Does the Academy need a Best Cast Ensemble category?

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Whenever the subject of new Oscar categories is brought up in conversation, one of the first ones mentioned is a Best Cast Ensemble category (along with recognition for Stunt Coordinators). Personally, I’m rather intrigued by an Ensemble addition, though it really depends as much as anything on what kinds of nominees we’d have. I have no issues with any category additions at all…I say the more the merrier. The only downside is with certain categories, you wouldn’t have more diverse nominees or anything like that. You’d just get the Best Picture nominees adding one more nod to their belts. That sort of a nom is mostly meaningless, but if it cites a wider range of work, then I’m all for it.

The actual odds of a new category being added to the Oscar telecast is somewhat unlikely, due to how rushed the ceremony already is, but to me that shouldn’t matter. Whether you’re talking about Cast Ensemble or Stunt Coordinators or even Casting Directors as another example, it should be about if they’re doing the type of work worthy of a statue. That should really only be what matters.

Look at last year as an example. Let’s say the category had been in existence. If you just assume that Oscar voters will just be boring and cite five of the Best Picture nominees in this field. That would mean just another nod for the likes of 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska, and The Wolf of Wall Street, if I had to guess. That’s nothing too special. Now, if this imagined category would allow for the likes of August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine, Inside Llewyn Davis, Prisoners, and Saving Mr. Banks instead (just to throw five out there), wouldn’t that make for a more interesting lineup? Even more so if more ignored/smaller contenders like Blue is the Warmest Color, Frozen (as way to acknowledge voice work), Lone Survivor, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, or The Spectacular Now were able to get those open noms.

This year, if the category were to exist, there’d be no shortage of potential ensembles to honor. Members of the Academy will be able to choose from plenty of stacked casts in films like Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, Fury, Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Maps to the Stars, Men Women & Children, and Unbroken, just to name a few. Those are just the ones we can sort of make educated guesses about right now, too. There’s certainly the potential for a very interesting lineup if this category were to be created.

Basically, it all comes down to who and what would be nominated. It’s sort of a moot point for now, but it’s an interesting thing to ponder on a Monday, right? I think there’s the potential for an exciting lineup for Best Cast Ensemble year in and year out if voters looked at it properly. If the category is ever created, we’ll certainly approach this discussion again, but at this point it’s just my thinking out loud a bit…

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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