The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has tinkered with the Oscar categories quite a bit over the years—though less so lately: Apart from adding the animated feature film category in 2001, and divvying up some of the technical awards differently, the ceremony hasn’t seen much deviation in its awards roster for the last few decades. In 1929, they gave out an Oscar for Best Title Writing, but these days, to find such interesting accolades, you have to look overseas.
At India, for instance, which has a slew of awards shows, full of unexpected categories. The Filmfare Awards give out honors for Best Scene, which is one I’d like to see Hollywood try. Less appealing is the Power Award, which was given to “the most powerful name in Bollywood,” judged according to the votes of industry members. (This was discontinued in 2008 after the same people won it again and again.) Meanwhile, the Kerala State Film Awards in India hand out silver medals, honoring Second Best Film, Second Best Actor, and Second Best Actress. They also give out honors for Best Book on Cinema and Best Article on Cinema. (I’m holding out hope for this piece.)
And while the Golden Globes separate acting for Dramas and Comedies or Musicals, the Apsara Awards, one of Bollywood’s biggest events, annually highlights the year’s best Actor in a Negative Role—which we imagine must significantly weaken their supporting actor category. (Or perhaps it could be redundant with the Razzies, depending on your interpretation of “negative.”) Note: These particular Apsara categories are not divided by gender, and so far the nominees in each have been overwhelmingly male.
While a “new performer” category is common at foreign ceremonies, the French Césars award of “Most Promising Actor/Actress,” seems to have a very loose definition of “promising,” as actors and actresses in their mid-30s who have already starred in several films are frequently nominated. In 2004, Gaspard Ulliel won the award for showing great promise… again: He had been nominated three years in a row.
Quebec’s Jutra awards divide best Make-Up and Best Hairstyling. The Jussi Awards in Finland not only have a Best Film Award, but also a “People’s Choice” that the public gets to vote on, allowing them to show their displeasure with what the film professionals have chosen. The Genie Awards of Canada take a more straightforward approach to popular acclaim, giving the “Golden Reel” to the movie with the biggest box office grosses. (I can’t imagine there’s much suspense opening that envelope.)
The Bavarian Film Awards tried to honor smaller films, giving out an award for Best Director of a low budget film, an idea similar to one suggested in Slate’s Oscars Hive, in which we solicited reader suggestions for fixing the Oscars. Sadly, as with the Academy’s ill-fated Oscar for Best Title Writing, the award was canceled after one year.