Mission: Impossible – Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie thinks that instead of a Best Popular Film category, the Oscars should add one that honors the best stunts. After seeing the Oscars telecast dip in ratings in recent years, the Academy announced in August that it would be adding a new award celebrating the year’s best “popular” film.
The rationale behind the Best Popular Film category was simple: It would garner the interest of mainstream movie fans who might not normally care about tuning in to the awards show. High-grossing blockbuster-type genre films of course are seldom included in the Oscar race, and Best Popular Film would be a way to celebrate such movies without watering down the race for the more prestigious Best Picture award. But the idea was met with immediate backlash by those who saw Best Popular Film as a way of shutting comic book and animated movies out of the Best Picture race altogether. The Academy later said they were scrapping plans for the new category, at least for the time being.
Speaking to Collider, Mission: Impossible – Fallout director Christopher McQuarrie added his two cents on the Best Popular Film plan, saying he’s glad the Academy is not going forward with the idea at this time. McQuarrie then pitched his own idea for a new Oscars category that would be more valuable and relevant: a category that honors the film with the best stuntwork. McQuarrie said:
I can’t think of a film recently that might qualify, but, that’s an art, that’s a skill, that’s a craft. Those are people risking their lives and doing things that are absolutely and utterly truly amazing and are so much a part of an experience like that. Not just in films like this. You go look at Hell or High Water. Lone Survivor. The stunts in that movie were absolutely incredible. In terms of a new category, I think you need to do that.
McQuarrie is of course playing coy with his remark that he “can’t think of a recent film that might qualify” as his own movie Mission: Impossible - Fallout certainly would qualify and would likely claim the Best Stunts award if such a thing existed. Fallout is filled with as many outrageous stunts as anyone has seen in recent years, with Tom Cruise himself at the center of most of the movie's wildest sequences, including one where he jumps from an airplane and another where he dangles from the bottom of a helicopter.
Indeed, McQuarrie is not the first person to suggest an Oscar category that honors stuntwork. The argument is that stunt performers are true performers who possess particular indispensable skills, and without them the movies just would not be the same, so they deserve recognition. Of course, in recent years CGI has taken up much of the work of stunt performers, but lately there's been a return to more practical effects and true stunt performing, with movies like Mission: Impossible - Fallout leading the way in that regard. In a way, stunt performers are more in demand than ever, thanks to the proliferation of big budget TV and streaming series that require elaborate stunt work. If McQuarrie and others had their way, the Oscars would forget their Best Popular Film idea and instead reserve some gold statues for the folks who put their lives on the line to bring movie action to life.