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Academy Announces New Annual Oscar Category To Debut In 2026, First Addition In 20 Years

The Academy has announced an addition to the prestigious Oscar categories: an annual award recognizing excellence in casting, set to debut in 2026, marking the first new category in two decades. This move highlights the Academy's evolving recognition of the crucial role casting directors play in filmmaking.

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New Oscars Category For 2026 Photo: Getty Images

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has revealed plans to introduce an annual Oscar award for excellence in casting. This new accolade, set to debut in 2026, marks the first addition to the Oscar categories since the inception of the best animated feature award in 2002, which was announced in 2001.

The revelation comes as somewhat unexpected, given the ongoing pressure on the Academy, particularly in recent times, to streamline the number of categories featured during its ABC telecast to maintain viewership.

While it hasn't been officially confirmed whether the casting Oscar will be presented during the telecast, it seems highly likely. Currently, twenty-three awards are distributed on air, although the typical viewer tends to focus on only four or five of them.

Conversely, the Academy has shown growing support for casting directors in recent times. While practitioners of the profession have been part of the organization for many years, they were previously categorized as members-at-large until 2013, when the Academy established a casting directors branch.

Following that, in a significant milestone, a casting director was elected as Academy president for the first time six years later; David Rubin served in this role from 2019 to 2022. Presently, the casting directors branch comprises 158 active members, making it the smallest among the Academy's 19 branches.

In a statement released on Thursday, Janet Yang, the current Academy president, and CEO Bill Kramer affirmed, “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. We congratulate our casting directors branch members on this exciting milestone and for their commitment and diligence throughout this process.”

The three governors of the Academy's casting directors branch, Richard Hicks, Kim Taylor-Coleman, and Debra Zane, expressed their gratitude, stating, “On behalf of the members of the casting directors branch, we’d like to thank the board of governors, the awards committee and Academy leadership 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.”

The rules regarding eligibility and voting for the inaugural award will be disclosed in April 2025 alongside the comprehensive guidelines for the 98th Academy Awards. Details concerning the presentation of the award will be decided by the Academy's board of governors and administrative leadership at a later time.

What are the 24 Oscar Categories?

  • Best Picture

  • Best Director

  • Actor in a Leading Role

  • Actress in a Leading Role

  • Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Adapted Screenplay (Writing)

  • Original Screenplay (Writing)

  • Cinematography

  • Original Song (Music)

  • Costume Design

  • Sound

  • Original Score (Music)

  • Live Action Short Film

  • Animated Short Film

  • Documentary Feature Film

  • Documentary Short Film

  • International Feature Film

  • Animated Feature Film

  • Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Production Design

  • Film Editing

  • Visual Effects

  • Achievement in Casting