How are the Oscar nominations chosen?

The gold-plated Oscar statuettes ready for presentation

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) recognises the achievement in the film industry with the Academy Award (official name Academy Award of Merit) or commonly called Oscar. Academy’s first president Douglas Fairbanks, silent film actor handed out the first award in 1929 in Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. The winners were presented with a gold-plated statuette made of solid bronze and 24-karat gold commonly called Oscar. The gold-plated statuettes were designed by Austin Cedric Gibbons, an Irish American art director and sculptured by George Stanley, an American sculpture. The statuettes measures “13½ inches tall and weighs in at a robust 8½ pounds. The film reel features five spokes, signifying the five original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. Although the statuette remains true to its original design, the size of the base varied until 1945, when the current standard was adopted.” The awards are presented annually at the Oscars ceremony.

To be picked for an Oscar in any categories, it must first be eligible for nominations involving a strict and complicated voting process with specified guidelines. The members are from the Academy itself numbering approximately above 7,000 voting. All voting members are either current or retired professionals from the film fraternity. They are also either nominated by the Academy or are previous award nominees themselves. Besides, they must also have achieved distinction in their respective fields. For instance, an actor must have at least three credited roles, while writers, producers and directors must have at least two screen credits. Members can only nominate within their branch like a director can submit a nomination for best director category, a writer for writer category and editors for best editor category etc.

However nomination for foreign films, animated feature films and documentaries are chosen by the Academy members from all branches. Members get to select the best picture from not less than five and not higher than ten nominations. Only one film can be submitted per year to this category by each country as its official entry.

The nomination for the best picture category is different as all members vote their choices from among the nominees and decide the winner.

For a film to be eligible for an award, it must be more than 40 minutes long and must be publicly premiered for paid admission for at least a week at the Los Angeles Country theatre. If a film is premiered first on television or the internet, then it cannot qualify for nomination. Another requirement is that the film must be in progressive scan digital format in either a 35 mm or 70 mm film print or in 24 frames or 48 frames.

The Academy members get a couple of weeks to send in their choices for nominees. After the ballots are in, the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) tally the votes. The Academy then announces the final Oscar nominees at a live televised press conference at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California. The final nominees are generally declared in January.

External links:

FairVote – Oscar insight: Proportional voting system makes for wide-open nomination picks

Telegraph – How the Oscars shortlist is made

Last Updated: March 24, 2019

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