The Academy Awards or Oscars, as it is commonly known as, honor the contributions made by professionals in the film industry in the United States like directors, actors and writers. The Academy awards is one of the oldest, most prestigious and most awaited film award ceremonies the world over.
Instituted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy Awards were held for the first time on May 16, 1929 at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. The first award ceremony recognized the achievements of the professionals in the industry for the years 1927 and 1928.
Academy Awards were telecast live for the first time by NBC in 1953.
Oscar statuette, measuring 34 cm in length and weighing 3.85 kg, is made of gold-plated britannium and shows a knight holding a sword and standing on a film reel with five spokes. The five spokes represent the Academy's original branches -- Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.
The Academy has around 6,000 voting members, of which actors constitute the largest group. These voting members represent 15 disciplines in motion pictures. The members can nominate only in their respective disciplines though they can submit nominees for the Best Picture.
In the second round, all the members have to cast their vote in all categories. The nominee getting the most votes is declared the winner. The voting process is tabulated by PricewaterhouseCoopers, an auditing firm.
The Oscars is considered the most awaited award ceremony the world over, with the audience of millions of people worldwide. Generally held in February or March, the award ceremony is broadcast live throughout the US, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
The who's who of the Hollywood turn up in their designer outfits especially designed for the occasion. NBC broadcast the award ceremony from 1953 to 1960 after which ABC Network televised the ceremony through 1970. NBC again took over from ABC and continued telecast of the ceremony till 1975. In 1976, ABC got the broadcast rights for the awards till the year 2014.
Earlier, the award ceremony was held in late March or early April but from 2004 onwards it is held in late February or early March to prevent lobbying for the Oscars.
Venues of the Academy Awards have been constantly changed from Hollywood to Los Angeles. The venue of the first Academy Award on May 16, 1929 was Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. The venue which has hosted the maximum number of consecutive Academy award ceremonies is the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Los Angeles Music Center for 19 years till 1988, when the ceremonies were held alternately at the Music Center or the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Shrine Auditorium had earlier hosted the award ceremonies from 1947 to 1948.
The Academy made the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood the permanent venue of the award ceremonies in the year 2002. The Theatre, spread over 640,000 square feet, includes retail, restaurants, nightclubs, other establishments and a six-screen cinema. Interestingly, columns at the Kodak Theatre have posters of every movie that has won the Best Picture award since its inception in 1929.
Some critics feel that nominations and awards in the Academy awards are influenced by intense lobbying by studios which make all possible efforts to woo the jury for their films as a result many quality films which do not have adequate backing fail to make it even to the nominations.
Some critics also feel that non-English films are neglected in the Best Picture category, with all 81 Best Picture award recipients made in English language. Only eight out of the 463 movies nominated for the Best Picture category were not in English and many classic movies like The Seven Samurai and Tokyo Story could not even make it to the nominations.
In Production, awards are given for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay while in Acting, awards are given to Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role and Best Actor and Actress in a supporting role. Awards are also given for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup.
In Music, awards are given for Best Original Song and Best Original Score. Then there are awards for animation and documentary like Best Animated Feature, Best Animated Short Film, Best Documentary Feature and Best Documentary Short Subject. There are also awards for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Live Action Short Film.
There are some special awards too which, unlike general categories, are voted on by special committees formed for the purpose. These awards include Academy Honorary Award, Academy Special Achievement Award, Academy Scientific and Technical Award, The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and Gordon E Sawyer Award.