Oscar Award History

The Academy Awards Oscar presentation for excellence in the film industry has a long and rich history.

In 1927, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)was formed by 36 of the film industry's most prominent individuals, choosing film actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. as its first president. In 1929, AMPAS presented the first Academy Award. This award was for recognition of excellence in the motion picture industry. This award has remained the ultimate industry standard of recognition.

Voting members of AMPAS represent fourteen branches of the film industry to determine who receives the coveted awards. The Oscar voting process begins in November of each year. Movie studios, publicists and film distributors begin their attempts to coax the voting members of AMPAS to view their film offerings. These attempts are regulated in the interest of fairness. The following January, the Academy Awards ballots are distributed to voting members, who have one month to make their nominations and return these nominations to the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers, formerly Price Waterhouse, a professional service used to tabulate the votes. PricewaterhouseCoopers guarantees the security of the balloting. Only two people employed by PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results of award balloting before the ceremonies.

The nominations for the award are made by members of the craft categories for each of the rewards. In the Best Picture category, however, all voting members are allowed to submit nominations. In February, PricewaterhouseCoopers announces the result of the nominations. Voting members then receive ballots to cast their votes to select winners in each category. They are then returned to the tabulating service. Although many of the fourteen Oscar categories have been broadened or changed since 1927, the awards still fall within the main branches of the Academy. This includes actors, producers, directors, writers and technicians. Even the names of some of the awards have changed. For example, the Best Picture award was known as the Best Production award prior to 1933. In that year, two Best Picture awards were given. One, to "Wings" for the Best Production and another to "Sunrise" for the Best Unique and Artistic Picture. After that year's awards the latter category was dropped. Until 1939, the award was called the "Academy Award of Merit" and was not a statuette but a plaque. The first Oscar statuette was awarded to actor Emil Jannings, who was named Best Actor for his role in "The Last Command" and "The Way of All Things".

How the awards statuette came to be known as "Oscar" is not known but it is generally accepted that Katherine Herrion, a future Academy Executive Director, remarked upon seeing the statue that it reminded her of her uncle Oscar and began referring to it by that name. Academy staff followed her lead and the name Oscar has been used ever since. The Oscar itself is a statuette, made by the R.S. Owens Company of Chicago. It is approximately 13.5 inches high and weighs 8.5 pounds. It is made from a copper, silver and nickel alloy and covered with 25-Carat gold. During World War II, the statues were made of plaster. Recipients turned in these plaster statues after the war for golden Oscars. In the 1930's juvenile recipients of the award were given miniature versions and there is one instance where a wooden Oscar was awarded to ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Walt Disney received seven miniature Oscar statuettes for the film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the first all-animated feature film. The statue was designed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer art director Cedric Gibbon and sculptor George Stanley. The Oscar depicts a knight holding a sword, standing atop a reel of film. The film reel has five spokes, representing the five original branches of AMPAS. 1949 marked the first year that the Oscar statuettes were numbered, beginning with number 501. In a surprising turn of events, 55 Oscars vanished before the awards program in March, 2000. Later 52 of the statues were found in a Los Angeles dumpster.

The first awards presentations were actually large banquet-type dinners. Anyone who wished to attend could simply purchase a ticket. These affairs were first held in the larger hotels such as the Ambassador and the Biltmore in Los Angeles. As public interest and crowds increased, the affairs were moved to larger theaters, where the ever-growing crowds could be accommodated. While awards programs are now watched by millions on television, the first awards were broadcast live through radio. The first televised ceremonies took place in 1953, at the 25th annual presentation. The Academy Awards have been held annually without fail except on three occasions. In 1938, Los Angeles floods delayed the event for one week. Thirty years later, in 1968, the program was delayed two days so as not to coincide with the funeral of Martin Luther King. The last postponement to date was in 1981 when the attempted assassination of US President Ronald Reagan took place, when the awards were delayed for 24 hours.

The suspense that is now an accepted part of the Oscar ceremony did not always exist. The results of the Oscar poll was released to the press in advance of the awards ceremony and could be found in the late edition newspapers on the night of the awards. The tradition of revealing the results on camera at the awards was not adopted until 1941. As well as the suspense involving the winners, the Oscar awards programs have had their share of unexpected excitement. In 1973, a nude streaker ran across the stage of the televised proceedings. In 1972, in a surprise move, winner Marlon Brando sent an actress who identified herself as Sacheen Littlefeather to

read a political statement and refuse his award.

The awards also broke some barriers. Actress Hattie Mcdaniel received the first Oscar awarded to a Black actor in any category for her supporting role in Gone with the Wind, amovie which received a record-breaking 13 nominations and 8 wins.

The Academy Awards continues to evoke the same excitement and intensity that it had at the beginning. Below is a list of the winners in the five main categories of Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress which covers the past twenty years.

2000-73rd Awards

Best Picture-"Gladiator"

Best Actor-Russell Crowe in, "Gladiator"

Best Actress-Julia Roberts, "Erin Brokovich"

Best Supporting Actor-Benicio Del Toro, "Traffic"

Best Supporting Actress-Marcia Gay Harden, "Pollock"

1999-72nd Awards

Best Picture-"American Beauty"

Best Actor-Kevin Spacey, "American Beauty"

Best Actress-Hilary Swank, "Boys Don't Cry"

Best Supporting Actor-Michael Caine, "The Cider House Rules"

Best Supporting Actress-Angelina Jolie, "Girl, Interrupted"

1998-71st Awards

Best Picture-"Shakespeare in Love"

Best Actor-Roberto Benigni, "Life is Beautiful"

Best Actress-Gwyneth Paltrow, "Shakespeare in Love"

Best Supporting Actor-James Coburn, "Affliction"

