Sunday February 24, 2013
Records and firsts
The 85th Academy Awards ceremony will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane, who is best known for creating the animated TV shows Family Guy and American Dad!. The awards are given out by the Beverly Hills, Los Angeles-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
When the Academy Awards were handed out on May 16, 1929, movies had just begun to talk. The inaugural ceremony took place in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles; guest tickets cost US$5. The Best Actress and Best Actor awards went to Janet Gaynor for her performances in Sunrise and Seventh Heaven, both from 1927, and Street Angel from 1928, and to Emil Jannings for The Last Command and The Way Of All Flesh. The Warner Bros film The Jazz Singer received a special award as the “pioneering outstanding talking picture, which has revolutionised the industry”.
The Academy had ruled it was ineligible for the best picture award because it was thought it would be unfair to let sound films compete with silents.
This was one of the most celebrated years in American film history, encompassing such classics as The Wizard Of Oz, Stagecoach Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, Ninotchka, Wuthering Heights and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. Gone With The Wind, director Victor Fleming’s almost-four-hour blockbuster, was the longest feature released up to that time and was the year’s big Oscar winner. It was also the first colour film to win the Best Picture trophy. The film earned 13 nominations and won eight competitive awards (and two special citations) – of which both were records for the time. It held the record for Oscars until Gigi won nine of them in 1957.
The Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award was presented for the first time at the ceremony held in 1938. The honour went to Darryl F. Zanuck. The first special award to honour a foreign language motion picture was given in 1947 to the Italian film Shoeshine. Seven more special awards were presented before Foreign Language Film became an annual category in 1956. The Animated Feature Film award was added in 2001, with Shrek winning the Oscar.
The 1959 epic Ben Hur set an Academy Award record by winning 11 Oscars, a benchmark matched in 1997 by the blockbuster Titanic. The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King also won 11 Oscars – from 11 nominations – in 2003.
Meryl Streep holds the record for most acting nominations (17), and has won three. Katharine Hepburn earned 12 nominations and won four times. Ingrid Bergman is next with three Oscars from seven nominations. Jack Nicholson is the most nominated male star, with 12 nominations and three wins. Walter Brennan also won three, but from only four nominations.
The Best Picture award went to The Artist. Michel Hazanavicius also won Best Director for the film and its lead, Jean Dujardin, won Best Actor. Dujardin had the smallest amount of dialogue for a speaking role – a mere two words – of any winning performance in the sound era. For his role in Beginners, Best Supporting Actor winner Christopher Plummer became the oldest winner in an acting category at the age of 82.
An electronic first
In September 2012, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a new online voting system would be used for the 2013 Oscars ceremony. In a transitional process, the academy’s 6,000 members also will be able to use traditional paper ballots to nominate and select the 2012 winners. Until now, Oscar ballots have been mailed around the world to academy members – directors, actors, screenwriters, producers and other leading film industry figures – with results tabulated by hand by the Pricewaterhouse-Coopers accounting firm. – Reuters