The Big Picture
- The National Board of Review is introducing a new award for Achievement in Stunt Artistry to recognize underappreciated stunt artists in the entertainment industry.
- The inclusion of a stunt category by the National Board may motivate more prominent awards, like the Academy Awards, to consider creating a similar category.
- While both the SAG Awards and Emmys have stunt categories, the National Board’s decision could accelerate the conversation surrounding stunt recognition in the industry.
The National Board of Review is slated to hold its annual awards gala on January 11, 2024 in New York City. This year, though, a new award will be given out to recognize a group of individuals who often go underappreciated in Hollywood, as they have created a new category for Achievement in Stunt Artistry.
The award will be given out “to celebrate the accomplishments and work of stunt artists,” and the honor will be awarded alongside the Board’s longstanding categories including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, Best Original and Adapted Screenplay, Breakthrough Performance, and Best Directorial Debut. In addition, the Board is once again slated to give out a pair of “signature honors”: the Freedom of Expression Award and Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography. The Board is expected to announce its list of honorees this coming December.
While not well known outside of the entertainment industry, the National Board of Review has been somewhat of a Hollywood mainstay since its founding more than 100 years ago, and has continued to grow in influence. Based in New York City, the Board is made up of a “select group of film enthusiasts, filmmakers, professionals and academics,” according to the statement, and views more than 250 films a year. Selections by the Board are notable because they can often propel overlooked films “into the larger awards conversation.” This includes films such as Warner Bros.’ Mad Max: Fury Road and Universal’s Green Book, the latter of which gained momentum following a strong NBR showing and went onto win three Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Stunt Performances are Mostly Overlooked
Given the influence of the National Board of Review, its decision to include a stunt category could bode well for more prominent awards, many of which do not currently give out prizes for stunt work. The most prestigious, the Academy Awards, has never had a stunt category. Many in the industry, such as John Wick director Chad Stahelski, have been pushing for the Academy to create an award for Best Stunts. While Stahelski has said he is meeting with the Academy about this potential category, nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
The closest the Academy Awards ever seemed to get to recognizing stunt work was a proposed award for “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film,” which likely would’ve recognized films that are exclusively designed for mass appeal. Amidst backlash from the industry, though, the proposal for this award was pulled.
However, it isn’t impossible to think that the inclusion of a stunt category by the National Board could begin to renew calls for a stunt inclusion at the Academy Awards. Giving out awards for stunts is also not totally unprecedented in Hollywood, as both the SAG Awards and Emmys both have two stunt categories. The Emmys are only television awards, though, and the SAG Awards sit behind the Academy Awards and BAFTAs in terms of their prestige. That being said, this choice by the National Board could, at the very least, help the conversation over stunt categories move at a faster pace.