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Academy Award

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Academy Award
85th Academy Awards
An Academy Award statuette, depicting a knight, rendered in Art Deco style, holding a crusader's sword
An Academy Award statuette.
Awarded for Excellence in cinematic achievements
Country United States
Presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
First awarded 1929
Official website

The Academy Awards, now officially known as The Oscars, are a set of awards given annually for excellence of cinematic achievements. The Oscar statuette is officially named the Academy Award of Merit and is one of nine types of Academy Awards. Organized and overseen by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are given each year at a formal ceremony. The AMPAS was originally conceived by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio executive Louis B. Mayer as a professional honorary organization to help improve the film industry’s image and help mediate labor disputes. The awards themselves were later initiated by the Academy as awards "of merit for distinctive achievement" in the industry.

The awards were first given in 1929 at a ceremony created for the awards, at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. Over the years that the award has been given, the categories presented have changed; currently Oscars are given in more than a dozen categories, and include films of various types. As one of the most prominent award ceremonies in the world, the Academy Awards ceremony 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), the Emmy Awards (for television), and the Tony Awards (for theatre), are modeled after the Academy Awards.

The 85th Academy Awards were held on Sunday, February 24, 2013, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California.


Gary Cooper and Joan Fontaine holding their Oscars at the Academy Awards, 1942

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; 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 since 1941 used a sealed envelope to reveal the name of the winners.

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, Jannings received the award for two movies in which he starred during that period. Since the fourth ceremony, the system changed, and professionals were honored for a specific performance in a single film. As of the 83rd Academy Awards ceremony held in 2011, a total of 2,809 Oscars have been given for 1,853 awards. A total of 302 actors have won Oscars in competitive acting categories or have 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.

Oscar statuette


Although there are eight other types of annual awards presented by the Academy (the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, the Gordon E. Sawyer Award, the Academy Scientific and Technical Award, the Academy Award for Technical Achievement, the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation, and the Student Academy Award) plus two awards that are not presented annually (the Special Achievement Award in the form of an Oscar statuette and the Honorary Award that may or may not be in the form of an Oscar statuette), 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.

In 1928, 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 future 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 origin of the name Oscar is disputed. 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. It may also have been named after the famous Irish playwright Oscar Wilde. In 1882, when disembarking in New York to begin his "Grand Tour" of America, Wilde was asked by a customs officer whether he had anything to declare and reputedly replied "I have nothing to declare but my genius."

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. In December 2011, Orson Welles' sole 1941 Oscar for Citizen Kane ( Best Original Screenplay) was put up for auction, after his heirs won a 2004 court decision that Welles did not sign any agreement to return the statue to the Academy.

While the Oscar is owned by the recipient, it is essentially not on the open market. Michael Todd's grandson tried to sell Todd's Oscar statuette to a movie prop collector in 1989, but the Academy won the legal battle by getting a permanent injunction. Although some 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 that, the results were announced in early February.


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), a professional honorary organization, maintains a voting membership of 5,783 as of 2012.

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.

In May 2011, the Academy sent a letter advising its 6,000 or so voting members that an online system for Oscar voting will be implemented in 2013.


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 2009 Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker, was actually first released in 2008, but did not qualify for the 2008 awards as it did not play its Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles until mid-2009, thus qualifying for the 2009 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 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 submit only 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.



31st Academy Awards Presentations, Pantages Theatre, Hollywood, 1959
81st Academy Awards Presentations, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, 2009

The major awards are presented at a live televised ceremony, most commonly in late February or early 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 60 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 pm Eastern/6:00 p.m Pacific, in 1999 the ceremonies were moved to Sundays at 8:30 pm Eastern/5:30 pm 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.

On March 30, 1981, the awards ceremony was postponed for one day after the shooting of President Ronald Reagan and others in Washington, D.C.

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.

Awards ceremonies

The following is a listing of all Academy Awards ceremonies.

