Movies and TV

The Academy Awards

a closeup of a gilded award statuette

Hosted each year by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the Academy Awards are one of the most prominent awards, locally and internationally. The Academy Awards are trophies given to celebrities in recognition for their artistic merits in the film and drama industry.

Several voting members from The Academy’s panel select the nominees to contest for the awards. The winners are then selected, and accolades presented to recognize the international achievement of filmmakers, actors, actresses, and other celebrities. The Academy Awards are also famously known as the ‘Oscars.’

The Academy Awards are vastly celebrated. The Oscar season is one of the most prominent award seasons in Hollywood that is anxiously waited for by celebrities and filmmakers alike.

a picture of the golden statuette awarded to winners

How It All Started

It was on May 16, 1929, that the first-ever Academy Awards took place at a private dinner in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel hosted by Douglas Fairbanks. The dinner was attended by around 270 guests who became the first audience to witness the Academy Awards. Only five trophies were presented, and the ceremony ended in a mere fifteen minutes. The names of the award-winning celebrities were announced three months earlier to the ceremony. However, since 1941, the winner’s names are kept in a sealed envelope until announced at the event.

a picture of the 1st Academy Award dinner

Initially, awards were presented to celebrities for collective performances during a qualifying period; for example, when Emil Jannings was awarded the first-ever Oscar, he received it for two movies he starred in during the period. It was with the fourth Academy Awards that the awarding system was altered, and actors/actresses were given trophies for performances in specific roles.

Officially called the ‘Academy Awards of Merit,’ the gold-plated statuette is presented to the winners of the various categories.

It has been a tradition followed at the Oscars that the previous years Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress present the awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, along with the previous year’s Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor presenting the awards for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

The Oscar Statuette

The winners of the various categories in the Academy Awards are presented with a gilded statuette. The statuette is made of gold-plated bronze. The statuette weighs approximately 8.5 lbs. and has a length of 13.5 inches. George Stanley is the man behind the sculpting of the beautiful Oscar statuette. The trophy shows a knight holding a sword standing in an upright position. It is known that during World War II, owing to metal scarcity; the Oscars statuette was crafted out of painted plaster for three years. The trophy is known to be designed by Cedric Gibbons.

Oscars was officially adopted as the other name for the Academy Awards in 1939. The origin of this name, however, is uncertain. Certain renowned names such as Bette Davis, who was a president of the Academy, and Margaret Herrick, the Academy’s executive secretary, have been mentioned as the originator of the name ‘Oscars.’

Oscar trophies on a table to be presented

The Academy statuettes awarded at the event have blank baseplates. This is to avoid the names of the winners leaking out before the ceremony. Later, during the Governor’s Ball, an after-party to the Oscars, winners are given the option of getting engraved nameplates for their Oscars. It has been made illegal to sell the Oscars’ golden knight trophy.

The Academy Awards Today

The Oscar Awards are one of Hollywood’s oldest award ceremonies. Inspired by the format of the Academy Awards, three other award ceremonies followed suit, which are the Tony Awards for Theatre, the Grammy awards for music, and the Emmy Awards for television.

The Academy Awards are broadcasted live internationally. The ceremony happens commonly in late February or early March, and this time is often referred to as the ‘Oscars season.’

The ceremony in 1993 saw the addition of an ‘In Memoriam’ segment, which was to remember the celebrities that have passed away in the preceding 12 months. A small committee of the Academy awards is responsible for making the selection to be screened. It has been revealed that the viewership, though still dominant, has gradually dropped. However, the Oscars are still the best-known awards internationally.

Over time a few celebrities rejected receiving their awards to criticize the Academy Awards. The first to set this trend was screenwriter Dudley Nicholas who boycotted the 8th Academy Award due to rifts between the Writers’ Guild and the Academy. However, he later accepted the trophy during the 1938 Academy Awards.

During the 89th Academy Awards, a certain incident gained quite a lot of fame. It was when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, instead of naming ‘Moonlight’ as the winner, mistakenly named ‘La La Land’ as the receiver of the Best Picture award.

a poster of the best picture at the 89th Oscars, ‘Moonlight.’

Criticisms Against the Oscars

The Academy Awards have been accused of swaying more towards publicity rather than focusing on the quality of the performances. There have been opinions formed that the awards have lacked diversity, have been massively commercialized, and are biased. They have been criticized for choosing only selective genre movies as nominations and informally calling such movies as ‘Oscar bait.’

a poster for the 90th Academy Awards

The Academy Awards also came under a lot of criticism for lacking diversity. Statistics showed that since 1991, only 11.2% of nominees were non-white. The 88th Academy Awards faced a boycott and social media campaign with the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Even after all the rumors and accusations, the Academy Awards to date stands the position of the most well-known and applauded awards on the international filming scenario.

Presenter Gifts

The Oscars ceremony has maintained a tradition of giving out gift bags to the presenter and the performers. The gift bags are known to have a very high value amounting to tens of thousands of dollars. In the 2014 Academy Awards, the value was said to be around US$80,000. The gift bags often contain expensive vacation packages, watches, bracelets, spa treatments, etc.

The Academy Awards are internationally renowned accolades. The award ceremony is known to be watched all over the globe. The accolades have earned the credibility to the point that if a celebrity scores a win at the Oscars, they are considered successful and have increased chances of making a better filming career in the future.

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