- Academy Award
An Academy Award statuette
Awarded for Excellence in cinematic achievements Presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Country United States First awarded May 16, 1929 Official website www.Oscars.org
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers. The formal ceremony at which the awards are presented is one of the most prominent award ceremonies in the world, and is televised live in more than 100 countries annually. It is also the oldest award ceremony in the media; its equivalents, the Grammy Awards (for music), Emmy Awards (for television), and Tony Awards (for theatre) are modeled after the Academy.
The AMPAS was originally conceived by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio boss Louis B. Mayer as a professional honorary organization to help improve the film industry’s image and help mediate labor disputes. The Oscar itself was later initiated by the Academy as an award "of merit for distinctive achievement" in the industry.
The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929, at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to honor outstanding film achievements of the 1927/1928 film season. The most recent ceremony, honoring films in 2010, was held at Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on February 27, 2011.
- 1 History
- 2 Oscar statuette
- 3 Nomination
- 4 Ceremony
- 5 Venues
- 6 Academy Awards of merit
- 7 Special Academy Awards
- 8 Criticism
- 9 Associated events
- 10 See also
- 11 Notes
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The first awards were presented on May 16, 1929, at a private brunch at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The post Academy Awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel. The cost of guest tickets for that night's ceremony was $5. Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists, directors and other personalities of the filmmaking industry of the time for their works during the 1927–1928 period.
Winners had been announced three months earlier of their triumphs; however that was changed in the second ceremony of the Academy Awards in 1930. Since then and during the first decade, the results were given to newspapers for publication at 11 pm on the night of the awards. This method was used until the Los Angeles Times announced the winners before the ceremony began; as a result, the Academy has used a sealed envelope to reveal the name of the winners since 1941.
For the first six ceremonies, the eligibility period spanned two calendar years. For example, the 2nd Academy Awards presented on April 3, 1930, recognized films that were released between August 1, 1928 and July 31, 1929. Starting with the 7th Academy Awards, held in 1935, the period of eligibility became the full previous calendar year from January 1 to December 31.
The first Best Actor awarded was Emil Jannings, for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. He had to return to Europe before the ceremony, so the Academy agreed to give him the prize earlier; this made him the first Academy Award winner in history. The honored professionals were awarded for all the work done in a certain category for the qualifying period; for example, Emil Jannings received the award for two movies in which he starred during that period. Since the fourth ceremony, the system changed, and the professionals were honored for a specific performance in a single film. As of the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony held in 2010[update], a total of 2,789 Oscars have been given for 1,825 awards. A total of 302 actors have won Oscars in competitive acting categories or been awarded Honorary or Juvenile Awards.
The 1939 film Beau Geste is the only movie that features as many as four Academy Award winners for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Susan Hayward, Broderick Crawford) prior to any of the actors receiving the Best Actor Award.
At the 29th ceremony, held on March 27, 1957, the Best Foreign Language Film category was introduced. Until then, foreign language films were honored with the Special Achievement Award.
Although there are seven other types of awards presented by the Academy (the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, the Scientific and Engineering Award, the Technical Achievement Award, the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, and the Student Academy Award), the best known one is the Academy Award of Merit more popularly known as the Oscar statuette. Made of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base, it is 13.5 in (34 cm) tall, weighs 8.5 lb (3.85 kg) and depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes. The five spokes each represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.
MGM's art director Cedric Gibbons, one of the original Academy members, supervised the design of the award trophy by printing the design on a scroll. In need of a model for his statuette Gibbons was introduced by his then wife Dolores del Río to Mexican film director and actor Emilio "El Indio" Fernández. Reluctant at first, Fernández was finally convinced to pose nude to create what today is known as the "Oscar". Then, sculptor George Stanley (who also did the Muse Fountain at the Hollywood Bowl) sculpted Gibbons's design in clay and Sachin Smith cast the statuette in 92.5 percent tin and 7.5 percent copper and then gold-plated it. The only addition to the Oscar since it was created is a minor streamlining of the base. The original Oscar mold was cast in 1928 at the C.W. Shumway & Sons Foundry in Batavia, Illinois, which also contributed to casting the molds for the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Emmy Awards statuettes. Since 1983, approximately 50 Oscars are made each year in Chicago by Illinois manufacturer R.S. Owens & Company.
