The Academy Awards, for all its glorifying of great performances and well directed films, has never really appreciated another art form in itself, stunts. Death-defying stunts have been a staple of Hollywood cinema since the beginning of film. Every action film will undoubtably involve at least a handful of dangerous set pieces that are simply too risky for the actors to be doing themselves. Furious 7 is the latest film to weigh into the argument of a separate category for stunt coordination. Vin Diesel went on to say Furious 7 deserves an Oscar for best film, unfortunately thats highly unlikely to happen, but it certainly does deserve an Oscar nod for the crazy action sequences the series is famously known for.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last declined a proposal for a stunts category back in 2011, after a 20 year campaign headed by stunt coordinator Jack Gill. Gill, who has worked in the industry for over 40 years, has been involved in coordinating some of the most incredible stunts in the industry, including Con Air, Gone in 60 Seconds, Fast and Furious, The Rock as well as TV shows such as Knight Rider and the Dukes of Hazzard. Gill started to campaign in 1991 in order to garner support in persuading the Academy to add a category that would recognise and celebrate the work of stunt coordination teams as well as the stunt men themselves.
The Screen Actors Guild did however add a stunt category to their awards in 2007. The award, which recognises outstanding performances by a stunt ensemble in a motion picture, awarded The Bourne Ultimatum the first prize back in 2007, beating out competition from 300, I Am Legend, The Kingdom and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. But unfortunately, the Academy Awards have not followed suit and do not wish to add another category to its already packed awards schedule. The only time the Oscars have recognised a stunt performer was in 1966 when Yakima Canutt received an honorary award for “achievements as a stunt man and developing safety devices to protect stunt men everywhere”.
The work that stunt coordinators do in both film and television are rarely afforded the recognition and praise they deserve. Stunt coordinators design and execute highly dangerous action sequences including high speed car chases and crashes, explosions, fight scenes and any other action sequence that is considered risky and dangerous. The likes of which require extreme levels of preparation, safety checks, and of course the actual mental challenge of executing the stunt. Gill isn’t the only one out of the industry to speak up for awards recognitions for stunt men and women, Jason Statham (The Transporter, Snatch, Crank), who performs a lot of his own stunts, has called for the Academy to recognise the efforts and dangers of stunt coordinators in the industry.
But it isn’t just the stunt men/women or coordinators themselves that are calling for further recognition, but the notion of having an extra category awarding those who risk everything for the entertainment of others include such high profile supporters as Steven Spielberg, Dustin Hoffman, David O’Russell and many more. Having been knocked back a few times, Gill isn’t about to give up campaigning for a stunt Oscar, he will keep trying and attempt to gather more support. If make-up and costume can get an Oscar category then surely stunts, one of the most integral part of most films, including some of the most entertaining and gripping films in cinema history, can at the very least deserve their own Academy Award category.