Brad Pitt's 'Hollywood' stuntman role puts new force into call for Oscar recognition

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The “Stand Up for Stunts” video for Alamo Drafthouse highlights stunt professionals and their work. It runs ahead of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”
USA TODAY

Stunt professionals have a new force highlighting their traditionally behind-the-scenes, often-overlooked work.

Enter superstar Brad Pitt as rugged stuntman Cliff Booth in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

The memorable performance in writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s film (now in theaters) gives an old-school, fictional look at a stuntman’s life — and is providing a boost for today’s stunt people seeking official award recognition by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

“We’ve got Brad Pitt on the ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ poster wearing a belt buckle from our stunt association. He’s portrayed as one of our members,” says Jeff Wolfe, vice president of the Stuntmen Association of Motion Pictures. The group, along with the Stuntwomen’s Association of Motion Pictures, has long advocated for a stunt Oscar. “The buzz around this whole discussion is really strong right now,” Wolfe says.

‘Once Upon A Time in Hollywood’ review: A fairy tale only Quentin Tarantino could tell

The Alamo Drafthouse national theater chain is featuring a “Stand Up for Stunts” high-octane video running ahead of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” screenings. Taken from 2007’s “Death Proof,” the video features Kurt Russell’s Stuntman Mike character at the wheel, and showcases real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell holding onto the trunk of his careening automobile. (Bell also served as stunt coordinator for “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”)

“So much about what we love about cinema is thanks to the hardworking stunt professionals who risk their lives for our entertainment,” the video text reads. “We think their work deserves recognition.”

The feature promotes a link to a online petition seeking Academy recognition for stunts (now at 110,000 signatures). Another original video running in Alamo’s “Hollywood” pre-show features an interview with retired stuntman Gary Kent.

Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League calls the effort to push for award recognition as “championing a great idea.”

“Perhaps just a little nudge and the public appreciation of the art form coming to the fore in the wake of ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ will be all it takes to bring it home,” he says.

The film’s release comes at a time when the real dangers, despite meticulous planning, of creating these fantastical film scenes is in the news after a stuntman was seriously injured this week on the set of “Fast Furious 9.”

While the Oscars honor everything from best visual effects to best sound mixing, Wolfe believes the award recognition has been hampered by an outdated philosophy — that focusing on the stunt work takes away from the leading-actor film magic. It’s a concept Tarantino touches on in “Hollywood” with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton showing a more evolved attitude in sharing recognition with Booth, his full-time stunt double.

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Leonardo DiCaprio. Brad Pitt. Margot Robbie. How many stars can you spot in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood?”
USA TODAY

The attitude of celebrating rather than hiding the stunt work is becoming more prevalent.

TV’s Emmy Awards recognize stunt coordinators as well as the Screen Actor Guild Awards. The Taurus World Stunt Awards have focused solely on the category since 2001.

But not the Academy, which bestowed an honorary Oscar to legendary stuntman Hal Needham in 2012. While stunt associations have even frequently lobbied outside of the Academy’s Los Angeles offices, the group did not address permanent recognition at its annual meeting in April.

During the July 13 premiere of “Fast Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw.” director David Leitch, who started his career as a stuntman (even doubling for Pitt), gave a passionate appeal for recognition from the stage before his action film started.

“What’s really frustrating in this business is that every year when the awards come up, every department gets to celebrate. But we are always left out,” Leitch says. “What about the blood and sweat of stunt crews that are the heartbeat of these action movies?

“As far as recognition of the Academy, it’s time,” he says.

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22. “Boyz n the Hood” (1991) • Genre: Crime, Drama • Directed by: John Singleton • Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir, Lloyd Avery II • Average critic rating: 8.41/10 • Director John Singleton’s culturally significant film compelled audiences to confront gun violence in minority neighborhoods. The movie is about the cycle of violence unleashed in a minority community after a high school athlete bound for USC on a football scholarship is gunned down and the toll that vengeance takes on African American youth. A cast of heavy hitters, including Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, and Angela Bassett, turned this film into a hit.   Courtesy of Columbia Pictures11. “The Avengers” (2012) • Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi • Directed by: Joss Whedon • Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner • Average critic rating: 8.06/10 • “The Avengers” is the 2012 entry to the biggest grossing franchise of all time. Earth’s greatest heroes — Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow — must join up to try and stop supervillain Loki and his army from enslaving humanity. The movie has made more than $693 million in domestic box office gross, the second highest gross of any movie in the franchise. Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