In support of the American effort in World War II, the statuettes were made of plaster and were traded in for gold ones after the war had ended.
The root of the name Oscar is contested. One biography of Bette Davis claims that she named the Oscar after her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson; one of the earliest mentions in print of the term Oscar dates back to a Time magazine article about the 1934 6th Academy Awards. Walt Disney is also quoted as thanking the Academy for his Oscar as early as 1932. Another claimed origin is that the Academy's Executive Secretary, Margaret Herrick, first saw the award in 1931 and made reference to the statuette's reminding her of her "Uncle Oscar" (a nickname for her cousin Oscar Pierce). Columnist Sidney Skolsky was present during Herrick's naming and seized the name in his byline, "Employees have affectionately dubbed their famous statuette 'Oscar'". The trophy was officially dubbed the "Oscar" in 1939 by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Another legend reports that the Norwegian-American Eleanor Lilleberg, executive secretary to Louis B. Mayer, saw the first statuette and exclaimed, "It looks like King Oscar II!". At the end of the day she asked, "What should we do with Oscar, put him in the vault?" and the name stuck.
Ownership of Oscar statuettes
Since 1950, the statuettes have been legally encumbered by the requirement that neither winners nor their heirs may sell the statuettes without first offering to sell them back to the Academy for US$1. If a winner refuses to agree to this stipulation, then the Academy keeps the statuette. Academy Awards not protected by this agreement have been sold in public auctions and private deals for six-figure sums.
While the Oscar is under the ownership of the recipient, it is essentially not on the open market. The case of Michael Todd's grandson trying to sell Todd's Oscar statuette illustrates that there are some who do not agree with this idea. When Todd's grandson attempted to sell Todd's Oscar statuette to a movie prop collector, the Academy won the legal battle by getting a permanent injunction. Although Oscar sales transactions have been successful, some buyers have subsequently returned the statuettes to the Academy, which keeps them in its treasury.
Since 2004, Academy Award nomination results have been announced to the public in late January. Prior to 2004, nomination results were announced publicly in early February.
Academy membership is divided into different branches, with each representing a different discipline in film production. Actors constitute the largest voting bloc, numbering 1,311 members (22 percent) of the Academy's composition. Votes have been certified by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (and its predecessor Price Waterhouse) for the past 73 annual awards ceremonies.
All AMPAS members must be invited to join by the Board of Governors, on behalf of Academy Branch Executive Committees. Membership eligibility may be achieved by a competitive nomination or a member may submit a name based on other significant contribution to the field of motion pictures.
New membership proposals are considered annually. The Academy does not publicly disclose its membership, although as recently as 2007 press releases have announced the names of those who have been invited to join. The 2007 release also stated that it has just under 6,000 voting members. While the membership had been growing, stricter policies have kept its size steady since then.
Currently, according to Rules 2 and 3 of the official Academy Awards Rules, a film must open in the previous calendar year, from midnight at the start of January 1 to midnight at the end of December 31, in Los Angeles County, California, to qualify (except for the Best Foreign Language Film). For example, the 2010 Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, was actually first released in 2008, but did not qualify for the 2009 awards as it did not play its Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles until mid-2009, thus qualifying for the 2010 awards.
Rule 2 states that a film must be feature-length, defined as a minimum of 40 minutes, except for short subject awards, and it must exist either on a 35 mm or 70 mm film print or in 24 frame/s or 48 frame/s progressive scan digital cinema format with native resolution not less than 1280x720.
Producers must submit an Official Screen Credits online form before the deadline; in case it is not submitted by the defined deadline, the film will be ineligible for Academy Awards in any year. The form includes the production credits for all related categories. Then, each form is checked and put in a Reminder List of Eligible Releases.
In late December ballots and copies of the Reminder List of Eligible Releases are mailed to around 6000 active members. For most categories, members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees only in their respective categories (i.e. only directors vote for directors, writers for writers, actors for actors, etc.); there are some exceptions though in the case of certain categories, like Foreign Film, Documentary and Animated Feature Film in which movies are selected by special screening committees made up of members from all branches. In the special case of Best Picture, all voting members are eligible to select the nominees for that category. Foreign films must include English subtitles, and each country can only submit one film per year.
The members of the various branches nominate those in their respective fields while all members may submit nominees for Best Picture. The winners are then determined by a second round of voting in which all members are then allowed to vote in most categories, including Best Picture.
