Choosing for Oscar

Choosing Oscar nominees and winners

Over the years, the Academy Awards have had a significant impact on the film industry – often, being nominated for an award boosts profits for both studios and performers. For that reason, studios spend huge amounts each year on marketing and public relations campaigns that they hope will get more votes, despite the Academy’s efforts to stifle the impact of such promotional efforts among its voters. In addition, the Academy strives, with varying degrees of success, to limit voices driven by sentimentality, penance, popularity, prestige, and personal loyalty.

To be eligible for a given year’s Academy Award nominations, movies today must be:

  • Released in Los Angeles (excluding Foreign Film Award contenders) anytime from the midnight strike on the first day of the year before the midnight strike on the first day of the following year. (Before the 5th Academy Awards ceremony in 1934, the eligibility period for movies was the twelve months before July 31 of the previous calendar year. To move to the current and simpler eligibility period of the full calendar year, to be eligible for the 1933 ceremony was based on 17 months rather than 12 months. The period would end on December 31 to begin the next on January 1.)
  • Feature-length – at least forty minutes long (excluding short film award prospects)
  • Filmed on 35mm film, 70mm film, 24 frames per second or 48 frames per second progressive-scan digital cinema, with at least 128-720 native resolution
  • Submitted by a producer before the deadline, using the Official Screen Credits online form to list the production credits for all relevant Oscar categories – if this requirement is not met, films will not be eligible for nomination in a future year
  • Supplemented with English subtitles for foreign language movies, where a particular country submits only one movie per year

Who votes for the Oscars, and how does it work?

After the deadline for submitting the official online screen credit form, each form submission will be reviewed and aggregated into a Reminder List of Eligible Releases, which will be distributed along with the ballots to all eligible members at the end of December, the majority of whom will vote to determine nominees in their respective expertise categories (acting, directing, writing, etc.). Exceptions include nominations for the Foreign, Documentary, and Animated Film categories, determined by special screening committees composed of members from all branches of the Academy. However, all voters can submit nominations for the Best Picture category. After all, nominations have been completed, the second round of voting takes place. All eligible members can vote for most classes at their locations to determine the final winners. Since 1935,  beginning with the 7th Annual Academy Awards, the entire nomination and voting process has been monitored and certified by PricewaterhouseCoopers (formerly known as Pricewaterhouse). Since 1941, with the introduction of the sealed envelope system, they have been responsible for the confidentiality of the envelope’s contents.

Nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with actors making up the largest group of voters, accounting for approximately 22% of the total membership. To become a member, one must receive an invitation from the Board of Directors, on behalf of the Academy Branch Executive Committees, based on a member’s submission in recognition of significant contributions to the film industry or based on a competitive nomination. A lot goes into selecting the Oscar winners, although regular corporate crystal awards for the standard company are also available.

The author of this article is a ten-year veteran of the crystal awards and recognition gifts industry.