The Oscar nominations for 2018 have been revealed – thanks Andy Serkis, thanks Tiffany Kaddish – and with a few exceptions (Rachel Morrison for Mudbound, Denzel Washington for Roman Israel Esq) there really aren’t that many surprises in any of the categories (what’s that? Where’s The Disaster Artist? You mean, you have to ask?) So, it’s business as usual for the world’s biggest and grandest backslapping event. With yet another four-hour show set to initially dazzle and then benumb us, it’s getting harder to remember a time when an Oscars ceremony was actually something to remember. (And no, last year’s embarrassing faux pas with the Best Film announcement doesn’t count – that wasn’t planned.)
In this it’s 90th year, there’ll be the usual pontificating about who’s going to win which award, and who’s been snubbed unfairly (what’s that? Where’s The Disaster Artist? You mean, you’re still asking?), and inevitably, what will the female attendees be wearing as they wander down the red carpet – #OscarsStillTooShallow anyone? Jimmy Kimmel is returning as the host (please, no more Matt Damon rivalry), and at some point, somebody we all thought was dead will be wheeled out (possibly literally) to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Call all this progress if you will, but the Oscars weren’t always this bland and overtly commercialised. Here are ten facts about the Oscars that should serve as reminders that they haven’t always been about extravagant gift bags, excruciating acceptance speeches, and how annoyed Denzel Washington can look when he doesn’t win an award.
1 – Between 1935 and 1961, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Science (AMPAS) awarded a Juvenile Oscar to twelve young stars who were under eighteen. The first winner was Shirley Temple, for her outstanding contribution to screen entertainment during 1934, and the last recipient was Hayley Mills for Pollyanna (1960).
2 – The Oscar statuette is actually called the Academy Award of Merit.
3 – The first Oscars ceremony was held on 16 May 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Fifteen statuettes were awarded and the ceremony itself lasted just fifteen minutes.
4 – The Oscars ceremony was televised for the first time in 1953.
5 – The Best Foreign Language Film category wasn’t introduced until 1957, and the first winner was La Strada (1954).
6 – The Oscars ceremony has been postponed twice, first in 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King, and again in 1981 after the shooting of Ronald Reagan.
7 – Three winners have refused to accept their Oscars: screenwriter Dudley Nichols in 1936, George C. Scott in 1971, and Marlon Brando in 1973.
8 – Since 1950, the Oscar statuettes have been accompanied by a requirement that they are not to be sold by winners or their heirs unless they have first been offered to AMPAS for the sum of $1.
9 – In 1993, the In Memoriam segment was introduced, but came under fire due to the audience’s often partisan applause for some of the deceased and not everyone. Now any applause is muted during the telecast.
10 – In the previous eighty-nine awards ceremonies, 3,048 Oscars have been awarded.