Since 1993, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has refused to acknowledge the contribution of stuntwork to the art of filmmaking with their repeated opposition to an Oscar category for the Stunt Coordinator's role in designing and bringing every action moment to the screen. In the 27 years since Stunt Coordinators were first admitted into the Academy to develop a category, the sustained rejection and current shutdown of any further discussions have become tantamount to a determination by AMPAS that stunts and action are insignificant contributions to film and not worthy of an Oscar.
Long before movies had sound, music and visual effects, stunts have been an art form within the filmmaking process. It's difficult, then, to understand how an action category has been repeatedly rejected while others enjoy their well-deserved statue. Such a denial suggests that film stories can be told just as effectively WITHOUT action. If that were true, however, over a hundred nominated films and many Best Picture Oscar winners like TITANIC, THE HURT LOCKER, THE DEPARTED, MILLION DOLLAR BABY and BRAVEHEART could barely exist let alone win a trophy without the action sequences that complete their stories. It's almost as if stunts are already a part of the Oscars and the category would simply make it official. Unfortunately, however, that's not how the Academy sees it as evidenced by the 27 years of sustained rejection and the most recent response being that it will "never" happen. At a time when inclusion is a priority within the industry, the Academy has been asked to reopen discussions and resolve whatever prompted the "never" response so that a productive path to a Best Stunt Coordinator category can be achieved and the stunt community can receive equal recognition alongside their production team peers..
Unlike the Academy, studios are fully aware of action's value in a movie. In fact, they take full advantage of action scenes in trailers to heighten excitement for an upcoming film and to get audiences to buy tickets. Just consider how many stunts appear in promotional trailers. Even movies that are considered dramas and not action films need stunts in their movies and trailers to tell the story with emotional impact and sell tickets.
An interesting question then is...would you still buy a ticket to a movie if the trailer had no action? Decide that answer for yourself by checking out these "adjusted" trailers for Oscar winning films with ALL the stunt scenes notated for removal based on the premise that action is not a worthy contribution
BRAVEHEART -- 10 Oscar Nominations, 5 Wins including Best Picture
33 Stunt scenes stamped over so you can see just what it is that the Academy considers insignificant
INCEPTION -- 8 Oscar Nominations, 4 Wins
20 Stunt scenes stamped over so you can see just what it is that the Academy considers insignificant
LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING - 11 Oscar Nominations, 11 Wins Including Best Picture
24 Stunt scenes stamped over so you can see just what it is that the Academy considers insignificant
BLACK PANTHER -- 6 Oscar Nominations, 3 Wins
30 Stunt scenes stamped over so you can see just what it is that the Academy considers insignificant
MAD MAX FURY ROAD -- 10 Oscar Nominations, 6 Wins
50 Stunt scenes stamped over so you can see just what it is that the Academy considers insignificant.
HACKSAW RIDGE -- 2 Oscar Nominations, 2 Wins
31 Stunt scenes stamped over so you can see just what it is that the Academy considers insignificant
LET THEM KNOW THAT STUNTS DESERVE TO BE RECOGNIZED AT THE OSCARS
THE FORCE AWAKENS
THE AVENGERS - INFINITY WAR
AVENGERS - AGE OF ULTRON
HARRY POTTER DEATHLY HOLLOWS
STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI
JURASSIC WORLD FALLEN KINGDOM
THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS
IRON MAN 3
CAPTAIN AMERICA CIVIL WAR
TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON
LORD OF THE RINGS RETURN OF THE KING
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Blockbuster Action Films enable the studios to finance their next round of movies...and that means people in the film business can continue to make a living. So even though Academy members benefit enormously themselves from the movies that are loaded with action, Stunt Coordinators are repeatedly denied an Oscar category of their own at the Academy Awards.
British action star Jason Statham calls the Oscar snub “a total injustice. These are the unsung heroes. Nobody is giving them any credibility,” he recently told Vanity Fair. “They’re risking their necks. Then you have some guy standing in front of a f**king green screen screwing his face up pretending like he’s doing the stunt…a farce.” Statham, who often performs his own stunts, says he is frustrated by the rebuff “because I know these coordinators. I train with them all the time and they are incredibly talented.”
“There really should be an Oscar for stunt work,” she told the UK site Female First. “These guys are incredible and they’re so careful and so professional. And they’re artists. They do amazing things.”
Despite the support of film A-Listers such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Dwayne Johnson and thousands of others in the industry who understand first-hand the significant role of the Stunt Coordinator and support the creation of an Oscar category to recognize the position, the Academy continues to deny an award. In fact, any recent attempts to meet with them to continue the discussions have also been denied. The Stunt Community can only wonder what they could have done besides risk their limbs and lives in support of the filmmaking process to warrant such exclusion by the Academy.
Check out Entertainment Insider's breakdown of movie stunts and the role of the Stunt Coordinator
See for yourself how the role of Stunt Coordinator is considered an equal contributor to the storytelling process alongside many other Oscar categories in this behind-the-scenes look at Mad Max Fury Road
Just think how much more entertaining the Academy Awards show would be with all the clips for every action sequence that each nominated Stunt Coordinator has designed and implemented! Viewership could only go up when the show gets a dose of adrenaline! Then again, Stunt Coordinators would just be happy to be acknowledged with an award given out off-camera or during commercial breaks or anywhere if the concern by the Academy is that there's no room in the telecast for another category to be added. Being acknowledged with an Oscar recognizing their contribution to film on the level of so many other departments is all that really matters.