History of the Academy Awards
The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are the most prestigious awards that can be won in the film industry. The best known actors and actresses attend the red carpet ceremony, which is watched by millions worldwide. The golden knight statue, fashioned in art deco style, is a coveted award by all faculties of the film industry, from the actors and actresses, directors, writers, cameramen, costume departments to the film score composers.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) are the organizing body of the Academy Awards. It was Louis B. Mayer of the Louis B. Mayer Pictures Corporation who first conceived of the idea to award films as a means of creating publicity for motion pictures.
“I found that the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them ... If I got them cups and awards, they'd kill them to produce what I wanted. That's why the Academy Award was created”.
Mayer wished to unify all the specialists working in cinematography, in actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. This would serve the purpose to encourage the art and technical maturity of the industry.
The first Oscars were held in 1929, hosted by AMPAS president, silent era film actor, director, producer and writer Douglas Fairbanks. The entry fee was $5, which would be $75 in today's market, and was attended by 270 guests. It only lasted 15 minutes!
Without the modern day suspense and excitement, this event was more of a formality; the winners of the different categories were formally announced three months before the ceremony.
The first Oscars were awarded in several categories, namely: Outstanding Picture, Best Unique and Artistic Picture, Best Directing (Comedy Picture), Best Directing (Dramatic Picture), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Writing (Original Story), Best Writing (Adaptation), Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Engineering an Best Writing (Title Writing).
The modern day Oscars share some of the same categories as the very first ceremony, but with added inclusions due to the advance of technology and the rise of interest in foreign films.
These categories include the Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short Subject, Best Sound, Best Supporting Actor, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Supporting Actress, Best International Feature Film, Best Animated Feature FIlm, Best Live Action Short Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Animated Short Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.
Academy Awards Controversies
Despite being widely popular with high view ratings, the event has received its fair share of criticism over the years from film enthusiasts.
The awards have been accused of having certain biases. In the past the awards were infamous for favouring historical based films over films that featured a contemporary setting, these were called “Oscar bait” by the public.
The Oscars have also fallen victim to public opinion, with some films having larger budgets to advertise leading to sway the voters to nominate films that, while popular, do not boast a brilliant screenplay or award winning performance.
Another criticism in the past has been the lack of diversity amongst the nominees. Statistics show that since 1991, only 11.2% of those nominated have been non-white. Many portrayals have been overlooked due to the marketability of films, which has been a longstanding issue. Fortunately, in 2020, the Academy announced that serious changes were made to the memberships, and that these issues were to be addressed.
Streaming platforms have also been the topic of controversy at the Oscars. In February 2019, the Netflix special, Roma, received high praise and received ten nominations, taking home a Best Picture Oscar. Consequently, the voting panel were quick to impose sanctions on any and all streaming productions. Panel member Steven Spielberg argued that due to the huge popularity, the streaming services could offer a far larger budget than filmmakers could expect from movie production companies. The viewer ratings were also at an unfair advantage, as people could just stream the films from the comfort of their own home thus becoming far more accessible than the conventional box office films. The United States Department of Justice wrote a letter to the Academy, warning them that levying restrictions on films that were developed by streaming platforms could raise antitrust concerns against the Academy. Finally, the issue was resolved, with members of the Academy agreeing that all films could be eligible for the Oscars, so long as they have at least a minimal theatrical run.
When and Where Do The Ceremonies Take Place
The upcoming 94th Academy Awards will take place on the 27th of March, at the Dolby Theatre, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Traditionally the events take place in February or early March, but this event was moved to not coincide with the 2022 Winter Olympics (which will take place from 4-20 February).
The event has already announced its Honorary Academy Awards, given to actors or actresses for their career achievements in cinematography. These are to be given to Hollywood heavyweight Samuel L. Jackson, Elaine Mya and Liv Ullman. The Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, given to philanthropic actors or actresses for their contributions to humanitarian causes, will be given to Danny Glover.
How to Bet On The Oscars
Here at mr.play, we offer the chance to bet on the outright winners of the Best Picture Award. In the Specials, you will find the 94th Academy Awards Outrights, where you can find all the films tipped to win the Best Picture Award.
The bookies’ favourite at an odds of 4.50 is Belfast. The film, directed by Kenneth Branagh, stars Cationa Balfe, Judie Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds, Colin Morgan and up and coming actor Jude Hill. It is a black and white drama picture, about coming of age during the problematic 1960’s in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Director Kenneth Brannagh describes it as his most personal film.
The Power of the Dog is the second favourite, directed by Jane Campion, this film stars highly acclaimed actor Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Keith Carradine and Frances Corroy. It is a western, based on a book of the same name written by Thomas Savage.
Nightmare Alley, the psychological thriller film directed by famed director Guillermo Del Toro, is also a good bet. The ensemble cast features Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Colette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Rooney Mara, Ron Perlman and David Strathairn. The upcoming movie is set to premiere in late 2021, it is based on the 1946 novel of the same name written by William Lindsey Gresham. Searchlight Pictures describes the premise with the following; “Stan Carlisle, an ambitious carny with a talent for manipulating people with a few well-chosen words, hooks up with Dr. Lilith Ritter, a psychiatrist who is even more dangerous than he is”.
The highly popular Dune also features in this list coming in at an odds of 10. The epic science fiction film has so far racked up over $230 million in the box office. Directed by French Canadian director Denis Villenueve, it is the first film in a two part adaptation of the 1956 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert. The film stars a strong ensemble cast including Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Chang Chen, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, and Javier Bardem.
Other films including West Side Story, Soggy Bottom, House of Gucci, House of Macbeth, CODA, Don’t Look Up, Blue Bayou and King Richard are also featured amongst the 48 different films you can bet on for Best Picture.
How to Pick The Winner
Things to look for when trying to bet on the Oscars are the reception by critics and box office success of the film. A strong ensemble cast can also be a factor, but when looking for the Best Picture, then it is important to look at genres. The most popular genres to receive the highly prestigious award are thrillers, dramas and epic stories.