For the first time in over twenty years, the Oscars will have a new award to hand out but that won’t be handout at next month’s Academy Awards ceremony, though – the new award for Best Casting Director won’t be awarded until 2026.
Deadline reports that after a decades-long campaign by casting directors, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hand out a statue to the year’s best-cast picture. It’s the first new Oscar category since 2001 when Best Animated Feature was added to the ceremony.
In a statement, Academy CEO Bill Kramer and Academy President Janet Yang said “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.”
The award is slated to be awarded for the first time at the 98th Academy Awards in 2026, which will celebrate the best films of 2025; this year’s Oscars will air on Sunday, March 10 on ABC, with returning host Jimmy Kimmel.
When the Academy Awards began in 1927, many of the awards handed out were the same as those that are given out today – Best Picture, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Original and Adapted Screenplay. However, Best Director was divided in two, with separate awards handed out for dramas and comedies. The 1930s brought several categories that sprung from the popularity of films with sound, including Best Sound, Best Original Score, and Best Song; they also introduced awards for Best Supporting Actor and Actress in 1936.
With the introduction of color, likewise, separate awards were given for Best Color and Best Black and White Cinematography, Costume Design, and Art Direction; the two awards were combined into a single one in the 1960s. Before Best Animated Feature, the last category to be introduced was Best Hairstyling and Makeup, whose 1989 introduction was inspired by the astonishing prosthetics of David Lynch’s The Elephant Man. Recently, in 2019, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing were merged into a single category, Best Sound.
The new award comes at a time when another group of underappreciated film professionals have been campaigning to get their own Academy Award; stunt performers. Last year, word came out that John Wick director (and former stunt performer) Chad Stahelski was working with the Academy on creating a new award for stunts.
The Best Casting Director Oscar will be awarded for the first time at the 98th Academy Awards in 2026.