Ceremony Date Best Picture winner Length of ceremony Number of viewers Rating Host(s) Venue
1st Academy Awards May 16, 1929 Wings 15 minutes Douglas Fairbanks, William C. deMille Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel
2nd Academy Awards April 3, 1930 The Broadway Melody 1 hour, 50 minutes William C. deMille Ambassador Hotel
3rd Academy Awards November 5, 1930 All Quiet on the Western Front 2 hours, 13 minutes Conrad Nagel
4th Academy Awards November 10, 1931 Cimarron 2 hours, 3 minutes Lawrence Grant Biltmore Hotel
5th Academy Awards November 18, 1932 Grand Hotel 1 hour, 52 minutes Lionel Barrymore, Conrad Nagel Ambassador Hotel
6th Academy Awards March 16, 1934 Cavalcade 1 hour, 50 minutes Will Rogers
7th Academy Awards February 27, 1935 It Happened One Night 1 hour, 45 minutes Irvin S. Cobb Biltmore Hotel
8th Academy Awards March 5, 1936 Mutiny on the Bounty 2 hours, 12 minutes Frank Capra
9th Academy Awards March 4, 1937 The Great Ziegfeld 2 hours, 56 minutes George Jessel
10th Academy Awards March 10, 1938 The Life of Emile Zola 1 hour, 56 minutes Bob Burns
11th Academy Awards February 23, 1939 You Can't Take It With You 2 hours, 6 minutes None
12th Academy Awards February 29, 1940 Gone with the Wind 3 hours, 52 minutes Bob Hope Ambassador Hotel (Cocoanut Grove)
13th Academy Awards February 27, 1941 Rebecca 2 hours, 10 minutes Biltmore Hotel (Biltmore Bowl)
14th Academy Awards February 26, 1942 How Green Was My Valley 1 hour, 48 minutes
15th Academy Awards March 4, 1943 Mrs. Miniver 2 hours, 14 minutes Ambassador Hotel (Cocoanut Grove)
16th Academy Awards March 2, 1944 Casablanca 1 hour, 42 minutes Jack Benny Grauman's Chinese Theatre
17th Academy Awards March 15, 1945 Going My Way 2 hours, 10 minutes Bob Hope, John Cromwell
18th Academy Awards March 7, 1946 The Lost Weekend 1 hour, 41 minutes Bob Hope, James Stewart
19th Academy Awards March 13, 1947 The Best Years of Our Lives 2 hours, 52 minutes Jack Benny Shrine Auditorium
20th Academy Awards March 20, 1948 Gentleman's Agreement 1 hour, 58 minutes Agnes Moorehead, Dick Powell
21st Academy Awards March 24, 1949 Hamlet 1 hour, 35 minutes Robert Montgomery The Academy Theatre
22nd Academy Awards March 23, 1950 All the King's Men 1 hour, 50 minutes Paul Douglas Pantages Theatre
23rd Academy Awards March 29, 1951 All About Eve 2 hours, 18 minutes Fred Astaire
24th Academy Awards March 20, 1952 An American in Paris 1 hour, 53 minutes Danny Kaye
25th Academy Awards March 19, 1953 The Greatest Show on Earth 1 hour, 32 minutes 40 million Bob Hope, Conrad Nagel Pantages Theatre /
NBC International Theatre
26th Academy Awards March 25, 1954 From Here to Eternity 1 hour, 58 minutes 43 million Donald O'Connor, Fredric March Pantages Theatre /
NBC Century Theatre
27th Academy Awards March 30, 1955 On the Waterfront 1 hour, 48 minutes Bob Hope, Thelma Ritter
28th Academy Awards March 21, 1956 Marty 1 hour, 30 minutes Jerry Lewis, Claudette Colbert, Joseph L. Mankiewicz
29th Academy Awards March 27, 1957 Around the World in 80 Days 3 hours, 8 minutes Jerry Lewis, Celeste Holm
30th Academy Awards March 26, 1958 The Bridge on the River Kwai 2 hours, 41 minutes Bob Hope, David Niven, James Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Rosalind Russell Pantages Theatre
31st Academy Awards April 6, 1959 Gigi 1 hour, 55 minutes Bob Hope, David Niven, Tony Randall, Mort Sahl, Sir Laurence Olivier, Jerry Lewis
32nd Academy Awards April 4, 1960 Ben-Hur 1 hour, 40 minutes Bob Hope
33rd Academy Awards April 17, 1961 The Apartment 2 hours, 5 minutes Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
34th Academy Awards April 9, 1962 West Side Story 2 hours, 10 minutes
35th Academy Awards April 8, 1963 Lawrence of Arabia 2 hours, 30 minutes Frank Sinatra
36th Academy Awards April 13, 1964 Tom Jones 2 hours, 8 minutes Jack Lemmon
37th Academy Awards April 5, 1965 My Fair Lady 2 hours, 50 minutes Bob Hope
38th Academy Awards April 18, 1966 The Sound of Music 2 hours, 54 minutes
39th Academy Awards April 10, 1967 A Man for All Seasons 2 hours, 31 minutes
40th Academy Awards April 10, 1968 In the Heat of the Night 1 hour, 50 minutes
41st Academy Awards April 14, 1969 Oliver! 2 hours, 33 minutes None Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
42nd Academy Awards April 7, 1970 Midnight Cowboy 2 hours, 25 minutes 43.40
43rd Academy Awards April 15, 1971 Patton 2 hours, 52 minutes
44th Academy Awards April 10, 1972 The French Connection 1 hour, 44 minutes Helen Hayes, Alan King, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jack Lemmon
45th Academy Awards March 27, 1973 The Godfather 2 hours, 38 minutes Carol Burnett, Michael Caine, Charlton Heston, Rock Hudson
