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While Helen Mirren is best known for dramatic roles like her Oscar-winning turn in The Queen, the actress has made no secret of her interest in doing more action-oriented movies as well. Mirren co-starred in two Red movies, which followed a group of retired spies, and most recently she had a small role in The Fate of the Furious opposite Vin Diesel. Her involvement in these films has given her the opportunity to watch more stunt performers work, and doing so has led the actress to the opinion that they should be considered for Academy Awards. According to Mirren...
They're extraordinary, these special effects guys and stunt guys. To watch those craftsmen at work... There really should be an Oscar for stunt work. These guys are incredible and they're so careful and so professional. And they're artists. The do amazing things.
The Academy Awards recognize a wide variety of disciplines within filmmaking but stunt work is one area where awards are not currently given. There is a yearly award given specifically to stunt people, The Taurus World Stunt Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild has also given an award for Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture since 2007, but that's about it.
The fact that stunt people are not recognized by the Academy has been an issue for years. In 2016 stunt people held a protest outside the offices of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in an attempt to publicize their lack of inclusion. The category of Best Stunt Coordination was proposed to the Academy as early as 1991 but it has been rejected every year it has come up for consideration. The Academy hasn't added a new category since Best Animated Feature in 2001.
There are few people who would argue with Helen Mirren's statement to Total Film that stunt people do amazing things and are truly artists. The action that we all love to see in movies is often done by them rather than the movie stars we know, and they get little recognition for it. It would be wonderful if the most important awards in the industry were to recognize these skilled people.
The Oscars could add a category for Best Stunt Coordinator as has been proposed previously or one for Ensemble Stunt Performers as the Screen Actors Guild has done, or, in a perfect world, both.
Stunts are a vital and skilled aspect of filmmaking, just like every other discipline, and while it's certainly difficult to have an award for every single aspect of a film production, it feels like the stunt people are long overdue. They give amazing performances on screen just like the actors, and while their time might be more limited, they certainly make it count.