The 84th Annual Academy Awards airs soon on ABC, so be sure you’re up on the latest news with this complete A-Z guide to the Oscars. The nominees were just announced today, so it’s the perfect time to look at this year’s contenders and the fascinating history of the biggest and most prestigious awards show in America.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences: This elite organization of industry giants votes to decide who wins an Oscar. It is compromised of more than 6,000 artists and professionals who bring the magic of movies to life. Members of the Academy are the cream of the crop, and include actors Will Smith and Salma Hayek, writers Sofia Coppola and Quentin Tarantino, and musicians Bruce Springsteen and Elton John, in addition to thousands of others.
Best Picture Nominees: The 2012 Best Picture nominees are “The Artist,” “War Horse,” “The Descendants,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Help,” “Hugo” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”
Billy Crystal: Crystal’s first film role was in a film by Joan Rivers called “Rabbit Test.” He hosted the Academy Awards in 1990-1993, 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2004. His nine times hosting record comes in second place to Bob Hope, who hosted the awards ceremony a whopping 18 times. On November 11, 2011, the Academy announced that Crystal would replace Eddie Murphy as host of the 84th Annual Academy Awards.
Directors: The Best Director is the 2nd most anticipated Academy Award of the evening. This year’s nominee list includes: Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist,” Alexander Payne for “The Descendants,” Martin Scorsese for “Hugo,” Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris,” and Terrence Malick for “The Tree of Life.”
Eighty-fourth Annual Academy Awards: Far from the eagerly anticipated and globally televised event it is today, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place out of the public eye during an Academy banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Two hundred seventy people attended the May 16, 1929 dinner in the hotel’s Blossom Room. Guest tickets cost $5. The first presentation was the only one to escape a media audience; by the second year, enthusiasm for the Awards grew and a Los Angeles radio station produced a live one-hour broadcast of the event. The ceremony has been broadcast ever since. Starting with the 16th Oscar ceremony, which was held at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, the event has always been held at a theater. In 1953, the first televised Oscar ceremony enabled millions throughout the United States and Canada to watch the proceedings. Broadcasting in color began in 1966, affording home viewers a chance to fully experience the dazzling allure of the event. Since 1969, the Oscar show has been broadcast internationally, now reaching movie fans in over 200 countries.
Four Seasons Hotel: The elegant Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills is a magnet for stars during Oscar weekend. The Oscar Weekend Package goes for $4,000 and includes two nights in a luxurious suite, spa treatments and dinner at the award-winning Gardens restaurant. It’s a hot spot to “see and been seen” during Oscar weekend.
George Clooney: George Clooney looks to be the frontrunner in the Best Actor category. Last week, he took home a Golden Globe Award for his role in “The Defendants.” Other best Actor nominees include pal Brad Pitt for “Moneyball,” Demian Bichir for “A Better Life” (surprise), Jean Dujardin for “The Artist,” and Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” Clooney received a second nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for the political thriller “The Ides of March.” Brad Pitt was also nominated for Best Producer for “Moneyball.” It’s a good year for the pals who became friends during filming of “Ocean’s 11.”
Honorary Awards: Oprah Winfrey, James Earl Jones and Dick Smith were this year’s Honorary Oscar Award winners. They were handed out at the Governor’s Awards on November 12, 2011. “I never imagined receiving an Oscar, especially for doing what is part of my calling, part of my being,” Winfrey said during her acceptance speech. Smith, affectionately known as “the godfather of makeup,” began his career in 1945 as NBC’s first makeup artist and went on to work on films like “Amadeus,” “Dad,” “The Godfather,” “The Exorcist” and “Taxi Driver.” James Earl Jones has starred in more than 50 films and was referred to by Glenn Close as “one of the greatest actors in American history.”
International TV Audience: With more than 36 million viewers in the United States and hundreds of millions of others across the globe, the Academy Awards is one of the most popular TV events in the world.
Jonah Hill: He snagged a 2012 Oscar nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category for “Moneyball.” Other nominees in this category include Christopher Plummer for “Beginners,” Max Von Sydow for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” Kenneth Branagh for “My Week with Marilyn,” and Nick Nolte for “Warrior.”
Kodak Theatre: Since its opening on November 9, 2001, the prestigious Kodak Theater has been the home of the annual Academy Awards. The first Oscars were held at the theatre in March of 2002, and it is the first permanent home of the Awards. Since 2002, it is also the home of “American Idol.” It has a seating capacity for up to 3.401 people, and its stage is one of the largest in the United States. Eastman paid $75 million to have its name associated with the theatre.
Live Red Carpet Shows: Some of the best Oscar fun comes from watching the celebrities walk the red carpet prior to entering the Kodak Theatre. E! begins its coverage at 6:00 ET/3:00 PT with “Live From the Red Carpet.” It’s hosted by Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic. TV Guide’s red carpet coverage also begins at 6 ET/3 CT with host Chris Harrington from “The Bachelor.”
Memorable Moments: From push-ups to protests, anything can happen on Oscar night. Some standout moments include Jack Palance doing a one-armed push-up after winning the Best Supporting Oscar in 1991, seeing Spielberg and Scorsese finally win well-deserved Oscars for “Schindler’s List” and “The Departed,” Woody Allen’s post 9-11 appearance to salute New York, David Niven and the 1974 streaker, and Sally Field exclaiming, “You really like me!” after winning the Best Actress Oscar for “Places in the Heart” in 1985.
Nominees: Here are the motion pictures with the most Academy Award nominations for 2012: “Hugo”: 11, “The Artist”: 10. Interestingly enough, no other film received nominations in the double digits. The inclusion of “War Horse” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” are two big surprises this year, as is the inclusion of Demian Bichir in the Best Actor category. Snubs include Sandra Bullock, Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio. Pixar was also snubbed by the Academy this year.
