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Academy Creates 17th Branch



Blimey, AMPAS are going branch crazy this year. Since the previous Oscars in February the Costume Designers branch was established, and earlier today it was announced, after their monthly board meeting, that Casting Directors would be the newest. To clarify – the Academy are divided into branches according to profession, comprised of nominated members who represent the best of the best in these key creative areas. Each branch has 3 members to represent it on the board, but crucially these 17 branches also have the power to vote for Oscars.

Introducing Casting Directors as voting members of the Academy is an important decision, not least because it officially acknowledges the creative input a CD can make to a production. The Oscar for Costume Design was first presented in the 1940s, and only this year were they recnognised with their own branch, so does this mean we will inevitable see an Academy Award created to reward the efforts of Casting Directors? This is of course speculation, but with Casting Directors now represented on the board, they have a much louder voice in the decision making process, so it’s not unlikely.

However, this can also affect voting in the existing 24 categories. Casting Directors will have no category of their own, so nominations are almost entirely out of their hands, except for Best Picture, but the final ballots are issued to everyone. Assuming Casting Directors will share a mindset with the Actors branch (who already constitute a significant proportion of the voting membership), they are likely to judge the quality of films primarily on the merit of its cast. So what we can say with relative assurance is the focus of Oscar voting has been pushed more in favour of those with strong acting.

To summarise, for the time being nothing has changed.


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