The Oscars Are Adding a New Award for Casting

When it debuts in 2026, the casting award will be the Academy’s first new category since 2001

Oscars statuettes
Casting directors have been pushing for a dedicated Oscar for decades. Kevin Winter / Getty Images

For the first time in over 20 years, the Academy Awards has announced the creation of a new category: Soon, it will begin presenting an Oscar for “achievement in casting.”

“Casting directors play an essential role in filmmaking, and as the Academy evolves, we are proud to add casting to the disciplines that we recognize and celebrate,” the Academy’s CEO Bill Kramer and president Janet Yang say in a statement, per the New York Times’ Julia Jacobs.

The news comes after years of pressure from casting directors seeking greater recognition. As Variety’s Clayton Davis writes, the push for a dedicated Oscar began in the late 1990s but garnered little support. In 2013, the Academy created a branch for casting directors, but it didn’t appear to be focused on adding a casting category. 

The details of the new award are still unknown, and the eligibility requirements won’t be released until 2025.

“It’s unclear what will constitute award-winning casting,” writes the Washington Post’s Herb Scribner. “Would the Academy favor a blockbuster packed with world-class actors such as Oppenheimer? Or a casting director who discovers Hollywood’s next star, or finds the perfect doppelgänger to play a historical figure?”

Prior to the announcement, the Academy’s newest category had been Best Animated Feature, which was first awarded to Shrek in 2001. Since then, other award shows have beaten the Academy to the punch by creating similar casting-related categories, including the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, the Screen Actors Guild and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, per the Washington Post.

“It feels like a long time coming,” Destiny Lilly, casting director for The Color Purple and president of the Casting Society of America, tells the Times. She adds that when the society was created in the ’80s, advocating for this award was one of its goals.

The Hollywood Reporter writes that the announcement is surprising “considering the pressure that the Academy has felt, especially in recent years, to consolidate the number of categories that it awards on its ABC telecast in order to retain as many viewers as possible.”

Even so, this isn’t the first recent attempt to create a new Oscar category. In 2018, the Academy tried to introduce an award recognizing “achievement in popular film” but canceled its debut after several weeks of backlash.

The Academy’s board of governors voted last week to officially add the new casting category. The statuette will be awarded to films released in 2025, so viewers can expect the first nominations and winners to be announced in 2026.

As Variety writes, the Oscars will be “casting a wider net,” bringing the total number of awards to 24.

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