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« De Laurentiis pt 3: Starting over in America | Main | Doc Corner: 'One Child Nation' is an Oscar Frontrunner »
Wednesday
Aug072019

David Rubin elected President of AMPAS

Casting director David Rubin has been elected the new President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. It's a prestigious position but not without dozens upon dozens of high-profile headaches. Nobody is ever pleased with the Oscars which we've always taken as a sign of their continued relevance; people wouldn't constantly be complaining about the institution if they didn't care about it! 

This will mark the first time a Casting Director has ever served as AMPAS president. The news of Rubin's election came in the same 24 hours that BAFTA announced that they would be adding a Casting category to their awards which begs the following oft asked question... Is there ever going to be an Oscar category for Achievement in Casting?

We've asked this before because it remains the most crucial component of filmmaking that has no competitive category. The only other department as high profile that doesn't have an Oscar is surely stunts. 

One of the chief arguments we've heard against a casting Oscar is that the work is largely invisible. We see the actors onscreen, but we don't see the auditions... we don't know the complicated decisions that went in to that exact cast mix. We aren't privvy to the meetings for actors who are "offer only" to suss out what convinced the filmmakers to hire them. And we don't know whose idea any particular casting decision was since a number of different people are involved in the process. It's a complicated art but, you know, so is  editing, which is completely invisible to anyone outside the editing room but for what we see on screen. There's been an Oscar for film editing for the past 84 years. Even when they make eyebrow raising decisions like last year's laughable statue to the editing nightmare Bohemian Rhapsody, it doesn't negate the fact that that Oscar should exist. 

The Oscars are never going to be perfect. Even if they did achieve that mythical state, nobody would agree that they had, as it's all subjective. Neverthless they should strive to be their perfect selves and so there ought to be an Oscar for casting directors. It's too crucial a contribution to each and every narrative feature to be so lacking in respect from the most important Hollywood institution.

David Rubin's genius is casting was amply evident in "The English Patient"

If there had already been an Oscar for casting Rubin would surely have won it by now. His films include Best Picture winners like The English Patient, Best picture nominees like Four Weddings and a Funeral and Gravity, hit franchise-starters like Men in Black and The Addams Family, and other extremely well-cast gems like The Talented Mr. Ripley, My Best Friend’s Wedding, and William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.

[Here's a complete list of the Academy's new and/or continuing Board of Governors.]

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Reader Comments (14)

He sure knows how to pick 'em.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

I hope the "casting" Oscar happens soon as possible!!

But, I want him named "Best Ensemble". Sounds better than "Best Casting" and the audience don't have to think very much when hear the award name ("what is casting?")

I hope, too, the stunt coordinators has their very deserved Oscar very soon. Named "Best Stunt Coordinator"

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeor

Hear, hear. If AMPAS is going to create a new category, why do Best Achievement in Popular Film (or whatever the fuck nonsense it was called) when Best Casting and Best Stunts are right there, glaringly missing?

That said, I do wonder is Best Casting would become just a de facto best ensemble award? Because that *does* seem like the obvious slope for (certain) voters who may not put a lot of thought into it.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Hope it never happens. We all know they will reward movies like Once Upon a Time in Hollywood instead of We the Animals.

P.S. Goodbye Mr. Bailey! You won't be missed.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I think any potential Best Stunts Category should also include Choreography as well.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I would have voted for Fargo in '96.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterWallis Nicita

Nope. It would become a de facto award for the starriest casts. Also the nominees/winners would be EXTREMELY repetitive. Would love to see Juliet Taylor get an Honorary, though.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPete

Fargo or Trainspotting.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I agree they would make bad choices with the winners they'd pick, but that is not why the category shouldn't exist. The same could be said of a lot of the other categories that just repeat awards for the Best Picture frontrunner.

August 7, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterLucky

A good start would be having nominations morning go back to the traditional five-screen presentation and dump the 5:30 AM stand-up routines.

August 8, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterzig

@Geor - my only fear if they named it 'best ensemble' is that they would then use it like SAG to be actually a best picture award - but a best stunt coordinator would be great. I'm envisioning the live stunts from Fury Road as #1 reason to have this kind of award.

August 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

I think a Best Casting could award films that you wouldn't otherwise get awarded (in a good way). For example, I would give it to The Royal Tenebaums in 2001.

This would also be interesting to see if some ensemble foreign films (a la Almodovar) could break in, or if they go more populist and nominate a film in the MCU.

August 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBen

zig -- yes, 100%

August 8, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Let's all play, shall we? If the award "Best Casting" (I like what u say @Rebecca) and "Best Stunt Coordinator" has being awarded since 2001, which movies do you award with them?

Best Casting (from 2001 to 2018, in order):
The Royal Tenenbaums, The Hours, LOTR Return of the King, Eternal Sunshine, Munich, Volver, Zodiac, The Class, Inglorious Basterds, The Social Network, A Separation, Lincoln, Inside Llewyn Davis, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mad Max: Fury Road, Moonlight, Dunkirk, The Favorite

Best Stunt Coordinator (from 2001 to 2018, in order):
Black Hawk Down, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, ?, Kingdom of Heaven, Casino Royale, ?, The Dark Knight, ?, Inception, Mission: Impossible - 4, Skyfall, Captain Philips, ?, Mad Max: Fury Road, ?, Baby Driver / Dunkirk, Mission: Impossible - Fallout

August 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterGeor

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