For the first time since 2001, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has approved a new category for the annual Oscars ceremony. In 2001, the Academy saw the need to create the Best Animated Feature Film category. Now, the Oscars will (finally) celebrate the art of casting.
Films released in 2025 will be eligible to compete for the Academy Award for Achievement in Casting. The prize will be given out for the first time during the 98th Academy Awards that will air during 2026. “This award is a deserved acknowledgment of our casting directors’ exceptional talents and a testament to the dedicated efforts of our branch,” said Academy Casting Directors Branch governors Richard Hicks, Kim Taylor-Coleman and Debra Zane.
The Casting Directors Branch of the Academy was created in 2013 and there are currently almost 160 members of the 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.
This new category feels like a step in the right direction in terms of exciting growth for the Oscars. Twenty-three years is a long time to not add any new categories and perhaps this decision will inspire more new categories. Film lovers have been begging for the Oscars to recognize stunt performers and choreographers. The Taurus World Stunt Awards have been in existence since 2000 and are held yearly in Los Angeles. The Screen Actors Guild Awards started recognizing stunt performances in 2008 and the pop culture site, Vulture, has begun a stunt award celebration of its own last year. Despite this, the Academy has not made significant in-roads on creating a category of its own.
The arrival of the Achievement in Casting also brings up the question of the length of the ceremony. It seems every year the show runs over its allotted time. In 2022, the Academy attempted to remedy this problem by pre-taping eight of the twenty-awards to save time during the live broadcast. It was met with outrage from film lovers who wanted to see each award presented live. Adding a new category will surely increase the length of broadcast, so it will be interesting to see if the Academy has new plans of how to streamline the broadcast.
In celebration of this new category, here is a film that should be retroactively awarded an Academy Award for its casting: Scooby-Doo (2002).
Laugh all you want, but Scooby-Doo is one of the finest examples of the power of casting. The film shouldn’t work on many levels. It’s an awkward blend of animation and live-action in a time when CGI was particularly uncomfortable. The film is the first-ever live-action adaptation of the beloved cartoon and it had the biggest shoes to fill. Scooby-Doo works because of its actors. Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lillard, and Linda Cardellini is a who’s-who of teen royalty of the 90s and aughts. They made sense in the roles for their fame, but also because they fully embodied the essence of their cartoon counterparts. Look no further than the viral clip of Gellar thoughtfully explaining why the original Scooby-Doo cartoon transcends gender while Prinze merely says, “it’s a talking dog.” That clip is a pitch-perfect example of why casting matters, why we should celebrate the role of casting directors, and what a treasure Scooby-Doo (2002) is.
Sound off in the comments below about which casting decision you’d like to retroactively award an Oscar!