The major awards are presented at a live televised ceremony, most commonly in February or March following the relevant calendar year, and six weeks after the announcement of the nominees. It is the culmination of the film awards season, which usually begins during November or December of the previous year. This is an elaborate extravaganza, with the invited guests walking up the red carpet in the creations of the most prominent fashion designers of the day. Black tie dress is the most common outfit for men, although fashion may dictate not wearing a bow-tie, and musical performers sometimes do not adhere to this. (The artists who recorded the nominees for Best Original Song quite often perform those songs live at the awards ceremony, and the fact that they are performing is often used to promote the television broadcast).
The Academy Awards is televised live across the United States (excluding Hawaii; they aired live for the first time in Alaska in 2011), Canada, the United Kingdom, and gathers millions of viewers elsewhere throughout the world. The 2007 ceremony was watched by more than 40 million Americans. Other awards ceremonies (such as the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Grammys) are broadcast live in the East Coast but are on tape delay in the West Coast and might not air on the same day outside North America (if the awards are even televised). The Academy has for several years claimed that the award show has up to a billion viewers internationally, but this has so far not been confirmed by any independent sources. The Awards show was first televised on NBC in 1953. NBC continued to broadcast the event until 1960 when the ABC Network took over, televising the festivities through 1970, after which NBC resumed the broadcasts. ABC once again took over broadcast duties in 1976; it is under contract to do so through the year 2020.
After more than sixty years of being held in late March or early April, the ceremonies were moved up to late February or early March starting in 2004 to help disrupt and shorten the intense lobbying and ad campaigns associated with Oscar season in the film industry. Another reason was because of the growing TV ratings success of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, which would cut into the Academy Awards audience. The earlier date is also to the advantage of ABC, as it now usually occurs during the highly profitable and important February sweeps period. (Some years, the ceremony is moved into early March in deference to the Winter Olympics.) Advertising is somewhat restricted, however, as traditionally no movie studios or competitors of official Academy Award sponsors may advertise during the telecast. The Awards show holds the distinction of having won the most Emmys in history, with 47 wins and 195 nominations.
After many years of being held on Mondays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern/6:00 p.m Pacific, in 1999 the ceremonies were moved to Sundays at 8:30 p.m. Eastern/5:30 p.m. Pacific. The reasons given for the move were that more viewers would tune in on Sundays, that Los Angeles rush-hour traffic jams could be avoided, and that an earlier start time would allow viewers on the East Coast to go to bed earlier. For many years the film industry had opposed a Sunday broadcast because it would cut into the weekend box office.
In 1993, an In Memoriam segment was introduced, honoring those who had made a significant contribution to cinema who had died in the preceding 12 months, a selection compiled by a small committee of Academy members. This segment has drawn criticism over the years for the omission of some names.
In 2010, the organizers of the Academy Awards announced that winners' acceptance speeches must not run past 45 seconds. This, according to organizer Bill Mechanic, was to ensure the elimination of what he termed "the single most hated thing on the show" – overly long and embarrassing displays of emotion.
The Academy has also had recent discussions about moving the ceremony even further back into January, citing TV viewers' fatigue with the film industry's long awards season. But such an accelerated schedule would dramatically decrease the voting period for its members, to the point where some voters would only have time to view the contending films streamed on their computers (as opposed to traditionally receiving the films and ballots in the mail). Also, a January ceremony may have to compete with National Football League playoff games.
Past ceremonies and ratings
Historically, the "Oscarcast" has pulled in a bigger haul when box-office hits are favored to win the Best Picture trophy. More than 57.25 million viewers tuned to the telecast for the 70th Academy Awards in 1998, the year of Titanic, which generated close to US$600 million at the North American box office pre-Oscars. The 76th Academy Awards ceremony in which The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (pre-telecast box office earnings of US$368 million) received 11 Awards including Best Picture drew 43.56 million viewers. The most watched ceremony based on Nielsen ratings to date, however, was the 42nd Academy Awards (Best Picture Midnight Cowboy) which drew a 43.4% household rating on April 7, 1970.
