The History of Hollywood Film Awards

The Hollywood Film Awards popularly known as Oscars recognize artistic and technical merit in films. It is given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science. The winners are decided by the voting membership. The first Academy Awards were given on 16 May 1929. A total of 15 awards were given. Participants were assessed based on their work in the year 1927-1928.

History of Academy Awards

In 1927, MGM studio chief Louis B Mayer held discussions with his friends at a dinner party. He wanted to create and organize a group to benefit the film industry. Later an International Academy of Motion Picture Arts was founded with Douglas Fairbanks as its first president. In 1928 the first Academy Committee the Awards of Merit was initiated.

The first Academy Awards Ceremony was held on May 16, 1929 at the Roosevelt’s Hotel’s Blossom Room. The names of the award recipients were announced before 3 months. The following year the results were kept a secret and an advance copy of the list was given to the newspapers to release at 11 PM after the awards were given. This continued till 1940 when the Los Angeles Times published the results before the ceremony. Hence the practice of sealed envelope system began which exists even today.

The Oscar

The award winners are given a copy of a golden statuette. This is called the Academy Award of Merit officially. This has changed very little from what was given in 1929.

The design of the statuette was created by Cedric Gibbons, Chief Art Director of MGM. It was sculpted by the Los Angeles artist George Stanley. It depicts a Knight drawn in the Art Deco style holding a crusader’s sword. He is seen standing on a reel of film with 5 spokes. These spokes represent actors, writers, directors, producers and technicians.

The original Oscars were made of gold plated bronze. Later, in the mid 1930’s bronze was replaced by Britannia metal (tin, antimony and copper). This was plated in copper, nickel-silver and a top coat of pure 24 karat gold. During the war between 1942 and 1945 metal was in short supply. Oscars were then made of painted plaster. The recipients later exchanged it for the original gold.

The term ‘Oscar ‘was used to refer to it as early as in 1934. This name was officially adopted by the Academy in 1939. The award numbers have grown from the original 15 to 24. Awards for Film editing, Music score, supporting Actor and Actress, special effects (sound & Visual effect), costume design make up etc have been added. The Award for Documentary film and foreign language film has also been added. In 2001 Animated Feature Film Category was also added. There are other Awards like the Irving G.Thalberg Memorial Award, Jean Hershelt Humanitarian Award and Gordon E Sawyer Awards.

The Award ceremony was first broadcast on radio in 1930. The first television airing was in 1953 and in color in 1966. In 1969 Hollywood Awards were first telecast internationally to about 200 countries.