  • 24/7 Tempo took 343 movies found on the user-created lists of revenge films found on Internet Movie Database (IMDb) and narrowed them down by choosing films that were the most popular with both amateur and professional viewers, considering the Rotten Tomatoes average critic and audience ratings and the IMDb average user ratings. Scroll through to learn more.1 of 26
  • 25. quot;The Outlaw Josey Walesquot; (1976) bull; Genre: Western bull; Directed by: Clint Eastwood bull; Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George bull; Average critic rating: 7.95/10 bull; In this Civil War-era Western, Clint Eastwood recreates his taciturn loner character as Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer who seeks revenge by joining the pro-Confederate Missouri Bushwhackers after his wife and son are murdered by pro-Union Jayhawkers from Kansas.2 of 26
  • 24. quot;Hamletquot; (1996) bull; Genre: Drama bull; Directed by: Kenneth Branagh bull; Starring: Kenneth Branagh, Julie Christie, Derek Jacobi, Kate Winslet bull; Average critic rating: 8.14/10 bull; Shakespeares quintessential work about revenge has been brought to the big screen several times. The 1996 version, starred and was directed by Kenneth Branagh, was nominated for four Academy Awards.nbsp;3 of 26
  • 23. quot;A Bittersweet Lifequot; (2005) bull; Genre: Action, Drama bull; Directed by: Jee-woon Kim bull; Starring: Byung-Hun Lee, Min-a Shin, Yeong-cheol Kim, Jung-min Hwang bull; Average critic rating: 8.06/10 bull; A Korean film that pays homage to directors Brian De Palma and Martin Scorsese tells the story of a rising gangster in the Korean underworld tasked with watching the mistress of a crime boss with orders to kill her if she cheats on him. He discovers that she is unfaithful, but rather than kill her, he lets her go, and the crime chief goes after him and tortures him. The young gangster escapes and seeks his revenge.4 of 26
  • 22. quot;Boyz n the Hoodquot; (1991) bull; Genre: Crime, Drama bull; Directed by: John Singleton bull; Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Hudhail Al-Amir, Lloyd Avery II bull; Average critic rating: 8.41/10 bull; Director John Singletons culturally significant film compelled audiences to confront gun violence in minority neighborhoods. The movie is about the cycle of violence unleashed in a minority community after a high school athlete bound for USC on a football scholarship is gunned down and the toll that vengeance takes on African American youth. A cast of heavy hitters, including Ice Cube, Cuba Gooding Jr., Morris Chestnut, Laurence Fishburne, Nia Long, and Angela Bassett, turned this film into a hit. nbsp;5 of 26
  • 21. quot;The Revenantquot; (2015) bull; Genre: Action, Adventure, Biography bull; Directed by: Alejandro G. Intilde;aacute;rritu bull; Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson bull; Average critic rating: 7.86/10 bull; The spectacularly photographed film directed by Alejandro G. Intilde;aacute;rritu earned Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar. DiCaprio plays frontiersman Hugh Glass, a fur trader on an expedition in the American wilderness in the 1820s who is mauled by a bear and seeks revenge on those who left him for dead.6 of 26
  • 20. quot;Straw Dogsquot; (1971) bull; Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller bull; Directed by: Sam Peckinpah bull; Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan, T.P. McKenna bull; Average critic rating: 8.46/10 bull; quot;Straw Dogsquot; is director Sam Peckinpahs meditation on the human capacity for violence. The film centers around a mild-mannered mathematician played by Dustin Hoffman who is repelled by the chaos in America during the late 1960s and takes his wife to live in her hometown in England. But their presence antagonizes the men in the village, and the tension escalates from bullying to rape, pushing the mathematician into the violence he had rejected. nbsp;7 of 26
  • 19. quot;Inglourious Basterdsquot; (2009) bull; Genre: Adventure, Drama, War bull; Directed by: Quentin Tarantino bull; Starring: Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Eli Roth, Melanie Laurent bull; Average critic rating: 7.79/10 bull; What says revenge more than a Quentin Tarantino-helmed film that exacts retribution on Nazis. Brad Pitt plays an American lieutenant who puts together a team of Jewish soldiers who parachute behind German lines to attack, scalp, and kill Nazis. The films title was inspired by Italian director Enzo G. Castellaris 1978 movie quot;The Inglorious Bastards.quot;8 of 26
  • 18. quot;True Gritquot; (2010) bull; Genre: Adventure, Drama, Western bull; Directed by: Ethan Coen bull; Starring: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Hailee Steinfeld, Josh Brolin bull; Average critic rating: 8.33/10 bull; The 2010 film is a remake of the 1969 movie that starred an aging John Wayne. Directed by Ethan and Joe Coen, the remake features Jeff Bridges as liquored-up lawman Rooster Cogburn who is hired by a farm girl played by Hailee Steinfeld to find the man who killed her father. The film garnered 10 Oscar nominations.nbsp;9 of 26