By contrast, ceremonies honoring films that have not performed well at the box office tend to show weaker ratings. The 78th Academy Awards which awarded low-budgeted, independent film Crash (with a pre-Oscar gross of US$53.4 million) generated an audience of 38.64 million with a household rating of 22.91%. In 2008, the 80th Academy Awards telecast was watched by 31.76 million viewers on average with an 18.66% household rating, the lowest rated and least watched ceremony to date, in spite of celebrating 80 years of the Academy Awards. The Best Picture winner of that particular ceremony was another low-budget, independently financed film (No Country for Old Men).
In 1929, the first Academy Awards were presented at a banquet dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. From 1930–1943, the awards were presented first at the Ambassador Hotel in Hollywood. Then the Oscar ceremonies were held at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles from 1930 to 1943.
Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood then hosted the awards from 1944 to 1946, followed by the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles from 1947 to 1948. The 21st Academy Awards in 1949 were held at the Academy Award Theater at what was the Academy's headquarters on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.
From 1950 to 1960, the awards were presented at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre. With the advent of television, the 1953–1957 awards took place simultaneously in Hollywood and New York first at the NBC International Theatre (1953) and then at the NBC Century Theatre (1954–1957), after which the ceremony took place solely in Los Angeles. The Oscars moved to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica, California in 1961. By 1969, the Academy decided to move the ceremonies back to Los Angeles, this time to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Los Angeles County Music Center.
In 2002, Hollywood's Kodak Theatre became the permanent home of the award ceremonies.
Academy Awards of merit
- Best Actor in a Leading Role: 1928 to present
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role: 1936 to present
- Best Actress in a Leading Role: 1928 to present
- Best Actress in a Supporting Role: 1936 to present
- Best Animated Film: 2001 to present
- Best Animated Short Film: 1931 to present
- Best Art Direction: 1928 to present
- Best Cinematography: 1928 to present
- Best Costume Design: 1948 to present
- Best Director: 1928 to present
- Best Documentary Feature: 1943 to present
- Best Documentary Short: 1941 to present
- Best Film Editing: 1935 to present
- Best Foreign Language Film: 1947 to present
- Best Live Action Short Film: 1931 to present
- Best Makeup: 1981 to present
- Best Original Score: 1934 to present
- Best Original Song: 1934 to present
- Best Picture: 1928 to present
- Best Sound Editing: 1963 to present
- Best Sound Mixing: 1930 to present
- Best Visual Effects: 1939 to present
- Best Adapted Screenplay: 1928 to present
- Best Original Screenplay: 1940 to present
In the first year of the awards, the Best Director award was split into two separate categories (Drama and Comedy). At times, the Best Original Score award has also been split into separate categories (Drama and Comedy/Musical). From the 1930s through the 1960s, the Art Direction, Cinematography, and Costume Design awards were likewise split into two separate categories (black-and-white films and color films).
Another award, entitled the Academy Award for Best Original Musical, is still in the Academy rulebooks and has yet to be retired. However, due to continuous insufficient eligibility each year, it has not been awarded since 1984 (when Purple Rain won).
The Board of Governors meets each year and considers new awards. To date, the following proposed awards have not been approved:
- Best Casting: rejected in 1999
- Best Stunt Coordination: rejected in 1999; rejected in 2005
- Best Title Design: rejected in 1999
Special Academy Awards
These awards are voted on by special committees, rather than by the Academy membership as a whole, but the individual selected to receive the special award may decline the offer. They are not always presented on a consistent annual basis.
Current special awards
- Academy Honorary Award: 1929 to present
- Academy Scientific and Technical Award: 1931 to present
- Gordon E. Sawyer Award: 1981 to present
- Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: 1956 to present
- Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award: 1938 to present
Retired special awards
- Academy Juvenile Award: 1934 to 1960
- Academy Special Achievement Award: 1972 to 1995
Due to the positive exposure and prestige of the Academy Awards, studios spend millions of dollars and hire publicists specifically to promote their films during what is typically called the "Oscar season." This has generated accusations of the Academy Awards being influenced more by marketing than quality. William Friedkin, an Academy Award-winning film director and former producer of the ceremony, expressed this sentiment at a conference in New York in 2009, describing it as "the greatest promotion scheme that any industry ever devised for itself."
