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The Oscars are a red carpeted event held in Hollywood each year, usually in March, to award the best films, screenplays, actors, actresses, directors and producers in films. The formal name of the award ceremony is The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Awards. The ceremony is televised live to an estimated one million worldwide viewers with the added interest of the fashions of the stars - usually assessed by the media as they walk up the red carpet.
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How Oscars Got The Name Oscar
Oscars are not an acronym for any phrase and no-one knows exactly why the statues are named Oscars. There are several myths and legends surrounding the naming of the statue. This includes being named after the first husband of Bette Davis who was bandleader Harmon Oscar Nelson.
Another origin of the name comes from the Executive Secretary and Librarian of the Academy in 1931, Margaret Herrick, who said that the statue reminded her of her Uncle Oscar. Present during this was a reporter called Sidney Skolsky who wrote about this in his column and used the name Oscar in his byline.
Each Oscar statue is 34 cm (13.5 inches) high, weighs 3.85kg (8.5lbs). The official name for the Oscar statuette is the Academy Award of Merit. It is made from 24 carat gold-plated britannium with a black marble base and shows a knight which holds a crusader's sword. The figure stands on a reel of film which has five spokes. These spokes signify the original branches of the Academy which were Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers and Technicians.
The design of the Oscar statuettes involved three people. These were Cedric Gibbons the MGM art director, who designed the award trophy. The sculptor who created the model in clay was George Stanley. The final person to work on the original statue was Alex Smith who cast the statue in tin and copper before gold-plating it. The composition was 92.5 percent tin and 7.5 percent copper. The design stays the same today with the exception of an improvement to the base of the Oscar award. An exemption to this was during World War two when the Oscar statues were made from plaster to support the need for metals during the war effort. Recipients of these awards were able to swap them for the gold statues after the war.
You should never find any of the recent Oscar statues on Ebay or for sale anywhere else because since 1950 it has been unlawful for the winners, or their family and heirs, to sell the award statues - unless they first offer to sell them back to the Academy for a nominal $1. Those Oscars won before the 1950 ruling are not bound by these legal constraints and have been known to fetch six figure sums at auctions or in private sales. For example the pop star Michael Jackson is rumoured to have paid $1.54 million in 1999 for the Oscar of the producer of Gone With The Wind, David O Selznick.
The First Oscar Film Ceremony
The first Oscar ceremony was held on 16 May 1929 at the banqueting suite of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
The winner of the first Oscar films award was the movie Wings which was Directed by William A. Wellman and starred Clara Bow, Richard Arlen, Charles 'Buddy' Rogers, Gary Cooper, El Brendel, Jobyna Ralston and Richard Tucker. It was the story of two World War One pilots who love the same woman. Though talking films were made at the time, this was a silent film and won Best Picture for its aircraft and dogfight scenes.
The first colour film to win an Oscar was Gone With The Wind and the last black and white film to win was Schindler's List in 1994.
There was only about 250 people in the audience of this first Oscars awards ceremony, each having paid $10. These days the audience numbers are over 3300 and are personally invited to the awards.
The first time the Oscar awards were shown on television was in 1953 by the NBC network. They continued to broadcast the ceremony until 1960. From 1961 to 1971 it was broadcast by the ABC Network until being taken over by NBC again in 1976 who have the contract until 2008.
Early award winners knew beforehand that they had won and news would even appear in newspaper reports prior to the ceremony. Nowadays the winners are kept secret in a sealed envelope and announced live at the ceremony.
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Frank Capra made an error during the 1934 Oscars when he thought he heard he had won the Best Picture Oscar and went to the stage. The award was meant for Frank Lloyd for his film Cavalcade. It is not surprising he thought he'd won because the Oscar host, Will Rogers, opened the envelope for Best Director and said: "Well, well, well. What do you know. I've watched this young man for a long time. Saw him come up from the bottom, and I mean the bottom. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Come on up and get it, Frank!" Frank Capra was so embarrassed that he vowed never to attend another Oscar ceremony. Fortunately for him he did attend the following year and won for his 1935 film It Happened One Night. He swallowed his pride even more by becoming President of the Academy and also winning two more Oscars for the films Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) and You Can't Take It With You (1938).
Who Has Won The Most Oscars
Walt Disney has won the most Oscars - 26 awards and 64 nominations. Katherine Hepburn was the most nominated actress, until Meryl Streep received her 13th nomination in 2003.
Three films share the title for receiving the most nominations. These are Ben Hur, Titanic and The last Lord Of The Rings Trilogy film - The Return Of The King. Each received 11 awards.
Postponed Oscar Ceremonies
The awards have never been cancelled and never missed a year, even during the Second World War. Though they have been postponed three times.
The first was in 1938 when it was rescheduled for a week later because of the Los Angeles floods.
As a mark of respect when Martin Luther King was assassinated on the 4 April 1968 it was postponed for two days.
The third time was in 1981 after an assassination attempt on American president Ronald Reagan.
Not even a streaker running naked past an unfazed David Niven halted the 1974 Oscars ceremony!
There was a worry that the 2008 Oscars would be cancelled because of a 14 week strike by the Writers' Guild of America. This affected many programmes like Desperate Housewives. Fortunately 92.5% of the members voted to lift the strike order giving the writers 11 days to produce material for the Academy Awards ceremony on the 24 February 2008. Normally they would have several weeks to write material for the Oscars. The writers had been striking about their shares of potential profits from programming on the internet and other new media. It had begun on the 5 November 07.
Celebrities who claim to keep their Oscar award in the bathroom or the toilet include Elizabeth Taylor, Susan Sarandon and Emma Thompson.
Jack Nicholson uses one of his three Oscars as a hat stand whilst Denzil Washington plays games with his two Oscars.
