The academy awards, popularly known as The Oscars, are the biggest and one of the oldest and most respected film awards in the world presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) every year, dedicating it to all aspects of filmmaking, including direction, acting, background scoring, script etc.
The academy awards were born in the United States of America as the national awards to be given for merit in the art of filmmaking and to celebrate outstanding performances in the fields that contribute to the filmmaking process.
Knowing better about AMPAS
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), established in 1927, has gained global recognition for its role in creating and hosting the Academy Awards every year. While the organisation’s primary responsibility lies in organising the Oscars, its main purpose is to advance and promote the art and science of filmmaking and preserve and promote the history of cinema.
Headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy hosts the Oscars and runs diverse educational and outreach programs to support and inspire aspiring filmmakers. These initiatives aim to nurture future industry torchbearers and ensure the art form’s continued relevance by leveraging the best technology and resources available.
AMPAS currently boasts a membership of approximately a thousand renowned figures who are considered legends and masters in their respective fields. Being a part of AMPAS is a prestigious honour, granting access to a range of benefits, including exclusive screenings, events, networking opportunities, educational programs, and the opportunity to shape the film industry’s future through Academy initiatives. Let’s explore the components of this esteemed organisation in more detail:
The Board of Governors is the governing body of AMPAS and consists of representatives from each of the 17 branches. These branches represent various disciplines in the film industry, such as Actors, Directors, Producers, Writers, Cinematographers, and more. Each branch is represented by three or four governors, who serve staggered terms.
2. Academy Executive Team
The Academy Executive Team oversees the day-to-day operations and administration of AMPAS. It includes the President, who is elected by the Board of Governors, the CEO, and other key executives who manage different aspects of the organisation.
3. Branches and Committees
17 branches of AMPAS encompass different professional areas within the film industry. They include actors, directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, film editors, costume designers, and sound engineers. Each branch has its own specific criteria and qualifications for membership, and they organise events, screenings, and discussions related to their respective fields.
Additionally, AMPAS has several committees that focus on various areas such as awards rules, preservation, diversity and inclusion, and more.
Apart from these organisation components, it is also important to understand the membership categories. So let us find out about the membership categories of the Academy:
♦ Active Members
Active members of AMPAS are those who have achieved distinction in the film industry. They have voting rights for the Academy Awards and can participate in the nomination and final voting processes. To become an active member, individuals typically need to be sponsored by existing Academy members from the same branch and demonstrate significant work or contributions to the industry.
♦ Associate Members
Associate membership is a category that allows individuals who are not eligible for active membership but have made notable contributions to the film industry to be affiliated with AMPAS.
Associate members do not have voting rights for the Oscars but can enjoy various benefits and participate in Academy events and programs.
♦ Honorary Members
Honorary membership is the highest recognition bestowed by AMPAS. It is awarded to individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the film industry or have significantly impacted the art of motion pictures. Honorary members are invited to join AMPAS and receive various privileges but do not have voting rights.
Today the Oscars are undisputedly the most popular and prestigious awards for cinema internationally and are considered more important than any silver-plated trophy cup given around the world. Getting an Oscar is regarded as the biggest deal for any artist working in the film industry worldwide. The influence and popularity of the Oscars are reimposed on people’s minds when a film’s revenue after getting the Oscar suddenly picks up from around the world.
The prestige and honour of the Oscars are often compared to be as big as the biggest sports gold and silver-plated presentation cups and best of quality sports trophies given in world championships like the ICC Cricket World Cup Trophy or the FIFA world cup trophy in the field of football. This is because the influence of Hollywood cannot be understated.
As the epicentre of the American film industry, Hollywood has consistently produced groundbreaking and influential movies that have captivated audiences around the globe. Moreover, the impact of Hollywood films extends beyond the United States, with American movies reaching a vast international audience. The Oscars, being the preeminent awards in Hollywood, naturally carry this significance, weight and recognition worldwide.
The Oscars’ celebration of excellence across various categories amplifies its global appeal. The comprehensive recognition of talent and craftsmanship makes it a coveted accolade worldwide. Additionally, the Oscars provide:
- a platform for international filmmakers to showcase their work,
- leading to wider recognition and cross-cultural appreciation,
- fostering diverse perspectives in the film industry.
The academy awards are mostly recognised as the Oscars, and there are various theories regarding the origin of the nickname “Oscar.” The most widely accepted one attributes the name to Margaret Herrick, the Academy’s librarian, who remarked that the statuette resembled her Uncle Oscar. It is said that the name caught on and has been used colloquially ever since.
To observe the design significance of trophies like the Oscars, we can note how its design stands out even if we search the best markets worldwide to find any entertainment trophies, presentation cups or even sports medals to buy. The design of the Oscar trophy completely stands out, and this is credited to Los Angeles artist Cedric Gibbons, the head of the art department at MGM Studios, and sculptor George Stanley. They collaborated to create the iconic statuette. The figure depicted on the trophy is a stylised, gold-plated knight holding a crusader’s sword and standing on a reel of film. The original Oscar statuette was made of gold-plated bronze.
The Oscar trophy design originated in the early 1920s through a collaboration between the Academy’s first president, Douglas Fairbanks, and sculptor George Stanley. Their vision was to create an iconic symbol for the awards, resulting in the distinctive design we know today. The concept centred around a knight holding a crusader’s sword standing on a film reel.
This representation embodied the film industry’s chivalry, courage, and artistic excellence ideals. The crusader’s sword symbolised the ability of the arts to transcend cultural boundaries and make a lasting impact. At the knight’s feet, the film reel signified the medium through which these achievements are recognised and celebrated.
Cedric Gibbons further refined the design, giving it a streamlined and polished appearance. While the Oscar trophy has undergone subtle modifications over time, including changes in size and material, its core elements have remained unchanged. The trophy is crafted from gold-plated bronze, standing at approximately 13.5 inches tall and weighing around 8.5 pounds. Traditionally, it is cast in a foundry located in Chicago, Illinois, a process that takes several weeks to complete.
Ultimately we can say that the Oscar trophy is of immense significance in the world of cinema. It represents the highest achievement and honours filmmakers and artists’ exceptional artistry, creativity, and dedication. The academy awards inspire filmmakers to push boundaries and strive for excellence. It has the power to elevate careers and change lives, as seen in many examples where regional films have done amazingly well after getting one or even being nominated for the Oscars.
This shows how a physical trophy, the Oscar, has become a cultural phenomenon, uniting people worldwide through the universal language of film. It serves as a symbol of artistic merit and reflects societal values. The Oscar’s impact on the industry and its enduring legacy are testaments to the transformative power of cinema.