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Whenever the conversation about potential new categories at the Academy Awards rolls around among award geeks, a Best Casting prize (generally in tandem with one for Best Ensemble) will usually be one of the first suggestions. It's a worthy idea, but one that -- like the oft-suggested category for stunt work -- I fear would prove useless in practice. Casting may be one of the most vital contributions to the filmmaking process, but I doubt most laymen would be able to discern what it actually entails. They struggle enough with sound editing without having to judge off-screen disciplines too.
I strongly suspect an Oscar category for Best Casting would just wind up dully adding to the laurels of sundry Best Picture winners, brilliantly cast or otherwise. You might expect the Casting Society of America's awards to take a different tack, but no: despite landing far outside awards season, the nominations for their Artios Awards check off most of the same 2011 contenders all the other guilds did seven months ago, with a few 2012 early birds thrown in for good measure.
So, just when you thought they couldn't be rewarded any further, Oscar winners/nominees "The Artist," "The Descendants," "The Help," "Moneyball," "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," "My Week With Marilyn" and "The Ides of March" are all back for more. The most notable 2012 film to crack the list is "The Hunger Games," which slots into the Big Budget Feature: Drama category in place of, say, "Hugo" or "War Horse." It's a small victory, but seeing it alongside four 2011 Oscar players does forge a certain mental connection: with nothing else on its slate, could Lionsgate run a serious awards campaign for its springtime blockbuster? (Also, I don't know when the eligibility cut-off date was, but "The Avengers" surely missed out in the Comedy category.)
Still, I can't help but wonder if these are really the most ingeniously cast films of the last 12 months or so. Is there no professional admiration for the eerily remarkable child casting in "We Need to Talk About Kevin," or the meticulous perfectionism applied to both star roles and background faces in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy?" What do I know? Anyway, the awards take place on October 29: bet you didn't think "The Artist" would still be winning stuff then.
Full list of film nominees:
Big Budget Feature: Drama
"The Descendants," John Jackson, John McAlary (Associate), Andy Henry (Associate), Yesi Ramirez (Associate)
"The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," Laray Mayfield
"The Help," Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
"The Hunger Games," Debra Zane, Jackie Burch (Location Casting)
"Moneyball," Francine Maisler, Lauren Grey (Associate)
Big Budget Feature: Comedy
"21 Jump Street," Jeanne McCarthy, Nicole Abellera, Elizabeth Coulon, (Location Casting), Yesi Ramirez (Associate)
"Crazy, Stupid, Love," Mindy Marin, Kara Lipson (Associate)
"Horrible Bosses," Lisa Beach, Sarah Katzman
"The Muppets," Marcia Ross, Gail Goldberg, Brittainy Roberts (Associate)
"The Rum Diary," Denise Chamian, Angela Demo (Associate)
Studio or Independent Feature: Drama
"Drive," Mindy Marin, Kara Lipson (Associate)
"The Ides of March," Ellen Chenoweth, Amelia McCarthy (Associate),
"Margin Call," Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield
"My Week With Marilyn," Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Nina Gold (Location Casting)
"Shame," Avy Kaufman
Studio or Independent Feature: Comedy
"50/50," Francine Maisler,
"The Artist," Heidi Levitt, Michael Sanford (Associate)
"Friends With Kids," Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, David Vaccari
"The Guard," Jina Jay
"Hysteria," Gaby Kester
Low Budget Feature: Comedy or Drama
"A Bag of Hammers," Brad Gilmore
"Higher Ground," Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
"Like Crazy," Eyde Belasco
"Martha Marcy May Marlene," Susan Shopmaker
"Pariah," Eyde Belasco
"The Adventures of Tintin," Jina Jay
"Cars 2," Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
"Happy Feet Two," Kristy Carlson
Everything: Academy Awards
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