Casting Directors Deserve Oscar Recognition

As I'm writing this, the SAG Awards are honoring the greatest acting achievements of the year. One great category that the Screen Actors Guild recognizes that the Academy Awards does not is "Best Ensemble." (Argo won "Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture," Modern Family won "Best Ensemble in a TV Comedy," and Downton Abbey won "Best Ensemble in a TV Drama.") I have long argued that there needs to be a "Best Casting" category in the Oscars.

It's fine to draw attention to individual performances, but it's also worth noting those collaborative efforts when actors work together, the sum total adding up to more than the stand-alone parts.  If the Academy acknowledges individual actors and actresses, directors and cinematographers, screenwriters and producers, even songwriters, sound technicians, costumers, and set designers, why not award casting directors who put faces to roles, who use their skills to patch together a group of actors who will bring the parts to life and have the needed chemistry to make audiences believe the stories they are seeing?

Here are some of the movies nominated this year for the Academy Awards and the fine actors who make up their stellar casts.

Argo - Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Victor Garber, etc. (Casting by Lora Kennedy.)

Django Unchained - Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, etc. (Casting by Victoria Thomas.)

Les Miserables - Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, etc. (Casting by Nina Gold.)

Lincoln - Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader, Hal Holbrook, Tommy Lee Jones, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Haley, Bruce McGill, etc. (Casting by Avy Kaufman.)

Silver Linings Playbook - Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, etc. (Casting by Lindsay Graham and Mary Vernieu.)

Other movies with wonderful ensembles include:

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton, Maggie Smith, etc. (Casting by Michelle Guish and Seher Latif.)

Hitchcock - Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johannson, Danny Huston, Toni Collette, Jessica Biel, James D'Arcy, Ralph Macchio, etc. (Casting by Terri Taylor.)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Sylvester McCoy, Manu Bennett, etc. (Casting by Victoria Burrows, Amy Hubbard, John Hubbard, Liz Mullane, and Miranda Rivers.)

Marvel's The Avengers - Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, etc. (Casting by Sarah Finn and Randi Hiller.)

So let's give some proper credit to the casting directors who brought all those terrific actors together on these projects.