The History Of The Oscars

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The Oscar, which was originally names The Academy Awards is a formal awards ceremony to honour the best achievements in filmmaking from the previous year. All of the nominating and voting that take place process prior to the ceremony itself, are supervised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. With over 6,000 members, the academy is a professional honorary society of people involved in all aspects of making movies – making them experts in the industry.

The first Academy Awards were distributed in 1929 at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. It doesn’t need to be mentioned that film has changed dramatically since then, and so have the categories for awards. In recent years there has been up to 24 awards categories presented at the ceremony, with more Oscars handed out for other lesser achievements before the formal ceremony. The top categories include; Best Actor/Actress in a Leading Role, Best Picture, Best Director, Best Costume Design, Best Music and Best Animated Feature Film etc.

One of the more prestigious award ceremonies in the world, the ceremony is televised to over 100 countries. Those who love films tune in to see how their favourite movies and performers fare – we are supporting the Brits! Those who love fashion watch to see what the celebrities are wearing — which is often the latest in runway couture with vastly expensive jewellery.

A film must open in the previous calendar year in Los Angeles County to qualify for the next year’s Academy Awards ceremony (the one exception to this is Best Foreign Language Film). In late December, all Academy members receive ballots to select nominees for the next ceremony. It works slightly differently to some award ceremonies in the UK as for most categories, members vote only for their peers (for example, actors vote for nominees for Best Actor etc.). However, there are some exceptions to this rule; Foreign Film, Documentary, and Animated Feature Film categories, all of which allow a special committees (formed of members across the Academy) vote for the winner, although it is important to state that all members can vote for nominees for the coveted Best Picture award.

The winners for each category are determined by a second voting round, which is opened up to all members of the Academy for most categories. Here is some fun Oscar facts:

  • Walt Disney has won more Academy Awards than any other person for his films – with 26 Oscars, 22 for his films and 4 honorary awards he runs ahead with the title!
  • Meryl Streep is arguably one of the greatest actresses in the UK, and to prove this title she has been nominated for more Academy Awards than any other actor/actress ever! With a mammoth 17 nominations and she’s won 3 times.
  • The youngest person to win an Oscar was just 10 years old! Tatum O’Neal won her award for the role in Paper Moon (1973).
  • Did you know that the oldest person to win an acting award was Christopher Plummer and he was 82! He won for his role in the film Beginners (2010). 

The Rebranding

Last year’s 85th Annual Academy Awards saw a rebranded of the name to simply The Oscars, but how did they get this name?  The popular theory is that the nickname for the Academy Award of Merit—as the statuette is actually named—was coined by Academy Award librarian and future Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margaret Herrick. According to the story, when she first saw the statue in 1931 she suggested that it looked like her Uncle Oscar.

The idea for the design of the Academy Award statuette was thought up by MGM director Cedric Gibbons, he chose to have a knight gripping a sword while standing upon on a film reel. Once the design was decided they hired sculptor George Stanley to craft the actual statuette based on this design idea.

The Statute

Currently, the Academy Award statuettes are made of gold-plated britannium, it’s almost made up complete of tin, standing 13½ inches tall and weighs in at a robust 8½ pounds. The film reel structures five spokes, suggesting the five original branches are the: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers of Hollywood. Although the statuette remains true to its original design, the size of the base has varied up until mi 20th century, when the current standard was adopted and hasn’t been changed since – if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. Back in the early days the statuettes presented at the initial ceremonies were gold-plated solid bronze, however, bronze quickly became abandoned in favour of Britannia metal, which is then plated in copper, nickel silver, and lastly, 24-karat gold – a long process! Though due to a metal shortage during World War II, the Oscar trophies were made of painted plaster for three years. After the war, the Academy invited recipients to exchange the plaster figures for gold-plated ones. What does the future hold? Maybe glass awards will be the next big hit, depending if and when we run out of britannium! Get ready for February 22, 2015, as all the stars will be ready to celebrate the 87th Academy Awards, it is being held at the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Centre.

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