Tag Archives: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

 A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE OSCAR® 

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Shortly after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was incorporated in 1927, a dinner was held in the Crystal Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles to discuss the goals of the new organization. One of those goals was devising a method to honor outstanding achievements, thus encouraging higher levels of quality in all facets of motion picture production.

At one of the many meetings in the following weeks, MGM art director Cedric Gibbons sketched the figure of a knight gripping a sword, standing in front of a reel of film. The five spokes of the reel stood for the original five branches of the Academy – actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers – and the sword symbolized protection for the welfare and advancement of the industry. The design was immediately adopted by the Board of Directors and graced the cover of the November 1927 issue of the Academy magazine. In early 1928, Gibbons chose Los Angeles sculptor George Stanley to realize his design in three dimensions. Together they discussed the design concept – no live models or sketches were used – and Stanley worked up several versions from which Gibbons selected one. In the finished design, the figure of the knight was streamlined and the film reel moved beneath its feet. The now iconic statuette was born.

Since the initial awards banquet on May 16, 1929, in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel’s Blossom Room, over 3,000 statuettes have been presented. Each January, additional new golden statuettes are hand-cast in bronze by New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry before receiving its 24-karat gold finish by Epner Technology, a renowned high-tech specification electroplating company in Brooklyn.

The statuette stands 131/2 inches tall and weighs a robust 81/2 pounds. The design of the statuette has never changed from its original conception, but the size of the base varied until the present standard was adopted in 1945. Officially named the Academy Award® of Merit, the statuette is better known by its nickname, Oscar, the origins of which aren’t clear. A popular story has been that Academy librarian and eventual executive director Margaret Herrick thought it resembled her Uncle Oscar and said so, and that the Academy staff began referring to it as Oscar. In any case, by the sixth Awards presentation in 1934, Hollywood columnist Sidney Skolsky used the name in his column in reference to Katharine Hepburn’s first Best Actress win. The Academy itself didn’t use the nickname officially until 1939.

Actual Oscar statuettes to be presented during the 79th Annual Academy Awards sit in a display case in Hollywood

The 15 statuettes presented at the initial ceremonies were gold-plated solid bronze. Within a few years the bronze was abandoned in favor of britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy, which made it easier to give the statuettes their smooth finish. Because of the metals shortage during World War II, Oscars® were made of painted plaster for three years. Following the war, all of the awarded plaster figures were exchanged for gold-plated metal ones.

Achievements in up to 24 regular categories will be honored on February 26, 2017, at the 89th Oscars® presentation at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center®. However, the Academy won’t know how many statuettes it will actually hand out until the envelopes are opened on Oscar Night®. Although the number of categories will be known prior to the ceremony, the possibility of ties and of multiple recipients sharing the prize in some categories makes the exact number of Oscar statuettes to be presented unpredictable. As in previous years, any surplus awards will be housed in the Academy’s vault until next year’s event.

Except in years when the Academy created a publicity event out of the delivery of the Oscars to Los Angeles, they normally were sent over land by common carrier. However, in 2000, only a few weeks before the presentation date, that year’s shipment of Oscars was stolen from the overland carrier’s loading dock. They were recovered a week later, but not before some nerve-wracking days had passed. Since then, the Academy has kept an additional ceremony’s-worth of statuettes on hand.

Oscar

The Oscar statuette is the most recognized award in the world. Its success as a symbol of achievement in filmmaking would doubtless amaze those who attended that dinner more than 80 years ago, as well as its designer, Cedric Gibbons.

It stands today, as it has since 1929, without peer, on the mantels of the greatest filmmakers in history.

 

(Source: oscars.org)

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Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only the End of the World to be Canada’s Oscar foreign-language film submission

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Jessica Wong, CBC News

3rd time 27-year-old filmmaker tapped as Canada’s Oscars pick

Canada is pinning Oscar hopes on Xavier Dolan’s latest film, It’s Only the End of the World.

The drama, about a terminally ill man returning home to his estranged family, will be Canada’s official submission to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — the group behind the Oscars — for consideration in the best foreign-language film category at the upcoming awards.

The announcement was made Friday in Montreal, with 27-year-old Dolan chosen by a 23-member Telefilm Canada committee comprising government and film industry representatives from across the country.

“The film has already been a very rich experience,” Dolan told media gathered in Montreal. “It’s a gift.”

This is the third time Dolan has been tapped as Canada’s Oscar pick: he was earlier selected as the foreign-language film submission in 2009 for his startling debut I Killed My Mother and again in 2014 for Mommy.

“Back when Mommy was selected two years ago, we had the opportunity to talk about the film in many places and communities. It was such a journey and we’re ready to embark on that again,” Dolan said.

“There’s no doubt [this film] will move members of the academy as it has engaged thousands of movie-lovers to date,” Telefilm executive director Carolle Brabant said in a statement.
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Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel play a marreied couple in Xavier Dolan’s It’s Only The End of the World (Photo credit: eOne)

Known in French as Juste la fin du monde, Dolan’s drama is based on a play of the same name by the late French writer Jean-Luc Lagarce and features a star-studded cast of French actors, including Gaspard Ulliel, Léa Seydoux, Vincent Cassel, Nathalie Baye and Marion Cotillard.

The selection of Dolan is further vindication for the young filmmaker and the movie, which was panned by a host of American critics upon its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May.  

However, It’s the End of the World closed Cannes by winning two awards — the prestigious Grand Prix and a prize from Cannes Ecumenical Jury — and earned a spot at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month.

“I don’t think today is an appropriate day to cry over spilled milk,” Dolan said Friday about past criticism.

“This is about what is next. Not what is gone already.”

Canada’s tradition of Francophone picks

Oscar organizers limit the foreign-language film category to non-American productions that primarily feature dialogue in languages other than English.

Hence, Canada’s choices have overwhelmingly been French, although we’ve also submitted Kim Nguyen’s French- and Lingala-language child-solder tale War Witch, Deepa Mehta’s Hindi-language romantic tragedy Water as well as Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner and The Necessities of Life, both starring main characters speaking Inuktituk.

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Canadian directors whose movies have been Canada’s official picks for Oscar best foreign-language film consideration include, from left, Denis Villeneuve, Xavier Dolan, Deepa Mehta, Zacharias Kunuk and im Nguyen (Canadian Press)

Canada’s past three submissions for Oscar consideration were:

  • Félix et Meira, Maxime Giroux’s French and Yiddish-language drama about an unlikely romance
  • Mommy, Dolan’s celebrated French-language mother-son drama
  • Gabrielle, Louise Archambault’s French-language coming-of-age tale about a developmentally challenged woman.

Over the years, Canada has made the foreign-language film Oscar short list seven times, most recently in 2013 for Nguyen’s War Witch. Past contenders have also included Monsieur Lazhar (directed by Philippe Falardeau), Incendies (directed by Denis Villeneuve) and Mehta’s Water.

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Quebec filmmaker Denys Arcand is Canada’s lone foreign-language film Oscar-winner. He picked up the prize in 2004 for his film The Barbarian Invasions, which was his third movie nominated in the category. (Photo from Getty Images

The country’s lone foreign-language Oscar winner, however, is Denys Arcand, who triumphed with 2003’s The Barbarian Invasions after having previously been a contender for his films The Decline of the American Empire and Jesus of Montreal.

Nominations for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 24, 2017, with the awards gala to follow on Feb. 26.

(Source: http://www.cbc.ca)