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Last month, the Academy's Board of Governors created a new branch for casting directors, 30 years after they were first invited to join the Academy. Few could argue that the move wasn't overdue, but there was more debate over the inevitable question that followed: should the Academy Awards have a category for Best Casting? There are arguments to be made in either direction, but I'd ultimately say no: casting is a highly skilled profession, but not a screen craft, and I don't think most Academy members are qualified to assess it. (Yes, most Academy members aren't qualified to assess sound editing either, but that's another discussion.)
In any event, until a Best Casting Oscar becomes a reality -- if, indeed, it ever does -- the top honor in the discipline will remain the Casting Society of America's Artios Awards, the nominations for which were announced today. The awards take place in November, and as such, the awards cover an odd mix of releases from the first half of 2013 and the last of 2012: if, nearly six months after its Academy Awards triumph, you can't stomach one more awards citation for "Argo," you may want to avert your eyes.
The nominees don't do much to dispel the notion that a Best Casting Oscar would rather unimaginatively benefit the leading Best Picture nominees in any given year: look at the Big Budget Drama category, for which the nominees are "Argo," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," “Les Misérables” and "Zero Dark Thirty."
Happily, the CSA's awards contain enough sub-divisions -- with films divided by genre and, somewhat fuzzily, by budget -- to allow for some out-of-the-box choices. It's nice to see a cleverly, counter-intuitively cast non-prestige film like "Magic Mike" in the mix, for example. Or "Pitch Perfect," with its youthful but carefully balanced ensemble. Or "The Place Beyond the Pines," with its smart experimentations with type.
The latter, incidentally, is one of the few 2013 releases amid the film nominees -- yet another example of how little early releases figure into the awards conversation. Others include "Mud," "Frances Ha" (a terrific pick), "Pain & Gain," "Epic" and "Oz the Great and Powerful," a film I would argue was rather inhibited by the casting of certain key roles. I guess the pros see it differently.
The bicoastal awards ceremony, which also honors theater work, takes place in New York and Los Angeles on November 18. Full list of film and TV nominees below.
Best Casting in a Big Budget Feature – Comedy
“Oz the Great and Powerful,” John Papsidera
“Pain & Gain,” Denise Chamian, Lori Wyman, Ania Kamieniecki-O’Hare
“Silver Linings Playbook,” Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Diane Heery
“Ted,” Sheila Jaffe, Angela Peri
“The Watch,” Alyssa Weisberg, Shay Bentley Griffin, Yesi Ramirez, Karina Walters
Best Casting in a Big Budget Feature – Drama
“Argo,” Lora Kennedy
“Life of Pi,” Avy Kaufman
“Lincoln,” Avy Kaufman, Erica Arvold, Pat Moran
“Les Misérables,” Nina Gold
“Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Bennett, Richard Hicks, Seher Latif
Best Casting in a Studio or Independent Feature – Comedy
“Hitchcock,” Terri Taylor, John McAlary
“Moonrise Kingdom,” Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein
“Pitch Perfect,” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee, Tracy Kilpatrick
“Seven Psychopaths,” Sarah Halley Finn, Tamara Hunter
“To Rome with Love,” Patricia DiCerto, Beatrice Kruger
Best Casting a Studio or Independent Feature – Drama
“The Company You Keep,” Avy Kaufman
“Lawless,” Francine Maisler
“Looper,” Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham, Lisa Mae Fincannon, Craig Fincannon
“Magic Mike,” Carmen Cuba, Wittney Horton
“Mud,” Francine Maisler, Diana Guthrie
“The Place Beyond the Pines,” Cindy Tolan, Adam Caldwell
Best Casting in a Low Budget Feature – Comedy or Drama
“Celeste & Jesse Forever,” Angela Demo
“Compliance,” Kerry Barden, Paul Schnee
“Frances Ha,” Douglas Aibel, Henry Russell Bergstein
“The Sessions,” Ronnie Yeskel
“Smashed,” Avy Kaufman, Kim Coleman
Best Casting in an Animated Feature
“Brave,” Kevin Reher, Natalie Lyon
“Epic,” Christian Kaplan
“Frankenweenie,” Ronna Kress, Jennifer Rudin
“Ice Age: Continental Drift,” Christian Kaplan
“Wreck-It Ralph,” Jamie Sparer Roberts
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