Saturday, February 27, 2010

A bit of Oscar History

Seven days and counting to Hollywood's Biggest Night...the Oscars! I thought I'd share a bit of trivia with you about the famous Oscar© statuettes and more...


All About Oscar
We generally think of the entire Academy Awards ceremony as "the Oscars," but Oscar is really just a nickname for the actual award statuettes and their image. When MGM art director Cedric Gibbons and sculptor George Stanley created the statuette in 1928, the Academy referred to it as the Academy Award of Merit. It didn't take on the name Oscar until the 1930s.

There are several stories about the nickname's origin, and nobody is completely sure of the truth. The Academy supports this version: In the early '30s, an Academy librarian named Margaret Herrick remarked that the statue looked like her Uncle Oscar. The name stuck, and the Academy staff began referring to the statue as "Oscar." In 1934, Sidney Skolsky mentioned the nickname in a column on Katharine Hepburn's first Best Actress win. The name caught on, and the Academy officially adopted it in 1939.

The statuette fondly known as the Oscar© weighs 8.5-pounds and stands 13.5-inches tall. Craftsmen at R. S. Owens & Company carefully cast each statuette in britannium (a metal alloy), and plate it with 24-karat gold. The figure is mounted to a round, black marble base. The original Oscars were cast in bronze. After a few years, the Academy switched to britannium to make it easier to apply a smooth finish. According to the Academy, the Oscar statuette depicts a crusader knight, grasping a sword. The knight stands on a film reel, with five spokes that represent the five original branches of the Academy: Directors, Actors, Writers, Producers and Technicians.

Did you know?
In the early years, the Academy gave child winners miniature Oscars. In 1937, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his dummy, Charlie McCarthy, won an Oscar for special acting: a wooden Oscar with a moveable mouth. In 1938, the Academy honored Walt Disney with one full-size Oscar and seven miniature statuettes for "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." During World War II, Oscars were made of plaster due to the metals shortage; however winners were allowed to turn in the plaster statues for gold ones when the war ended.

Is it really a Secret?
In the Academy's early years, the award winners were announced the night before the ceremony. This allowed newspapers to have the winners listed in the late-night editions that would go out on the night of the Oscars after the winners had been announced. However, newspapers began printing the Oscar edition earlier in the evening, and by 1940, ceremony guests could pick up a paper and find out who won while on their way to the ceremony. Perhaps sensing that this early notification would bring an end to people actually attending the ceremony, and to add suspense, the Academy began keeping results in the sealed envelopes that we know today. Now, when the Oscar presenter says, "and the Oscar goes to," we're all finding out at the same time.

And the Nominees this year are ...

Best Picture:
•"Avatar"
•"The Blind Side"
•"District 9"
•"An Education"
•"The Hurt Locker"
•"Inglourious Basterds"
•"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
•"A Serious Man"
•"Up"
•"Up in the Air"

Foreign Language Film:
•"Ajami" - Israel
•"El Secreto de Sus Ojos" - Argentina
•"The Milk of Sorrow" - Peru
•"Un Prophète" - France
•"The White Ribbon" - Germany

Actor in a Leading Role:
•Jeff Bridges, "Crazy Heart"
•George Clooney, "Up in the Air"
•Colin Firth, "A Single Man"
•Morgan Freeman, "Invictus"
•Jeremy Renner, "The Hurt Locker"

Actress in a Leading Role:
•Sandra Bullock, "The Blind Side"
•Helen Mirren, "The Last Station"
•Carey Mulligan, "An Education"
•Gabourey Sidibe, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"
•Meryl Streep, "Julie and Julia"

Actor in a Supporting Role:
•Matt Damon, "Invictus"
•Woody Harrelson, "The Messenger"
•Christopher Plummer, "The Last Station"
•Stanley Tucci, "The Lovely Bones"
•Cristoph Waltz, "Inglourious Basterds"

Actress in a Supporting Role:
•Penelope Cruz, "Nine"
•Vera Farmiga, "Up in the Air"
•Maggie Gyllenhaal, "Crazy Heart"
•Anna Kendrick, "Up in the Air"
•Mo'Nique, "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire"

Nominees Source: Oscar.com

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