How were the Oscar categories selected

Film industry: Genesis of the most coveted film award in the world

Los Angeles / Vienna. "We will advance the art of film and film technology by awarding prizes for outstanding individual achievements." The passage concealed in the statutes at the constituent meeting of the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences" on May 11, 1927, which consisted of 36 founding members, is short but with serious consequences. And so the statues designed by Cedric Gibbons, Head of the Art Department at MGM, were awarded for the first time on May 16, 1929.

However, the event at that time was still a long way from the glamor of today's event. The winners had been known for months and some of the statues had already been picked up beforehand. There were also only a few stars and press representatives in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Douglas Fairbanks handled the award accordingly quickly: in the record time of four minutes 22 seconds. At that time, the small statue was not yet named Oscar, although it is a matter of dispute how the award got its title. The most common story is that Academy librarian and future director Margaret Herrick was reminded of her uncle Oscar. In any case, the Academy officially used the nickname for the first time in 1939.


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Entertainment and glamor

At that time the gold boy's success had already developed. Especially in turbulent economic times and during World War II, many Americans longed for entertainment and glamor. As early as the 1940s, winning an Oscar in one of the main categories meant additional income of one to two million dollars for a studio. Last but not least, the Oscar became a pawn: the economic pressure that the recession-ravaged studios exerted on the Academy in the 1930s and 40s is legendary. With the Oscar itself, however, you had to save during the world war. During this time only plaster statuettes were awarded that were exchanged for "real" Oscars after the end of the war.

Although the studios had bitterly defended themselves against the emerging television competition for a long time, the first television broadcast of an Academy Awards in 1953 marked a milestone in television history: the show, hosted by the later US President Ronald Reagan, achieved the highest audience rating since TV Introduction. The organizers of the gala proved to be mostly reliable suppliers. This has only been postponed three times: in 1938 because of a flood disaster, in 1968 because of the murder of Martin Luther King and in 1981 because of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan.

Politics and Oscar

The Oscar also came into the limelight politically: In the repressive years of McCarthy's time there were official blacklists of actors and directors branded as Communist who were not allowed to win an Oscar. The actors began to use their popularity to make political statements: improvised and planned political speeches on topics such as oppression of the indigenous people, the Vietnam War and Palestine shaped the Oscar nights as a mirror of the troubled political development in America.


That only changed when films like "Ghostbusters", "Indiana Jones" and "Beverly Hills Cop" heralded the triumph of commercial cinema in the 1980s. The Academy initially did not award the main Oscars to the masses, until in the 1990s box office successes and Oscar winners began to agree again: at the latest when "Titanic" equalized the Oscar record for "Ben Hur" (eleven Oscars in 1959) in 1997, the blockbuster cinema was become Oscar-worthy.
Trailer for the first film "Wings", which was awarded the title of best film.