How movies are nominated

Feb 252004
Authors: Christopher Ortiz

The Academy Awards are more than just a gold statue. Behind the

gold man are more than 6,000 members, 110 nominated films and 24

different categories. But even though that golden Oscar idol is

widely recognized and revered, many people still don’t know the

process that goes into deciding who will actually receive one.

The winners of this year’s Oscars, which are the awards handed

out by The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, will be

announced this Sunday night at the 76th Annual Academy Awards.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences was founded in

1927 in California and has members, over 6,000, representing 14

branches, which include actors, art directors, cinematographers,

directors and executives and more.

Becoming a member is a little rougher than getting into your

local country club. The Academy is a professional honorary

organization comprised mainly of people in the above fields. To

become a member, a person must be sponsored by at least two current

Academy members, according to

The members of the Academy then make nominations for the Academy

Awards within their specific branch. For instance, cinematographers

nominate films for Best cinematography; actors nominate their peers

for Best Actors and so on.

For a film to be eligible for consideration, it must have a

first-run theatrical engagement during the calendar year.

After the nominees are announced, the entire Academy body votes

to decide who will say, “I would like to thank the Academy,” Sunday


It is the coveted award in the movie business but no one is

quite sure why or how the golden guy got its name. A popular story

has been that Academy librarian and eventual executive director,

Margaret Herrick, said that it resembled her Uncle Oscar, according

to A reporter allegedly overheard her and helped brand

the golden guy. In any case, by the sixth Awards Presentation in

1934, Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky used the name in his

column in reference to Katharine Hepburn’s first Best Actress win.

The Academy itself didn’t use the nickname officially until


This year’s award ceremony is being held earlier than in year’s

prior. Before, the ceremony was held three weeks later in March but

academy directors made the call to move up the event in an effort

to shorten the Oscar race, which officially started after

nominations where announced in January.

Their reasoning to shorten the Oscar race was to level the

playing field between big-budget studio films, “LOTR: Return of the

King,” “Seabiscuit,” and smaller independent films, “Lost in

Translation” and “In America.” Smaller films cannot compete with

the multi-million dollar Oscar campaigns that bigger films have to

sway Academy members’ votes.

Academy Award Facts:

If “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” takes the

“precious” award of Best Picture, it would be the first time

fantasy film won (despite being nominated in 1977 for Best Picure,

“Star Wars” lost to “Annie Hall”).

Walt Disney is the all-time winner with 26 Academy Awards to his

name, including three Special Awards and the Irving G. Thalberg

Memorial Award.

The shortest Oscar ceremony in history was the first Oscars, in

1929. The awards portion of the evening lasted only about 15

minutes (shorter than some speeches take these days), since all the

winners had been announced three months earlier.

The longest awards in history was the 2001 awards which lasted

approximately 256 minutes, beating the previous record by about 16


Youngest performer to receive an Academy Award:

Shirley Temple is the youngest performer to receive an Academy

Award: 1934, Special Award; she was 6 years old.

Groucho Marx is the oldest man to win an Oscar: 1973, Honorary

Award; 83 years old.

“Midnight Cowboy” won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1979. It was

rated X.

According to Robert Osborne’s “75 Years of the Oscar: The

Official History of the Academy Awards.”

Oscar Facts:

Oscar’s height: 13 1/2 inches

Oscar’s weight: 8 1/2 pounds

Number of Oscars presented at Academy Awards shows or to winners

absent from show to date: 2,455

How many people it takes to make a statuette: 12

How long it takes to make a statuette: 20 hours

Oscar was designed by MGM’s art director, Cedric Gibbons, in

1928. The design has remained unchanged, except for getting a

higher pedistal in the 1940’s.

Oscars are made of britanium and gold-plated.

Approximately 50 Oscars are made each year in Chicago by the

manufacturer, R.S. Owens. If they don’t meet strict quality control

standards, the statuettes are immediately cut in half and melted


On March 10, 2000, 55 Academy Awards mysteriously vanished en

route from the Windy City to the City of Angels. Nine days later,

52 of the stolen statuettes were discovered next to a Dumpster in

the Koreatown section of Los Angeles.

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