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#Which Movies Would’ve Won Over 96 Years

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For the first time in a quarter century, a new Oscar category is upon us. Beginning in 2026, honoring films from 2025, the Academy will recognize the best casting of the year. It’s a long-overdue and well-deserved recognition for the casting directors who place such an integral building block in a film’s production but have not yet received their moment in the awards spotlight.

We’ll never know who would have won best casting over the first 96 years of the Oscars, had the category been introduced way back at the inaugural ceremony. But, with a little math and a little speculation, we can at least make some educated guesses to fill in this nearly-century-long gap in Oscar history. Before diving in, a few data points to guide us:

Precursor Awards: We do have a few in more recent years. The Casting Society of America’s Artios Awards were first held in 1985, though they break their winners up by genre. The Screen Actors Guild first awarded its best cast trophy in 1996, which is related but not identical to casting. The BAFTAs first introduced a casting category in 2020.

Correlation with other categories: Using the SAG best cast award as a proxy, 50 percent of winners are best picture winners, 97 percent are best picture nominees, 32 percent are best director winners, 66 percent are best director nominees, 18 percent are best actor/actress winners, and 36 percent are best supporting actor winners. These films have an average 0.4 nominations for best actor/actress and 1.3 nominations for supporting actor/actress. Importantly, note that the supporting categories are more closely related to winning best cast than the lead categories are.

Correlation among existing categories: In general, the Oscars don’t spread the wealth. Best picture-winning films account for 29 percent of all winning films in all feature-length, non-genre-specific categories. Best picture-nominated films account for 68 percent of all winning films in all feature-length, non-genre-specific categories. So if the Academy likes a movie overall, they tend to prefer it in every category up and down the ballot, and it’s reasonable to assume this would also apply to best casting.

Bigger cast size is better: On average, SAG best cast nominees to win the award have 10.6 primary credited actors. On average, SAG best cast nominees to lose the award have 8.7 primary credited actors. The more, the merrier.

But these facts alone are insufficient to invent an alternate history. There is still a fair amount of common sense and guesswork in the list that’s about to follow. I did my very best to ignore my own personal opinions of these films — this is a list of what would have won, not a list of what should have won — but it’s impossible to eliminate all bias in this type of exercise. I’m sure that any two film historians making a similar list would have plenty of differences, and those differences make for plenty of fun debates.

Without further ado, a walk through the imaginary history of the Oscar for best casting:

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