The Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences has declared that it would shortly start awarding an Oscar every year to honor outstanding casting. First announced in 2001, the organization started giving best animated picture in 2002. This will be the first new Oscar introduced, and it will be given out for the first time in 2026.
The news is rather unexpected given the pressure the Academy has faced, particularly in recent years, to reduce the number of categories it presents on its ABC broadcast in an effort to draw in as many viewers as possible. (Although it is difficult to envision, it has not yet been confirmed that the casting Oscar will be given during the telecast.) Currently, twenty-three prizes are given out live, however most viewers only really pay attention to four or five of them.
However, in recent years, the Academy has come to value casting directors more and more. Despite being members of the organization for many years, practitioners were not given membership status until 2013, when the casting directors branch was established by the organization. The Academy chose a casting director as president for the first time six years later; David Rubin served as president from 2019 to 2022. The casting directors branch is the smallest of the Academy’s 19 branches, with 158 members currently in active service.
Current Academy President Janet Yang and CEO Bill Kramer released the following statement on Thursday: “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. We congratulate our casting directors branch members on this exciting milestone and for their commitment and diligence throughout this process.”
“On behalf of the members of the casting directors branch, we’d like to thank the board of governors, the awards committee, and Academy leadership for their support,” stated the three governors of the casting directors branch of the Academy, Richard Hicks, Kim Taylor-Coleman, and Debra Zane. This honor is a well-earned recognition of the extraordinary abilities of our casting directors and a reflection of the committed work of our branch.
Category rules for eligibility and voting for the inaugural award will be announced in April 2025 as part of 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.