Yesterday I thought about casting director Juliet Taylor probably more than anyone on the planet who isn't Juliet Taylor. When her name came up on the screen in Woody Allen's trademark font during Blue Jasmine I smiled -- I love that font and those familiar names so much. I recalled that she'd narrowly missed our top ten for "Women Who Deserve an Honorary Oscar", winning the most votes for anyone not in the writing/directing/acting/producing fields. Her resume is astounding featuring the massive Woody Allen filmography and non Woody films as famous as The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, Terms of Endearment, The Stepford Wives and Interview with the Vampire (so you can probably thank her for Kirsten Dunst). We made that list in the hopes that someone with pull in the Academy would read it and think 'huh. These are great ideas to course correct!'
Woody Allen's infamous reputation as a silent director of actors extends into casting where his auditions are notoriously short... sometimes just a meet and greet is all you get. So you know Juliet Taylor works long hours before and after Woody says "yea" or "nay". So there I was thinking about her, wondering about how many decisions she's making on her own when the Academy announced that they were adding another new branch to their ranks, Casting Directors. People are already speculating about whether this means a Best Casting Oscar will be added to the annual horse race for gold.
My heart and mind war on this topic all the time. My heart knows that casting directors are crucial to a film's success and would warm to them being recognized -- it's obviously the single most important element of filmmaking that doesn't have a category. My mind, on the other hand, isn't sure this is a good idea. My mind knows that people would win the Oscars for the wrong reasons... even wronger [sic] reasons than people win other Oscars for in other categories! I'd argue that casting directors would win for which Movie Stars and Films were favored in any given year rather than their hard work filling the screen with less glitzy faces. I don't work in the film industry but I'd argue that Directors, Agents, Movie Stars, and Lawyers and Studio Heads signing off on budgets are the ones who decide which Movie Star is paired with which project -- especially since movie stars are often in place before the casting director is -- and that the casting director's brilliance is filling out the names in the below the title list, predicting the intangibles of chemistry and guiding the director to the right decisions about who goes best with whom. It's world building actually... the world of faces.
I imagine Best Casting would nearly always line up with Best Ensemble at SAG and come to mean "Starriest Cast That Is Also Our Vote For Best Picture" which is quite reductive. Do you imagine the same?
If you had to vote on Best Casting for 2013 right now, what would you pick? Without contest I'd name Short Term 12 the winner for 2013 (thus far) which mixes the awesome Brie Larson with Tony winner John Gallagher Jr (currently on The Newsroom on HBO) and a large supporting cast of wonderful unknown child and teenage actors. So congratulations to Rich Delia for winning my non-existent prize for this year! He only recently graduated to lead Casting Director (He also did Dallas Buyers Club this year) but he's been very busy for the past few years as a Casting Associate on dozens of movies including The Help and August: Osage County.