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The Oscars announce new award category for 2026 to honor casting achievements

The 160 casting directors of the Academy had been pushing for decades for the creation of this prize. It is the first time in almost 25 years that the organization comes up with a new category

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Oscar trophies backstage at the 89th Academy Awards in February 2017.Christopher Polk

With a month left to go before the Oscar winners are announced, and with Hollywood immersed in the whirlwind of its awards season, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has sprung a surprise on everyone: a new award category will go into effect in 2026 for achievements in casting. Films released in 2025 will be eligible for the award the following year.

This is the first time in almost 25 years that the Academy has created a new award, after it introduced the best animated feature film category in 2001 (won by Shrek in 2002). “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,” Academy president Janet Yang and chief executive Bill Kramer said in a joint statement.

The Academy has around 10,500 members — last year it added almost 400 new ones — who are organized into 18 categories or branches, as they are called by the Academy: actors, producers, screenwriters, musicians, makeup artists, film executives, etc. And since July 2013, there is also a branch for casting directors. This is the smallest branch, with 158 members, and they did not have a specific award to their name. But as the Academy suggested in its statement, they have been pushing for some time for this kind of acknowledgment. “We congratulate our Casting Directors Branch members on this exciting milestone and for their commitment and diligence throughout this process,” the Academy wrote. The branch also issued a statement thanking the Academy and its members for their support. “This award is a deserved acknowledgment of our casting directors’ exceptional talents and a testament to the dedicated efforts of our branch,” said Academy Casting Director Branch governors Richard Hicks, Kim Taylor-Colman and Debra Zane in the statement.

Casting directors first fought to be part of the organization and have since fought to have their own award. Category rules for eligibility will be known in April 2025. As the specialized media outlet Variety explains, it was in the late 1990s when casting directors began to fight to have their work recognized, although their efforts did not come to fruition. It took almost 15 years to create a specific branch within the Academy. David Rubin, one of its most illustrious members, has been secretary and president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Oscars ceremony currently hands out 23 awards, and this will be the 24th. But not all awards are announced at the grand gala, which this year takes place on March 10. The already lengthy gala has an audience of between 16 and 20 million people, and it is still not known whether the new category will be part of the televised broadcast.

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