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Surprising Trivia & History of the Oscars

The 92nd Academy Awards were announced this morning. With the Oscars abuzz on everybody’s mind at the moment, I figured now was the perfect time to look back and the storied history of the awards and remember some of the more fascinating and quirky happenings that you may or may not know. Some facts are silly fun while others are more disappointing realities. Despite a run that’s lasted nearly a century at this point, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still has a long way to go until the Oscars satisfyingly represent the moviegoing population. Hopefully you’ll take something of value away from this post. And if you are aware of any astonishing facts, hit us up in the comments below!

ABOUT THE NICKNAME

Hollywood lore has it that the Academy Award was nicknamed “Oscar” after Academy librarian Margaret Herrick – who eventually became executive director – saw the trophy for the first time and thought it looked like her uncle Oscar.

Wherever the nickname may have originated, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officially adopted it in 1939

ABOUT THE STATUETTE

The Oscar statuette is solid bronze and plated in 24-karat gold. It stands 13.5 inches (34 centimeters) tall and weighs 8.5 pounds (3.8 kilograms).

It takes three months for Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry in New York to manufacture a batch of 50 statuettes. More than 3 140 statuettes have been handed out since 1929.

The trophy represents a knight holding a crusader’s sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes that refer to the five original branches of the Academy – actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers.

PERFORMANCES

Meryl Streep holds the record for the most nominations in the acting categories, with 21. She and Jack Nicholson – the most nominated male actor with 12 nominations – each have two statuettes for lead acting and one for supporting roles.

Katharine Hepburn won the most Oscars for a performer, with four. Daniel Day-Lewis is the only person to have three best actor Oscars.

In 1964, Sidney Poitier became the first African American to win the Best Actor award, for his role in Lilies of the Field (1963).

Tatum O’Neal won Best Supporting Actress for Paper Moon (1973) when she was only 10 years old, becoming the youngest award winner.

The oldest winner of an acting award was Christopher Plummer, who was 82 when he won his first Oscar for best supporting actor in Beginners in 2012.

Marlee Matlin became the first deaf actress to win an Oscar, for the film Children of a Lesser God in 1987.

Joaquin Phoenix is nominated for Best Lead Actor for Joker. Heath Ledger won a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his portrayal of the same character in The Dark Knight (2008). It’s the first time in history that two different performers have been nominated in two different acting categories for playing the same character.

BEGINNER’S LUCK

Catherine Zeta-Jones’ first nomination at the Oscars resulted in her winning the award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Chicago (2002). Other stars to win first time round include Lupita Nyong’o and Kim Basinger.

Rami Malek’s first nomination came during the 91st Academy Awards. He subsequently won for his portrayal of Queen’s Freddie Mercury in the musical biopic Bohemian Rhapsody (2018).

POSTHUMOUS WINS

Heath Ledger and Peter Finch are the only actors to be awarded an Academy Award posthumously, for The Dark Knight (2008) and Network (1976) respectively.

DIRECTING

Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman in history to win the Best Director award for her film The Hurt Locker (2009).

No women have been nominated in for Best Director the last two years. In the 92 years of Oscar history, the number of female nominees in the category remains at only five.

FILM SPECS

Midnight Cowboy (1969) is the only X-rated film to win the Best Picture award.

At 234 minutes, Gone with the Wind (1939) is the longest of all movies to win the Best Picture award.

SEQUELS AT THE OSCARS

The Godfather: Part II (1974) is the only sequel to have won the Best Picture award.

Other sequels to have earned a Best Picture nomination include The Godfather: Part III (1974), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), Toy Story 3 (2010), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE

Sound engineer Kevin O’Connell held the record for most Academy Award nominations without a win at 20. But the 21st time was the charm in 2017 when he finally won for best sound mixing for Hacksaw Ridge.

Acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins was nominated an astonishing 14 times before finally landing a win in his category for 2018’s Blade Runner 2049. Deakins is nominated again this year for his work on 1917, bringing his record thus far up to 16 nominations and 1 win.

Joker is only the second film based on comic book material to earn a Best Picture nomination. Black Panther (2018) was the first.

STREAMING

Netflix scored two nominations in this year’s Best Picture category, Marriage Story and The Irishman. The streaming service landed its very first nomination in this category at last year’s ceremony with Roma (2018).


Those are some fun facts regarding the history of the Academy Awards. Did you learn anything new? Do you have any fun trivia to add? Sound off in the comments below and let everyone know!

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