The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence of various professions in the film industry.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences itself was conceived by Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio.
The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held on Thursday, May 16, 1929, at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to honor outstanding film achievements of 1927 and 1928. It was hosted by actor Douglas Fairbanks and director William C. DeMille.
The 81st Academy Awards honoring the best in film for 2008 was held on Sunday, February 22, 2009 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood with actor Hugh Jackman hosting the ceremony for the first time.
The official name of the Oscar statuette is the Academy Award of Merit.
Made of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base, it is 34 cm tall, weighs 3.85 kg and depicts a knight rendered in Art Deco style holding a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes.
The five spokes each represent the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers, and Technicians.
Voting the winners:
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), a professional honorary organization, maintains a voting membership of 5,829 as of 2007.
Actors constitute the largest voting bloc, numbering 1,311 members about 22 % of the Academy’s composition.
The Academy Award winners are voted by the 5,829 member electoral college of AMPAS.