46th Academy Awards April 2, 1974 The Sting 3 hours, 23 minutes John Huston, Burt Reynolds, David Niven, Diana Ross
47th Academy Awards April 8, 1975 The Godfather Part II 3 hours, 20 minutes Sammy Davis, Jr., Bob Hope, Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra
48th Academy Awards March 29, 1976 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest 3 hours, 12 minutes Goldie Hawn, Gene Kelly, Walter Matthau, George Segal, Robert Shaw
49th Academy Awards March 28, 1977 Rocky 3 hours, 38 minutes Warren Beatty, Ellen Burstyn, Jane Fonda, Richard Pryor
50th Academy Awards April 3, 1978 Annie Hall 3 hours, 30 minutes 39.73 million 31.10 Bob Hope
51st Academy Awards April 9, 1979 The Deer Hunter 3 hours, 25 minutes Johnny Carson
52nd Academy Awards April 14, 1980 Kramer vs. Kramer 3 hours, 12 minutes
53rd Academy Awards March 31, 1981 Ordinary People 3 hours, 13 minutes
54th Academy Awards March 29, 1982 Chariots of Fire 3 hours, 24 minutes
55th Academy Awards April 11, 1983 Gandhi 3 hours, 15 minutes Liza Minnelli, Dudley Moore, Richard Pryor, Walter Matthau
56th Academy Awards April 9, 1984 Terms of Endearment 3 hours, 42 minutes 38.00 Johnny Carson
57th Academy Awards March 25, 1985 Amadeus 3 hours, 10 minutes Jack Lemmon
58th Academy Awards March 24, 1986 Out of Africa 3 hours, 2 minutes 38.65 million 25.71 Alan Alda, Jane Fonda, Robin Williams
59th Academy Awards March 30, 1987 Platoon 3 hours, 19 minutes 39.72 million 25.94 Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Paul Hogan
60th Academy Awards April 11, 1988 The Last Emperor 3 hours, 33 minutes 42.04 million 27.80 Chevy Chase Shrine Auditorium
61st Academy Awards March 29, 1989 Rain Man 3 hours, 19 minutes 42.77 million 28.41 None
62nd Academy Awards March 26, 1990 Driving Miss Daisy 3 hours, 37 minutes 40.22 million 26.42 Billy Crystal Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
63rd Academy Awards March 25, 1991 Dances with Wolves 3 hours, 35 minutes 42.79 million 28.06 Shrine Auditorium
64th Academy Awards March 30, 1992 The Silence of the Lambs 3 hours, 33 minutes 44.44 million 29.84 Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
65th Academy Awards March 29, 1993 Unforgiven 3 hours, 30 minutes 45.84 million 32.85
66th Academy Awards March 21, 1994 Schindler's List 3 hours, 18 minutes 46.26 million 31.86 Whoopi Goldberg
67th Academy Awards March 27, 1995 Forrest Gump 3 hours, 35 minutes 48.87 million 33.47 David Letterman Shrine Auditorium
68th Academy Awards March 25, 1996 Braveheart 3 hours, 38 minutes 44.81 million 30.48 Whoopi Goldberg Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
69th Academy Awards March 24, 1997 The English Patient 3 hours, 34 minutes 40.83 million 25.83 Billy Crystal Shrine Auditorium
70th Academy Awards March 23, 1998 Titanic 3 hours, 47 minutes 57.25 million 35.32
71st Academy Awards March 21, 1999 Shakespeare in Love 4 hours, 2 minutes 45.63 million 28.51 Whoopi Goldberg Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
72nd Academy Awards March 26, 2000 American Beauty 4 hours, 4 minutes 46.53 million 29.64 Billy Crystal Shrine Auditorium
73rd Academy Awards March 25, 2001 Gladiator 3 hours, 23 minutes 42.93 million 25.86 Steve Martin
74th Academy Awards March 24, 2002 A Beautiful Mind 4 hours, 23 minutes 40.54 million 25.13 Whoopi Goldberg Dolby Theatre
75th Academy Awards March 23, 2003 Chicago 3 hours, 30 minutes 33.04 million 20.58 Steve Martin
76th Academy Awards February 29, 2004 The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King
3 hours, 44 minutes 43.56 million 26.68 Billy Crystal
77th Academy Awards February 27, 2005 Million Dollar Baby 3 hours, 14 minutes 42.16 million 25.29 Chris Rock
78th Academy Awards March 5, 2006 Crash 3 hours, 33 minutes 38.64 million 22.91 Jon Stewart
79th Academy Awards February 25, 2007 The Departed 3 hours, 51 minutes 39.92 million 23.65 Ellen DeGeneres
80th Academy Awards February 24, 2008 No Country for Old Men 3 hours, 21 minutes 31.76 million 18.66 Jon Stewart
81st Academy Awards February 22, 2009 Slumdog Millionaire 3 hours, 30 minutes 36.94 million 21.68 Hugh Jackman
82nd Academy Awards March 7, 2010 The Hurt Locker 3 hours, 37 minutes 41.62 million 24.75 Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin
83rd Academy Awards February 27, 2011 The King's Speech 3 hours, 15 minutes 37.63 million 21.97 James Franco, Anne Hathaway
84th Academy Awards February 26, 2012 The Artist 3 hours, 14 minutes 39.30 million 25.50 Billy Crystal
85th Academy Awards February 24, 2013 Argo 3 hours, 35 minutes 40.30 million 26.60 Seth MacFarlane
Ceremony Date Best Picture winner Length of ceremony Number of viewers Rating Host(s) Venue

