The Oscar, also known as the Academy Award, is an annual award given to many different people in the film industry including actors, actresses, directors, producers, screenwriters, and many others. These awards are given by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is a conglomeration of professionals who judge films based on different criteria. Each year, the Oscars are aired live on television across the globe. They are considered to be one of the most important and highly praised awards one can receive in the entertainment industry.

The Academy

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was first formed in 1927 by a man named Louis B. Mayer, also known as the founder of the famous production company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. His idea was to comprise a group that would help to lift up the reputation of filmmakers and actors, while also assisting with any union labor disputes that could arise.

Today, the Academy has over 6,000 members, comprising of everyone from makeup artists and boom microphone holders, to directors and famous actors and actresses. The main goal of the group is to help promote and advance motion pictures as art in society. Membership is by invitation only and there are fifteen separate branches, all representing a different aspect of the film industry. Together, they take a look at each year’s film releases and determine which are the loftiest of the group. The Academy determines who will be the next official Oscar award winner.

Who is Oscar?

The Oscar is one of the most highly recognized awards statues in the world. The heavy-weight sculpture is made of black metal and plated with gold. He stands thirteen and a half inches tall and weighs over eight pounds. The statue holds a sword and stands on a film reel with five different spokes, each depicting a different part of the film industry. These five aspects include actors, directors, writers, technicians, and producers. When the award was being created in 1928, MGM’s art director selected actor Emilio Fernandez as the model for Oscar. Fernandez agreed to pose nude for the sculpture after a bit of convincing.

There are several differing stories about how Oscar was named. Actress Bette Davis claimed that it was named after her first husband. Another story claims that the Academy’s secretary at the time said it reminded her of her uncle Oscar, while another says Louis Mayer’s secretary exclaimed that the statue resembled King Oscar III. A rule was adopted in 1950 that winners could not sell or give away their Oscar award. Winners must agree not to do so unless they offer to sell it back to the Academy for $1 first. If they do not agree, they may not be allowed to own or keep the statue. Returned statues are stored in the treasury belonging to the Academy.

History of the Ceremony

Today, the Oscar Awards ceremony occurs live on national television, usually in the months of either February or March. The very first Academy Awards ceremony, however, took place in May of 1929. It was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. At that time, there was no television broadcast of the awards.

There have been eighty four Academy Awards ceremonies, and the eighty-fifth will be broadcast in February of 2013. Over the years, there have been many changes to the Oscars. One such change is the addition of In Memoriam, where notable members of the film industry that have passed away during the previous year are honored.

For several years, the broadcast took place on Mondays, but in 1999, the air time moved to Sunday evening. There have been several categories awarded for the Oscars over the years. Some retired categories include best assistant director, best dance director, and best title writing, to name a few. Current categories consist of best lead and supporting actor or actress, best film, best director, best foreign language film, and best visual effects, among many others.


In order for a film or other category to be nominated for an Oscar, the film must be released within the previous calendar year (January 1 to December 31) and be a minimum of forty minutes long. The only exception to the length rule are for short film awards. There are also very specific rules for the type of film and the resolution of the film in order for it to be nominated. The producer of the film must submit their official credits via an online form by a certain deadline. After doing so, the film is included on a list of eligible potential nominees. In late December, the active members of the Academy review the list and a vote is held for the nominees. All foreign films must also include subtitles in English and each country is only allowed to submit one potential film for nomination per year. There are two rounds of voting and in the second round, all members of the Academy can put in their final vote.

awards nominations

Notable Winners

Winning an Oscar is a very high honor. Walt Disney currently holds the title for most Oscar nominations at fifty-nine nods. He has also won twenty-two statues, the most by any man. Katherine Hepburn has won the most Oscars in an acting category, with four statues. The Lord of the Rings series holds the honor of both the most wins and the most nominations for a series with thirty nods and seventeen wins. Other notable films include Ben-Hur and Titanic, tied with Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for eleven Academy Awards won, the most for a single film. Sheila Nevins is a film producer and documentary filmmaker who works for HBO; she holds the title of winning the most Oscars by a female. Kathryn Bigalow was the first female to win the Best Director category.