Best Supporting Actress-Judi Dench, "Shakespeare in Love"

1997-70th Awards

Best Picture-"Titanic"

Best Actor-Jack Nicholson, "As Good as It Gets"

Best Actress-Helen Hunt, "As Good as It Gets"

Best Supporting Actor-Robin Williams, "Good Will Hunting"

Best Supporting Actress-Kim Basinger, "L.A> Confidential"

1996-69th Awards

Best Picture-"The English Patient"

Best Actor-Geoffrey Rush, "Shine"

Best Actress-Frances McDormand, "Fargo"

Best Supporting Actor-Cuba Gooding, Jr., "Jerry Maguire"

Best Supporting Actress-Juliette Binoche, "The English Patient"

1995-68th Awards

Best Picture-"Braveheart"

Best Actor-Nicholas Cage, "Leaving Las Vegas"

Best Actress-Susan Sarandon, "Dead Man Walking"

Best Supporting Actor-Kevin Spacey, "The Usual Suspects"

Best Supporting Actress-Mira Sorvino, "Mighty Aphrodite"

1994-67th Awards

Best Picture-"Forrest Gump"

Best Actor-Tom Hanks, "Forrest Gump"

Best Actress-Jessica Lange, "Blue Sky"

Best Supporting Actor-Martin Landau, "Ed Wood"

Best Supporting Actress-Dianne Wiest, "Bullets over Broadway"

1993-66th Awards

Best Picture-"Schindler's List"

Best Actor-Tom Hanks, "Philadelphia"

Best Actress-Holly Hunter, "The Piano"

Best Supporting Actor-Tommy Lee Jones, "The Fugitive"

Best Supporting Actress-Anna Paquin, "The Piano"

1992-65th Awards

Best Picture-"Unforgiven"

Best Actor-Al Pacino, "Scent of a Woman"

Best Actress-Emma Thompson, "Howards End"

Best Supporting Actor-Gene Hackman, "Unforgiven"

Best Supporting Actress-Marisa Tomei, "My Cousin Vinny"

1991-64th Awards

Best Picture-"The Silence of the Lambs"

Best Actor-Anthony Hopkins, "The Silence of the Lambs"

Best Actress-Jodie Foster, "The Silence of the Lambs"

Best Supporting Actor-Jack Palance, "City Slickers"

Best Supporting Actress-Mercedes Ruehl, "The Fisher King"

1990-63rd Awards

Best Picture-"Dances with Wolves"

Best Actor-Jeremy Irons, "Reversal of Fortune"

Best Actress-Kathy Bates, "Misery"

Best Supporting Actor-Joe Pasci, "Good Fellas"

Best Supporting Actress-Whoopi Goldberg, "Ghost"

1989-62nd Awards

Best Picture-"Driving Miss Daisy"

Best Actor-Daniel-Day Lewis, "My Left Foot"

Best Actress-Jessica Tandy, "Driving Miss Daisy"

Best Supporting Actor-Denzel Washington, "Glory"

Best Supporting Actress-Brenda Fricker, "My Left Foot"

1988-61st Awards

Best Picture-"Rain Man"

Best Actor-Dustin Hoffman, "Rain Man"

Best Actress-Jodie Foster, "The Accused"

Best Supporting Actor-Kevin Kline, "A Fish Called Wanda"

Best Supporting Actress-Geena Davis, "The Accidental Tourist"

1987-60th Awards

Best Picture-"The Last Emperor"

Best Actor-Michael Douglas, "Wall Street"

Best Actress-Cher, "Moonstruck"

Best Supporting Actor-SeanConnery, "The Untouchables"

Best Supporting Actress-Olympia Dukakis, "Moonstruck"

1986-59th Awards

Best Picture-"Platoon"

Best Actor-Paul Newman, "The Color of Money"

Best Actress-Marlee Matlin, "Children of a Lesser God"

Best Supporting Actor-Michael Caine, "Hannah and Her Sisters"

Best Supporting Actress-Dianne Wiest, "Hannah and Her Sisters"

1985-58th Awards

Best Picture-"Out of Africa"

Best Actor-William Hurt, "Kiss of the Spider Woman"

Best Actress-Geraldine Page, "A Trip to Bountiful"

Best Supporting Actor-Don Ameche, "Cocoon"

Best Supporting Actress-Anjelica Huston, "Prizzi's Honor"

1984-57th Awards

Best Picture-"Amadeus"

Best Actor-F. Murray Abraham, "Amadeus"

Best Actress-Sally Field, "Places in the Heart"

Best Supporting Actor-Haing S. Ngor, "The Killing Fields"

Best Supporting Actress-Peggy Ashcroft, "A Passage to India"

1983-56th Awards

Best Picture-"Terms of Endearment"

Best Actor-Robert Duvall, "Tender Mercies"

Best Actress-Shirley MacLaine, "Terms of Endearment"

Best Supporting Actor-Jack Nicholson, "Terms of Endearment"

Best Supporting Actress-Linda Hunt, "The Year of Living Dangerously"

1982-55th Awards

Best Picture-"Gandhi"

Best Actor-Ben Kingsley, 'Gandhi"

Best Actress-Meryl Streep, "Sophie's Choice"

Best Supporting Actor-Louis Gossett, Jr., "An Officer and a Gentleman"

Best Supporting Actress-Jessica Lange, "Tootsie"

1981-54th Awards

Best Picture-"Chariots of Fire"

Best Actor-Henry Fonda, "On Golden Pond"

Best Actress-Katherine Hepburn, "On Golden Pond"

Best Supporting Actor-John Gielgud, "Arthur"

Best Supporting Actress-Maureen Stapleton, "Reds"

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