How Films Quality For An Oscar
The Academy Awards Rules state that for a film to be considered for a nomination it should have been opened in the previous calendar year, which runs from midnight 1 January to midnight 31 December in Los Angeles County, California.
Films must be at least 40 minutes long, which the Academy define as then being feature length, with the exception of those nominated to the short subject awards.
Films must be shot in certain formats, which are 35mm or 70mm film print, on a 24fps or 48fps progressive scan digital film print with a native resolution no lower than 1280x1024.
How Actors Are Nominated For An Oscar Award
Each profession can nominate other people in their profession, ie directors can nominate another director and an actor can nominate another actor. An exemption to this is an open category such as Best Picture where anyone can place a nomination.
Nominations are then collated and given out to members to vote in each category. The nominations are made public six weeks prior to the award ceremony.
Award Categories Of The Oscars
- Best Picture
- Best Leading Actor
- Best Leading Actress
- Best Supporting Actor
- Best Supporting Actress
- Best Animated Feature
- Best Art Direction/Interior Set Decoration
- Best Cinematography
- Best Costume Design
- Best Director
- Best Documentary Feature
- Best Documentary Short Subject
- Best Film Editing
- Best Foreign Language Film
- Best Makeup
- Best Original Score
- Best Original Song
- Best Original Musical
- Best Animated Short Film
- Best Live Action Short Film
- Best Sound Mixing
- Best Sound Editing
- Best Visual Effects
- Best Adapted Screenplay
- Best Original Screenplay
Actors And Writers Who Have Refused An Oscar
Actor Marlon Brando declined his Oscar for the film The Godfather. He did this in protest at alleged discrimination by Hollywood against Native Americans.
The writer Dudley Nichols refused his Oscar for the screenplay of The Informer in 1935 because of a writer's strike.
The actor George C. Scott refused his Oscar for Best Actor for his role in the film Paton because he did not agree with competitive acting awards.
Though writer and director Woody Allan has never refused his Oscars, he had never accepted them either. It is rumoured that his Oscar awards for Hannah And Her Sisters and Annie Hall are locked safely in a vault waiting for him to collect them both.
The 2007 Oscars was the 79th annual Oscar event and was watched by over 40 million viewers around the world. Over 3000 celebrities attended the 2007 Oscars at the Hollywood Kodak Theatre. The event was hosted by comedienne Ellen DeGeneres
Nominations For The 2007 Oscars
Nominations for the 2007 Oscars included:
Best Film: Babel, The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen.
Best Director: Babel - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Departed - Martin Scorsese, Letters From Iwo Jima - Clint Eastwood, The Queen - Stephen Frears, United 93 - Paul Greengrass.
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond, Ryan Gosling - Half Nelson, Peter O'Toole - Venus, Will Smith - The Pursuit Of Happyness, Forest Whitaker - The Last King Of Scotland.
Best Actress: Penelope Cruz - Volver, Judi Dench - Notes On A Scandal, Helen Mirren - The Queen, Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada, Kate Winslet - Little Children.
Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin - Little Miss Sunshine, Jackie Earle Haley - Little Children, Djimon Hounsou - Blood Diamond, Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls, Mark Wahlberg - The Departed.
Best Supporting Actress: Adriana Barraza - Babel, Cate Blanchett - Notes On A Scandal, Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine, Jennifer Hudson - Dreamgirls, Rinko Kikuchi - Babel.
2007 Oscar Winners
Dame Helen Mirren won Best Lead Actress for her role in The Queen. She paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her dignity and even made a joke about her having the same hair style for over 50 years! Dame Helen Mirren was the first British actress to win an Oscar since 1992 (the 65th Oscars) when Emma Thompson won the award for Actress In A Leading Role for the film Howard's End where she played Margaret Schlegel. Just seconds before winning the award Dame Mirren had a wardrobe malfunction when one of her diamond earrings fell out. This is why photos of her receiving her Oscar statue picture her wearing just one earring.
Martin Scorsese finally won a gong for Best Motion Picture for his directorship of the Hollywood blockbuster The Departed. This was Martin's fifth Oscar nomination and as he accepted his golden gong he joked and asked the presenter, Steven Spielberg, to double check the envelope. Martin Scorsese received a standing ovation from the crowd. As he received his Oscar he gave a small speech and said: "I'm overwhelmed and so moved."
As hotly predicted Forest Whitaker won the Oscar for Best Lead Actor for his role as Idi Amin in The Last King Of Scotland.
Supporting Actor - Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine
Supporting Actress - Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls
Foreign Language Film - The Lives of Others (Germany)
Adapted Screenplay - William Monahan for The Departed
Directing - Martin Scorsese for The Departed
Original Screenplay - Michael Arndt for Little Miss Sunshine
Animated Feature Film - Happy Feet
Art Direction - Pan's Labyrinth
Cinematography - Pan's Labyrinth
Sound Mixing - Dream Girls
Sound Editing - Letters From Iwo Jima
Original Score - Babel
Original Score - I Need To Wake Up, From An Inconvenient Truth - Melissa Etheridge
Costume - Marie Antoinette
Documentary Feature - An Inconvenient Truth
Documentary Short Subject - Blood Of Yingzhou District
Film Editing - The Departed
Make Up - Pan's Labyrinth
Animated Short Film - The Danish Poet
Live Action Short Film - West Bank Story
Visual Effects - Pirates Of The Caribbean
Jean Hersholt Award - Sherry Lansing
Honorary Award - Ennio Morricone
Best Motion Picture - The Departed
2007 marked the eighth Oscar nomination for the actor Peter O'Toole and sadly he has never won an Oscar. This makes this top UK actor the most Oscar nominated actor to never win the award.
The official website of the Oscars can be found at www.oscars.org and the official homepage of the Oscars awards ceremony can be found at www.oscar.com
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