Why no Oscar category for title design?

Went to see Spider-Man last night, and during the title sequence, it got me to wondering why there is no Oscar category for title design? Think back over the years to some of the amazing accomplishments in titles: Saul Bass’ entire career, Maurice Binder’s famous James Bond titles, Dan Perri’s titles for “Star Wars,” and many others. David Fincher’s movies have incredible title sequences: “Panic Room,” “Fight Club,” and “Se7en” all boast innovative work.

Given that there are awards for Art Direction, Costume Design and Makeup, why is there no award for titles? Should there be?

I believe the operative phrase here is “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

I think it’s just a little too specialized for an award. With the exception of Original Song, which is a holdover from the days when musicals were more prevalent, all the awards are given for something which is used throughout the film.

Adding an award to the Oscars is a big deal (the show is way too long already). But this one might be coming. The Emmy Awards added an “Outstanding Main Title Design” category in 2000.

Gotta agree with BobT on this one – sure, title sequences can be great, but what do they add to a film? For every one great one you can name that actually helped set the mood*, there are a dozen great ones that mean absolutely nothing and don’t do a thing for the film except show off how cool the title sequence is.

  • – And frankly, if after I get intrigued by the teasers, cheer at the trailers, see hours of commercials, read the reviews, pay six bucks and settle into my seat, a film needs to set any kind of mood for me, then it’s just not going to work at that point, thanks.

One of the film festivals, many years ago, ran a section on opening credits for about an hour or longer… including such wonderful stuff as Saul Bass’s titles for Hitchcock, Wossname Jarre, etc. Included titles from WEST SIDE STORY (graffitti names spray painted on fences and walls), among others.

Recently, the titles for CONSPIRACY THEORY (with Mel Gibson) were fantastic, reflections of neon signs in the window of his cab… Pacific Title seems to do a great job, although they don’t often credit individuals.

There was a long period of time, however, when the titles were very blah.

Is there a technical Oscar category for it?

No. The “Technical awards” you hear about are actually mostly awards given out for technical INNOVATION, not specified categories.

House on Haunted Hill had great creepy opening credits too.

I’m ambivalent about this being an Oscar category. Certain, a good set of titles can set the mood for a story. However, many good films dispense with opening titles altogether, and still manage to keep people from leaving the theatre.

That said, I still remember being blown away by the opening titles for Superman - The Movie. I remember thinking, “Lord have mercy, that by itself was worth the price of admission.”

I especially loved the pre-title sequence with the old-style theatre curtains opening up, the words “June - 1938” appearing on a title card, then the shot of ACTION COMICS #1 and a little girl’s voiceover reading the opening narration. Absolutely brilliant, tying in the long history of Superman with the modern era.

Then the five-minute long (at least, it seemed that way) titles, with John Williams sweeping score. How can you go wrong?

I’d be leery of making an Oscar category for this, simply because the last thing I want to see is movie after movie incorporating a needless, elaborate title sequence in an attempt to win the award. Some movies do better with quick, simple title sequences. Imagine if, say, the title sequences for Scream or Jurassic Park dragged on for minutes, rather than getting right to the action. If an award were on the line, every movie’s opening credits would look like the beginning of a James Bond movie. Even a Golden Globe would probably be too much encouragement.

That being said, I loves me a good title sequence. From the simple-yet-effective Alien credits to the huge elaborate song-and-dance of Austin Powers, I dig 'em. They really do set the mood.

Outside of the incredibly rare exception (Judi Dench), nobody wins an Oscar for a mere 5-10 minutes of work outside of the Song category (as BobT mentioned). Why should they start now, no matter how well-done they are? An Oscar is prized partially because it’s given to a small handful of disciplines. It’s a rare thing to receive one. Do casting directors get Oscars? Stunt coordinators? There’s certainly a much stronger arguement to be made for these than for the title guys, even a genius like Saul Bass (although interestingly enough, Bass did win an Oscar–for Documentary Short)