Oscar.com: Oscar All Access is a premium service that gives Oscar fans the ultimate view of Hollywood’s biggest night. Beginning with the Red Carpet, and continuing through the Governor’s Ball, Oscar All Access members will get unprecedented, behind the scenes access and see the event like never before. With exclusive access to groundbreaking “360 cam” technology, members can direct their own Oscar experience with just the touch of a mouse. $4.99.
Presenters and Swag Bags: Stars clamor to be an Oscar presenter to snag one of the best goodie bags ever. They’re full of elite products with a value as high as $30,000 and include an array of electronic gadgets, gourmet treats, getaways, specialty beauty gifts, jewelry and much more. Last year’s list of Oscar presenters included some of Hollywood’s biggest names, like Annette Benning, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Jude Law Helen Mirren, and more.
Queen of the Night: Octavia Spencer has been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for her role in “The Help.” Also nominated are fellow actress from “The Help,” Jessica Chastain, Berenice Bejo for “The Artist,” Melissa McCarthy for “Bridesmaids,” and Janet McTeer for “Albert Nobbs.” Spencer already has won the Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Movie Award for her performance, as well as the National Board of Review honor as a member of the ensemble of the film. Plus, she’s also in contention for BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild awards. Look for Spencer’s momentum to keep going with a 2012 Oscar win.
The Razzie Awards: Hollywood’s cynical answer to the Academy Awards is going to do things a lot differently this year. For years now, the awards that nobody but Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock wanted to win announced their nominations the day before the Osars did, and their winners the day before the Oscars telecast. That’s going to change in 2012, with the nominations announced the day before the Oscar ceremony and the winners announced on April Fool’s Day. Predictions for a 2012 Razzy for Worst Picture include “Abduction,” “Apollo 18,” “Conan the Barbarian,” “Dream House,” “Jack and Jill,” “Season of the Witch,” “The Smurfs” and “Zookeeper.”
Statuette: The most recognized trophy in the world, the Oscar statuette has stood on the mantels of the greatest filmmakers in history since 1929. The Award statuette features a knight holding a crusader’s sword, standing on a reel of film. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy (actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers). It stands 13-1/2” high and weighs 8-1/2 pounds.
Traditions After the Awards: After the Best Picture award is presented, it’s time to party. The stars head out to hit at least one of the big Oscar parties in Hollywood. The studios usually host the grandest parties, but there are a slew of other popular post-Oscar events. Immediately following the Awards, most stars head over to the Governor’s Ball. After getting their picture taken, they quickly depart for the highbrow Vanity Fair soiree, an Oscar tradition since 1994. From there, it’s on to the private parties, like the ones hosted by Elton John, Madonna and Demi Moore. The most exclusive of all the Oscar parties, the one every actor dreams of one day being invited to, is the dinner hosted by Dani Janssen, wife of late actor David Janssen. This is where the likes of Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, Whoopi Goldberg, Quincy Jones, Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Barbara Streisand and Harrison Ford go to following the Governor’s Ball.
Upsets and Underdogs: While the press always thinks they know who the Academy Award winners will be, an underdog or two usually manages to snatch a statuette away from the favorite. Two years ago, little-seen indie film “The Hurt Locker” upset James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar” for Best Film. This year’s underdogs include “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and “The Tree of Life,” which were both snubbed by the Golden Globes. Shoe-ins like Michael Fassbender for “Shame” for the Best Actor category were shut out in favor of Gary Oldman for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and long-shot nominee Demian Bichir for “A Better Life.” Melissa McCarthy is an underdog for her role in “Bridesmaids,” but comedy fans are happy to see her inclusion in the Best Actress category.
Visual Effects: Outstanding special effects can make a movie truly memorable. This year’s Oscar nominees for best Visual Effects are “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” “Hugo,” “Real Steel,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” and “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
War Horse: “War Horse” received six 2012 Oscar nominations, including a nod for Best Picture. It remains a favorite film of moviegoers, who applaud at the end of Steven Speilberg’s mesmerizing tale set during World War I. The film was ignored at the Golden Globes, but could be a dark horse at the 2012 Oscars. To date, “War Horse” has grossed more than $72 million in the U.S. Its 2012 Academy Award nominations include Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Score.
Youngest Person to Ever Receive an Oscar: Five-year-old Shirley Temple in 1934, however Shirley’s Oscar was an honorary one. The youngest actress to win a standard Oscar was Tatum O’Neal, who was 10 years old when she won the Best Supporting Actress award for “Paper Moon” in 1974. The oldest, Jessica Tandy, won her Best Actress Oscar at age 81 for “Driving Miss Daisy.”
Zzzzzz… Greer Garison gave the longest Oscar acceptance speech in 1946. Clocked at 5-1/2 minutes, it holds the record. The 74th Academy Awards Show in 2002 was the longest Oscar broadcast ever. It was hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and ran 4 hours and 17 minutes. It also pulled in the lowest ratings ever and was the Awards’ first high definition broadcast.
The 84th Annual Academy Awards airs at 7e/4p on Sunday, February 26th on ABC. For a complete list of this year’s nominees, go to www.oscars.com.
Sources: Toronto Sun, Oscar.go.com, ABC News, The Insider, Razzies.com, Showbiz and Style, E!
Do you want to stay in-the-know? Then sign up to get my articles personally delivered to your in-box. Just click on SUBSCRIBE, and you’ll stay up-to-the-minute with your favorite television shows and stars.