  • 17. quot;The Virgin Springquot; (1960) bull; Genre: Drama bull; Directed by: Ingmar Bergman bull; Starring: Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitta Pettersson bull; Average critic rating: 7.89/10 bull; quot;The Virgin Spring,quot; directed by Swedens Ingmar Bergman, won the 1961 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Max von Sydow stars as a devout Christian who seeks revenge on the men who raped and murdered his daughter while she was on a journey to bring candles to a church.10 of 26
  • 16. quot;Gone Girlquot; (2014) bull; Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller bull; Directed by: David Fincher bull; Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry bull; Average critic rating: 8.00/10 bull; quot;Gone Girlquot; is a mystery drama starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as a couple whose marriage is succumbing to financial and infidelity pressures. Pikes character discovers her husbands infidelity, goes missing, and leaves clues suggesting her husband has killed her. But soon her revenge plot goes awry. nbsp;11 of 26
  • 15. quot;Se7enquot; (1995) bull; Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery bull; Directed by: David Fincher bull; Starring: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey, Andrew Kevin Walker bull; Average critic rating: 7.76/10 bull; The movie title quot;Se7enquot; is a reference to the seven deadly sins that a serial killer, played by Kevin Spacey, uses as the theme for his murderous spree. One of his victims is the wife of the detective who is pursuing him, played by Brad Pitt, and in a fit of revenge the detective shoots the killer. The taut and disturbing thriller directed by David Fincher was one of the most influential films of the 1990s.12 of 26
  • 14. quot;The Great Silencequot; (1968) bull; Genre: Western bull; Directed by: Sergio Corbucci bull; Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Klaus Kinski, Frank Wolff, Vonetta McGee bull; Average critic rating: 8.50/10 bull; quot;The Great Silencequot; is one of two films on the list that scored 100% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer. The 1968 movie, directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Corbucci, is a bleak take on the Western genre. The plot involves bounty killers led by a deranged man named Loco who pursue outlaws hiding in the snowbound mountains in the West. Loco kills the husband of a woman who hires a mute gunman named Silence to avenge her husbands death.nbsp;13 of 26
  • 13. quot;The Princess Bridequot; (1987) bull; Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy bull; Directed by: Rob Reiner bull; Starring: Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright, Chris Sarandon bull; Average critic rating: 8.34/10 bull; Directed by Rob Reiner, quot;The Princess Bridequot; is a fairy tale about a young woman (Robin Wright) reuniting with her true love (Cary Elwes). The revenge angle of the movie involves a character played by Mandy Patinkin who devotes his life to avenging the death of his father who was killed by a cruel aristocrat.14 of 26
  • 12. quot;Django Unchainedquot; (2012) bull; Genre: Drama, Western bull; Directed by: Quentin Tarantino bull; Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington bull; Average critic rating: 8.02/10 bull; Quentin Tarantino brings the brutality of slavery to the screen in the 2012 film quot;Django Unchained.quot; Jamie Foxx plays Django, who is bought by bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz in an Oscar-winning role for Best Actor) to help him track the brutal Brittle brothers. Djangos goal is to find the wife (Kerry Washington) he lost to the slave trade.nbsp;15 of 26
  • 11. quot;The Avengersquot; (2012) bull; Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi bull; Directed by: Joss Whedon bull; Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner bull; Average critic rating: 8.06/10 bull; quot;The Avengersquot; is the 2012 entry to the biggest grossing franchise of all time. Earths greatest heroes -- Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, and Black Widow -- must join up to try and stop supervillain Loki and his army from enslaving humanity. The movie has made more than $693 million in domestic box office gross, the second highest gross of any movie in the franchise.16 of 26
  • 10. quot;The Killerquot; (1989) bull; Genre: Action, Crime, Drama bull; Directed by: John Woo bull; Starring: Yun-Fat Chow, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh, Kong Chu bull; Average critic rating: 8.72/10 bull; Action-film director John Woo (quot;Broken Arrow,quot; quot;Mission: Impossible 2quot;) helmed this crime drama about a hit man who wants to get out of the criminal life and care for a lounge singer he accidentally blinded on a previous assignment. The assassins employers wont pay him for the prior job, money he wants to use to restore the eyesight of the lounge singer. nbsp;17 of 26
