A Stunt Category for the Oscars

There have been on-and-off efforts over the year to get a stunts category into the Academy Awards, and apparently those conversations are starting up again. As someone who would like to see more movies like Casino Royale or District 9 to be in Oscar contention, and for action movies to have more incentives to think of themselves as Oscar-worthy and to raise their game correspondingly, I think I’m in favor of such an addition, pending what the final categories look like, of course.

I’m also in favor of this for the same reason that I support some sort of collaborative performance category to recognize performances like Andy Serkis’: such categories would serve as an important reminder that the movies are a craft as much as they’re an art, and that they can’t exist without the people who do things that stars won’t, either because they require a different set of skills, or because they’re dangerous. A lot of what funds the ability of pretty, elegant people to do pretty, elegant things on screen (or, alternatively, to surrender their beauty and poise in ritual artistic acts of self-abnegation) is the work that’s done by these people to make movies that are exciting, and propulsive, and that sometimes are dumb but don’t inherently have to be. Action sequences can be as compelling, and as witty, as good dialogue. Movies like Mission Impossible IV and Casino Royale have been particularly good at using fights to joke about and comment on characters from the first and third worlds. And Mr. & Mrs. Smith is a decidedly more mediocre movie without the fight that destroys the main characters’ soul-sucking suburban facade and resurrects their sexual connection. That’s work, and it draws a lot of people to the movies, and it should be recognized for that, though it might make sense to start the category out small to set a consistently high bar.