocket Raccoon, Scarlett Johansson surprised audiences in Her, and Pixar regularly introduces the world to new fantastic vocal performances. It’s time their hard work is recognized by the Academy.
Best Motion Capture Performance
Similar to voice actors only acting with their voices, motion capture performers act with their bodies and facial movements in ways very different from traditional acting. They help to bring the most fantastical and least grounded characters to life and make them feel real with their performances. Moviegoers have thought for years that Andy Serkis deserved an Oscar for his eccentric portrayal of Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Considering there were barely motion capture performances at the time, it’s no surprise that the category didn’t exist back then. Why doesn’t it exist now, though?
There are several talents completely transforming themselves to make well-known characters feel life-like. Benedict Cumberbatch crawled around on all fours and contorted his face to make Smaug feel real in the Hobbit sequel. Avatar and The Planet of the Apes remake trilogy had no shortage of iconic motion capture performances. Now, with science fiction, fantasy, action, and comic book movies constantly giving us outstanding motion capture performances, the Academy should be recognizing them as well.
Best Stunt Work
Stunt performers literally risk their lives to make movies more exciting and believable for the audience. Some have even died while working. Most of the coolest tricks we see in action movies are done by people other than the ones listed as the stars. Stunt performers pull off some incredible feats for the sake of entertaining people, but never receive any of the recognition.
Just because they’re not as seen as the stars of a film, it doesn’t mean they’re not an important part of the filmmaking team. The Academy should recognize all aspects of how a film is made.
Best Practical Effects
Both the visual effects and the hair and makeup categories touch on this a tiny bit, but not quite enough. The Best Visual Effects category tends to cover CGI much more. Digital effects artists work with computer programming while practical effects artists work with makeup, puppets, machinery, clay models, and other physical tools and materials. The skillsets and the work they put in may work together to create a film’s visuals, but they aren’t the same.
Best Hair and Makeup covers exactly that: hair and makeup. While some practical effects do fall under that wheelhouse, others do not. It may cover the makeup used to make an actor look like an alien, but it doesn’t cover the effects used to create something like the alien from The Thing. Because it’s not quite the same as the digital effects we see in something like Dune or the makeup we see in something like Star Trek Beyond, it should fall under its own category.
Best Ensemble Performance
There are four separate categories for individual actors. They are Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. However, some films with terrific acting may get left out of those. Some movies have larger casts, with none of them being the actual lead. Films like Knives Out and Murder on the Orient Express have outstanding ensembles that work together to create extremely well-acted movies.
Sure, one or more of the actors in the lineup can score a nomination for Supporting Actor or Actress, but that doesn’t necessarily fit when it’s the whole group who should equally be nominated. There are award shows, like the Screen Actors Guild Awards, that already have categories to acknowledge the best ensemble performance. Perhaps the Academy Awards should follow suit.
It’s a true mystery how there is still no Oscar for choreography. Sure, there would need to be enough musicals each year for multiple to be nominated if the category just covered musicals. However, when taking into consideration all choreography, like the dance choreography for musicals, the fight choreography for action movies, and any other kind, there’s more than enough to fill the ballot. It’s a difficult task planning out where and how an actor will move during fast-paced scenes to perfectly capture the tone and excitement of a film. This is yet another role in the realm of filmmaking that often gets overlooked.
Being a choreographer is different from a director or cinematographer. While the latter two have control over how each shot and scene looks, the choreographer plans the specific movement of each actor in those scenes. They’re just as vital to the filmmaking process. Currently, we live in a world where the dance choreography for Lala Land or the fight choreography for John Wick aren’t “Oscar-worthy” just because there isn’t a category for it yet. That needs to be changed.
With the Academy Awards evolving in some way each year, it’s safe to say we may actually get to see some of these categories get added. It’ll certainly be intriguing to see what awards they may add, change, or even drop as time goes on.