  • 9. quot;Mementoquot; (2000) bull; Genre: Mystery, Thriller bull; Directed by: Christopher Nolan bull; Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Mark Boone Junior bull; Average critic rating: 8.27/10 bull; Guy Pearce stars in this Christopher Nolan-directed thriller about a man tracking down the person who raped and murdered his wife. What complicates his quest is that he suffers from an untreatable form of memory loss.18 of 26
  • 8. quot;Mad Max: Fury Roadquot; (2015) bull; Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi bull; Directed by: George Miller bull; Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Zoe Kravitz bull; Average critic rating: 8.59/10 bull; The updated version of the dystopian sci-fi flick made famous by Mel Gibson in the 1970s won six Oscars and was nominated for four others. Tom Hardy is Max, who wants to find peace in the wake of the death of his wife and child. Charlize Tehron plays Furiosa, who believes her best chance to survive is to cross the desert and return to her homeland.nbsp;19 of 26
  • 7. quot;No Country for Old Menquot; (2007) bull; Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller bull; Directed by: Ethan Coen bull; Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson bull; Average critic rating: 8.73/10 bull; The blood flows freely in Ethan and Joel Coens tale of a hunter (Josh Brolin) who finds dead drug dealers and $2 million and decides to keep the money. Javier Bardem won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor as the nut-job killer who goes after the money and Brolin, leaving dead bodies along the way. The Coen brothers also won Oscars for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture.20 of 26
  • 6. quot;Unforgivenquot; (1992) bull; Genre: Drama, Western bull; Directed by: Clint Eastwood bull; Starring: Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris bull; Average critic rating: 8.81/10 bull; Clint Eastwood directed and starred in this Oscar-winning commentary about violence in America. In Wyoming in the 19th century, a prostitute is disfigured by cowboys, and her fellow brothel workers post a reward to avenge the attack. Eastwood, an aging outlaw who has become a farmer, agrees to take on this one last job.nbsp;21 of 26
  • 5. quot;Taxi Driverquot; (1976) bull; Genre: Crime, Drama bull; Directed by: Martin Scorsese bull; Starring: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd, Albert Brooks bull; Average critic rating: 9.05/10 bull; Martin Scorsese reached the top ranks of directors with this gritty look at the chaos and violence of New York City in the 1970s. Robert De Niro, the taxi driver, is repulsed by the decadence around him and resorts to violence to free teenage hooker Jodie Foster from a life of prostitution.22 of 26
  • 4. quot;The Shawshank Redemptionquot; (1994) bull; Genre: Drama bull; Directed by: Frank Darabont bull; Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Bob Gunton, William Sadler bull; Average critic rating: 8.21/10 bull; quot;The Shawshank Redemption,quot; nominated for seven Academy Awards, is the story of a prisoner wrongly jailed for two murders. He exacts his revenge on the warden who wont free him despite evidence that he did not commit the killings.nbsp;23 of 26
  • 3. quot;Once Upon a Time in the Westquot; (1968) bull; Genre: Western bull; Directed by: Sergio Leone bull; Starring: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards bull; Average critic rating: 9.01/10 bull; quot;Once Upon a Time in the Westquot; is considered one of the best Westerns of all time. The film was directed by Sergio Leone, famous for his quot;spaghetti Westernsquot; of the 1960s. The plot centers on a young woman (Claudia Cardinale) who moves to the Utah frontier from New Orleans and finds her entire family slain. She hires a gunman, played by Jason Robards, to find the killers, led by a psychopathic assassin (Henry Fonda).24 of 26
  • 2. quot;The Dark Knightquot; (2008) bull; Genre: Action, Crime, Drama bull; Directed by: Christopher Nolan bull; Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine bull; Average critic rating: 8.85/10 bull; The revenge angle in quot;The Dark Knight,quot; starring Christian Bale as Batman, centers around a crusading district attorney played by Aaron Eckhart. As the Joker sows chaos around Gotham City, the district attorneys face is disfigured by an explosion triggered by the archvillain. The blast also kills the woman he loves. The DA is bent on revenge and believes everything should be decided by chance, by flipping a coin to determine whether a person lives or dies.nbsp;25 of 26
  • 1. quot;The Godfatherquot; (1972) bull; Genre: Crime, Drama bull; Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola bull; Starring: Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Diane Keaton bull; Average critic rating: 9.27/10 bull; Marlon Brando won the Best Actor Oscar for playing Don Corleone in quot;The Godfather,quot; but the movie was as much Al Pacinos as it was Brandos. Thats because Pacino, who succeeds his father as the mob don, plots to wipe out the killers of his older brother, his first wife, and the gangsters who tried to kill his father. nbsp;26 of 26

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