Now 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.