In the wake of ActionFest 2012 and with today marking the home video release of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, it's as good as any time to talk about stunts. Plus, master stunt coordinator Jack Gill is apparently meeting this week with Dawn Hudson, the new head of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, about adding a Best Stuntman category to the Oscars. That's a suggestion made yearly by movie fans and bloggers already, and Gill says that Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese have also literally signed off on the idea. I only wonder if Tom Cruise would get an inaugural nomination, both because he's a star and he performed his character's building climbing stunt in Ghost Protocol himself.
I think part of the difficulty of recognizing stuntmen is that few of us recognize stuntmen. We know those actors who do their own stunts, especially martial arts heroes, and we definitely know the stunts themselves, but it's rare that we're aware of the men and women who are strictly stunt performers and what specific sequences they've achieved. Not that this isn't the case with some other Oscar categories (who's your favorite sound editor, for instance?). Meanwhile, it's not always easy to distinguish great physical stuntwork in the era of computer effects. Not that the silent comedians didn't have camera trickery of their own -- see Harold Lloyd climbing a skyscraper 90 years before Cruise in Safety Last:
So we may not (yet) have favorite stuntmen, unless they're also film leads like Buster Keaton or the Buster Keaton-inspired Jackie Chan or, now, The Raid: Redemption's Iko Uwais. Or, on the female side, Tarantino regular Zoe Bell (see the documentary Double Dare for greater appreciation) or Haywire star Gina Carano. But we can easily pick our favorite stunts of all time, whether they're from Keaton's Steamboat Bill Jr. or Chan's Police Story or from something legitimately stunt-double-oriented like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Great Escape and those dangerous movies Fred Topel listed here yesterday.
Earlier today I asked my Twitter followers to name their favorite stunt sequences and I've embedded their picks below. If you want to know mine, it's the same as my wife's, who chimes in at the end. Please tell us about your own choice(s) in the comments.
Dar Robinson jumping off the CN Tower in High Point. - @nixskits2
Dar Robinson's fall from balcony while firing gun in 1985's Stick - @TVMCCA
Jackie Chan's jump at the end of Police Story, all one shot and no stunt double. Absolutely insane. - @silentaffairs
I have a soft spot for the car crash/flip that appears in practically every Troma movie ever made - @JayCheel
Buster Keaton, Steamboat Bill Jr. Wall of house falls; he's standing in the window. Apparently he didn't even rehearse stunt! - @jbdcampbell