The Academy Awards in Brief
More commonly known as the Oscars, the Academy Awards are the most well-known and glamorous of all movie industry honors. On the evening of the awards ceremony, winners receive the infamous gold-plated brittanium 'Oscar' statuette. By the mid-'90s, the Oscars boasted viewership in more than 100 countries. In 2012, the show boasted 39.3 million viewers in North America. In 2013, the Academy officially named the awards ceremony The Oscars (although it had already been dubbed this for years), in an attempt to re-brand the show for a more contemporary audience.
Date: February or March
Oscar: The BeginningsThe first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929. It was far from the glitzy global event is these days. The inaugural Oscars took place in a private room at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel; only 250 attendees participated.
As fascination with the movie industry itself grew, so did interest in the ceremony, which mushroomed. In Oscar's second year, the Academy broadcast the awards ceremony on the radio.
In the '50s, the Oscars were televised in the US and Canada. And, in 1969, the awards ceremony was televised all over the world.
The Oscar Statuette
The glittering, gold symbol of Academy glory (the infamous statuette) was informally named 'Oscar' by Academy librarian, Margaret Herrick, who was apparently overheard by a journalist comparing the gold figure to her Uncle Oscar.
The Academy Awards: How It Works
The Oscars consist of approximately 25 categories, each of which holds up to five nominations. Members of the Academy associated with a particular category are allowed to vote for nominees in that category. So, film editors vote for Achievement in Film Editing, for example. All members can vote for Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film of the Year.
Members of the Academy--artists and craftsmen in film--vote via secret ballot. Those ballots are then tabulated by global auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC. The results are preciously guarded until the big night, which is televised internationally.
Top 3 Moments in Oscars History
The Naked Gatecrasher
Before 1974, no one had heard of Robert Opal. That year, the 33-year-old sex shop proprietor got his '15 minutes' of 'raw' fame. After counterfeiting a press pass and bypassing security, he gained backstage access to the Academy Awards. And, when debonair actor/presenter David Niven came on to introduce the legendary Elizabeth Taylor at the live taping, Opal ran across the stage naked, flashing a peace sign. After being caught by security, he was swept away backstage to meet the press, resulting in a brief brush with fame (he later hit the talk show circuit).
Sacheen Littlefeather Speech
In March, 1973, acting legend Marlon Brando won an Oscar for Best Actor for his iconic role in The Godfather. As viewers and attendees awaited his monolithic appearance on stage, they were surprised to find, instead, a Native American Indian rights activist, Sacheen Littlefeather appearing in full native garb. Brando turned down the Academy Award but used his Oscar moment to shed light on the plight of the Native American Indian. Part of the speech (it was never read in its entirety) reads:
For 200 years we have said to the Indian people who are fighting for their land, their life, their families and their right to be free: 'Lay down your arms, my friends, and then we will remain together. Only if you lay down your arms, my friends, can we then talk of peace and come to an agreement which will be good for you.' When they laid down their arms, we murdered them. We lied to them. We cheated them out of their lands."
Michael Moore Controversy
Michael Moore has never been one to shy away from a little contention and controversy (or a lot). And so, the 75th Academy Awards ceremony (2003) it seems, was the perfect outlet for his feelings about the Iraq War.
The documentary auteur had won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for his film Bowling for Columbine. When he hit the podium, instead of the usual Oscars tearful gushing, he instead made a heated political. He was also joined on stage by fellow Best Documentary Feature nominees showing their solidarity for the cause. He said: "We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man who's sending us to war for fictitious reasons." To sustained boos and hisses he concluded: "Shame on you, Mr Bush. Shame on you."
Oscar: The Drama Continues
Of course, with 85 years behind it (as of 2013), the Academy Awards has had many an intense moment--from Sally Field's melodramatic "You like me, you really like me!" acceptance speech to Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed in Dicator costume, throwing 'urn ashes' all over Ryan Seacrest at red carpet arrivals for 2012's Oscars. And, we're sure there will be many more to come, so stay tuned...