In addition, some winners critical of the Academy Awards have boycotted the ceremonies and refused to accept their Oscars. The first to do so was Dudley Nichols (Best Writing in 1935 for The Informer). Nichols boycotted the 8th Academy Awards ceremony because of conflicts between the Academy and the Writer's Guild. George C. Scott became the second person to refuse his award (Best Actor in 1970 for Patton) at the 43rd Academy Awards ceremony. Scott described it as a 'meat parade', saying 'I don't want any part of it." The third winner, Marlon Brando, refused his award (Best Actor in 1972 for The Godfather), citing the film industry's discrimination and mistreatment of Native Americans. At the 45th Academy Awards ceremony, Brando sent Sacheen Littlefeather to read a 15-page speech detailing his criticisms.
It has been observed that several of the Academy Award winners – particularly Best Picture – have not stood the test of time or defeated worthier efforts. Tim Dirks, editor of AMC's filmsite.org, has written of the Academy Awards,Unfortunately, the critical worth, artistic vision, cultural influence, and innovative qualities of many films are not given the same voting weight. Especially since the 80s, moneymaking "formula-made" blockbusters with glossy production values have often been crowd-pleasing titans (and Best Picture winners), but they haven't necessarily been great films with depth or critical acclaim by any measure.
Best Picture is not the only category to come under criticism. In his review of The Lives of Others, Nick Davis argued,Generally speaking, if you drop the adjective "Best" and replace it with "Most," you come to a better understanding of what the Academy Awards are often about. "Most Editing" would be an apt label for the kinds of movies that win trophies for being so obviously "edited," particularly through action scenes or across multiple plot-strands, that even audiences who rarely think about film editing sit up and take notice. "Most Sound" and "Most Sound Effects" would explain the lingering fascination with explosions and submarine pings rather than subtler work connected to mood or character, and "Most Visual Effects" is even more self-explanatory. "Most Original Score" works if we parse "Most" not onto "Original" but onto "Score," since the compositions possessed of the greatest uniqueness and creativity rarely win or even get nominated, but movies crammed with music often do, even when the winning composer wrote almost none of it (see: Babel). Actors are often rewarded for doing the Most Acting, especially in the Supporting divisions, since "Most" connotes both the fussiness of one's thesping (just ask Renée Zellweger and Tim Robbins) and the awful-lotta screen time that nominees like Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman tend to have over truly "supporting" actors.
Acting prizes in certain years have been criticized for not recognizing superior performances so much as being awarded for sentimental reasons, personal popularity, atonement for past mistakes, or presented as a "career honor" to recognize a distinguished nominee's entire body of work.
The following events are closely associated with the annual Academy Awards ceremony:
- Governors Awards
- The 25th Independent Spirit Awards (in 2010), usually held in Santa Monica the Saturday before the Oscars, marked the first time it was moved to a Friday and a change of venue to L.A. Live, the newly built entertainment complex developed in Downtown Los Angeles.
- The 8th annual "Night Before", traditionally held at the Beverly Hills Hotel (eight years running in 2010) and generally known as THE party of the season, benefits the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which operates a retirement home for SAG actors in the San Fernando Valley.
- Elton John's AIDS fundraiser viewing party airs the awards live at the nearby Pacific Design Center.
- The Governors' Ball is the Academy's official after-party, including dinner, and is held adjacent to the awards-presentation venue.
- The Vanity Fair after-party, historically held at the former Morton's restaurant, is now for the 2nd year at the Sunset Towers.
- Academy Awards pre-show
- César Award (French equivalent)
- Elton John AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party
- Golden Raspberry Award
- List of Academy Award records
- List of Academy Award-winning films
- List of Academy Awards ceremonies
- List of Academy Award trophies on public display
- List of actors who have appeared in multiple Best Picture Academy Award winners
- List of Asian Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of Australian Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of Big Five Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of Black Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of British and Commonwealth Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of English Academy Award nominees and winners
- List of fictitious Academy Award nominees
- List of foreign language films nominated for Academy Awards
- List of French Academy Award winners and nominees
- Lists of Hispanic Academy Award winners and nominees by country
- List of Italian Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of Latin American Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of oldest and youngest Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of people who have won multiple Academy Awards in a single year
- List of Polish Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of posthumous Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of presenters of Best Picture Academy Award
- List of Scandinavian Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of superlative Academy Award winners and nominees
- List of years in film
- Oscar season
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Media and images from Commons Look up in Wiktionary
- Oscars.org—official Academy site
- Oscar.com—official Academy Award ceremony site
- Academy Awards at the Open Directory Project
- "Oscar Greats" at Time magazine
- Academy Award at the Internet Movie Database
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