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 independently financed film ( No Country for Old Men).


Pantages Theatre, 2008

In 1929, the first Academy Awards were presented at a banquet dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. From 1930–1943, the ceremony alternated between two venues: the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard and the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.

Grauman's Chinese Theatre 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 Theatre 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 Centre.

In 2002, the Kodak Theatre became the permanent home of the award ceremonies. However, due to Eastman Kodak's bankruptcy issues, this theatre was renamed the Hollywood and Highland Centre in the days preceding the February 26, 2012, awards ceremony. As of May 2012, the theatre was once again renamed – to the Dolby Theatre – after Dolby Laboratories acquired the naming rights.

Merit categories

Current categories

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role: since 1928
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role: since 1936
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role: since 1928
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role: since 1936
  • Best Animated Feature: since 2001
  • Best Animated Short Film: since 1931
  • Best Cinematography: since 1928
  • Best Costume Design: since 1948
  • Best Director: since 1928
  • Best Documentary Feature: since 1943
  • Best Documentary Short: since 1941
  • Best Film Editing: since 1935
  • Best Foreign Language Film: since 1947
  • Best Live Action Short Film: since 1931
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling: since 1981
  • Best Original Score: since 1934
  • Best Original Song: since 1934
  • Best Picture: since 1928
  • Best Production Design: since 1928
  • Best Sound Editing: since 1963
  • Best Sound Mixing: since 1930
  • Best Visual Effects: since 1939
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: since 1928
  • Best Original Screenplay: since 1940

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 (now Production Design), Cinematography, and Costume Design awards were likewise split into two separate categories (black-and-white films and colour films). Prior to 2012, the Production Design award was called Art Direction, while the Makeup and Hairstyling award was called Makeup.

Another award, entitled the Academy Award for Best Original Musical, is still in the Academy rulebooks and has yet to be discontinued. However, due to continuous insufficient eligibility each year, it has not been awarded since 1984 (when Purple Rain won).

Discontinued categories

  • Best Assistant Director: 1933 to 1937
  • Best Director, Comedy Picture: 1928 only
  • Best Dance Direction: 1935 to 1937
  • Best Engineering Effects: 1928 only
  • Best Original Musical or Comedy Score: 1995 to 1999
  • Best Original Story: 1928 to 1956
  • Best Score – Adaptation or Treatment: 1962 to 1969; 1973
  • Best Short Film – Colour: 1936 and 1937
  • Best Short Film – Live Action – 2 Reels: 1936 to 1956
  • Best Short Film – Novelty: 1932 to 1935
  • Best Title Writing: 1928 only
  • Best Unique and Artistic Quality of Production: 1928 only

Proposed categories

The Board of Governors meets each year and considers new award categories. To date, the following proposed categories have been rejected:

  • Best Casting: rejected in 1999
  • Best Stunt Coordination: rejected every year from 1991-2012
  • Best Title Design: rejected in 1999

Special categories

The Special Academy Awards are voted on by special committees, rather than by the Academy membership as a whole. They are not always presented on a consistent annual basis.

Current special categories

  • Academy Honorary Award: since 1929
  • Academy Scientific and Technical Award: since 1931
  • Gordon E. Sawyer Award: since 1981
  • Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: since 1956
  • Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award: since 1938

Discontinued special categories

  • 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 Writers' 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.

Tim Dirks, editor of AMC's, 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 1980s, 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.

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 honour" to recognize a distinguished nominee's entire body of work.

Associated events

The following events are closely associated with the annual Academy Awards ceremony:

  • Nominees luncheon
  • 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.
  • Golden Raspberry Awards
  • 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 AIDS Foundation Academy Award Party airs the awards live at the nearby Pacific Design Centre.
  • The Governors' Ball is the Academy's official after-party, including dinner (until 2011), and is held adjacent to the awards-presentation venue. In 2012, the three course meal was replaced by appetizers.
  • The Vanity Fair after-party, historically held at the former Morton's restaurant, since 2009 has been held at the Sunset Tower.
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