The Oscars – what you need to know

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On 22 February we’ll find out who’s taking a 2015 Oscar home with them.  It will be the 87th ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles. So, if you’d like to impress your friends and family during the ceremony with some great gems of knowledge about the Oscars, read on…

The Oscar
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The Oscar

Why is an Oscar called an Oscar?

There are a few theories but the most common explanation is that the official title of ‘The Academy Award of Merit’ became known as an Oscar in 1931 when an Academy Award librarian called Margaret Herrick (who went on the become the Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) declared that the statuette looked like her ‘Uncle Oscar’. A columnist at the time, Sidney Skolsky overheard her and published that the employees of the Academy affectionately called the statue Oscar. The name stuck. 

Lord of the Rings received 11 nominations
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Lord of the Rings received 11 nominations

Oscar records

The facts and figures around the Oscars are unlimited. Here are our top five did you knows…

The record for most Oscars won in a single year is 11 and has been achieved three times by Ben Hur (1959), Titanic (1997) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). Titanic holds the record for number of nominations at 14.

Mrs Miniver - winner of longest speech
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Mrs Miniver - winner of longest speech

The shortest speech was Alfred Hitchcock in 1968 – two words. ‘Thank you’. The longest Oscar speech was Greer Garson, winning for  Mrs Miniver in 1943 lasting a whopping five and a half minutes. The producers eventually capped speeches at 45 seconds in 2010.  

The person with the most Oscars is Walt  Disney with a huge 29 golden statuettes and a total of 59 nominations. Meryl Streep has the most nominations for acting with 19 but has only actually won 3. Jack Nicholson leads the way for the men with 12 nominations and 3 wins.

Silence of the Lambs - last winner of the big five
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Silence of the Lambs - last winner of the big five

The big five are:

  1. Best Picture
  2. Director
  3. Actor
  4. Actress 
  5. Screenplay
Whilst  American Hustle (2014) was nominated for all five, the last winner of the big five was actually  Silence of the Lambs at the 1992 awards.

The Academy normally shuns blockbusters with two exceptions; Titanic is the highest ever grossing Best Picture winner, with The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King a reasonably close second. They are both nearly double the next contender.  

Who votes for the Oscars?

There are currently 6,028 voting members of the academy. There are strict credentials to get nominated like length of service to your field or number of credits to your name, but if you’ve been nominated or won an Oscar you are automatically considered for membership. You can only be a member of one particular field and can only vote for awards in those fields i.e. an actor can only vote for awards for acting, a director can only vote for awards for directing etc.
 
The actual voting process is managed by the accountants PriceWaterhouseCoopers and takes a massive 1,700 man hours every year. It really is an industry in itself! 
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