Thursday, April 26, 2012

Will The Academy Recognize Stunt Performers At The Oscars?

Note:  This article originally ran on Fanboy Comics on April 16, 2012.  Check out my articles on their site every Tuesday.  

Stunt OscarsNow that the 84th Annual Academy Awards are in the history books, this is the time of year that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) revises some of the categories, reviews the show, and makes changes to the overall voting rules.  This year, there is big buzz surrounding stunt performers petitioning the Academy to get their work recognized at the Oscars.  Last year, there was a changing of the guard with Bruce Davis stepping down as Executive Director of the Academy and Dawn Hudson moving from Film Independent to replace him. The performers felt now was the opportune time to bring up the topic again. In a recent Hollywood Reporter article, Jack Gill, a veteran stunt performer, says that Hudson “seems to be a lot more receptive than the others.”  He has already started discussions with Hudson to make this a reality.

Stunt performers have long fought to be recognized in the entertainment industry, as they make box office action heroes like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis look downright heroic in their epic films.  They do have their own awards ceremony called the Taurus World Stunt Awards, but remember, so do actors, directors, and producers, and they are already recognized by the Academy each year.  Perhaps, the most shocking revelation in the article is the fact that the stunt performers considered protesting this year’s show but chose not to distract from other artists’ big Oscar day.  

While the stunt performers are not asking for a televised category, it begs for clarification. If the Academy created a new category, where would they put it?  There are already 24 categories on the televised show that usually runs too long.  The Sci-Tech Awards are held two weeks before the Oscars broadcast, but they honor breakthroughs in the technology of film.  Finally, the Governors Awards honor legends in film with Honorary Awards and the Hersholt Humanitarian Award, so it doesn’t seem appropriate to lump the stunt category in with that program.  Could the Academy create a fourth night to honor those in the entertainment industry?  There has long been an outcry to also honor casting directors for their work in film, and with the changing landscape in technology and animation, it is entirely possible we will see this evolution happen for more categories to be created.  This is definitely a battle to watch, because if the stuntmen succeed, more areas of the industry that are ignored on Oscar night are going to look for recognition.  

What are your thoughts on adding a stunt category to the Academy Awards?  I would love to hear your ideas.   


  1. The Board of Governors would probably nix any suggestion to add more categories. Best Animated Feature was the most recent category, added in 2001, but I can't see a Stunt Performance category to be included any time soon. I could see a stunt performer (or a casting director) honored with a lifetime achievement award or something similar at the Governors Awards, but that's about it. 

    Maybe the Academy could do a tribute to stunt performers at next year's Oscars. 

    The other question I have is this: Are stunt performers given kudos by actors or other crafts? Do they respect them? From an outside perspective, they don't seem to be given much credit.

  2. They have their own awards, the Taurus World Stunt Awards, where many of the actors present at the show.  However, they are not honored at a "big" show like the Oscars.  A tribute to stunt performers could happen, but how many of us actually pay attention to those film montages?  Not many.  A lifetime achievement award is definitely a good idea and a good start for them.......

  3. i've got a couple friends on the Stuntmen's Association Board, and am good friends with Conrad Palmisano, one of the SAG national board members (also on SAB) i'd like to ask him about this, but knowing most stuntmen they'd be too humble for something like this, they have the Taurus Awards and they feel that is a little ostentatious. if there were an Academy Award for best stunts, they would only stipulate it would have to be practical, but inso doing, that could make stunts more and more dangerous

  4. but then again, i think everyone in the industry would like an Oscar

  5. I don't think they are too humble for this.....this discussion is being lead by one of the industry's most prolific stunt coordinators.  They want this to happen.  See the original link to THR article.

  6. I think that stunts are often as important to films as visual effects (depending on the styles/genre of individual films), but that less respect is accorded because stunts are not viewed as an "art."  I love directors who are willing to do the physical stunts + location shoots and not rely on CGI.  Recognition of stunt work might encourage more of this style of filmmaking, which would make me happy.

  7. I think they make a compelling argument for inclusion.  However, the big question is where to put the award as all 3 ceremonies are already jam-packed.  

  8. Time to unload the thought that's been flitting in the back of my mind for two weeks.  I've never been fond of reasons like "there's no time" but it's not my show to schedule.  However, and this may amuse you, I did have the they could try stunts out as a category if there's ever a year no songs make the cut thought.  


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