Magazine article American Cinematographer

How "Oscar" Nominees Are Selected and Awards Voted

Magazine article American Cinematographer

How "Oscar" Nominees Are Selected and Awards Voted

Article excerpt

The method by means of which the top artists and craftsmen of the motion picture industry are judged by their peers

Each year, the annual awards presentation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fires the imagination and holds the rapt attention of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world who view the spectacular affair on television.

People understand how the final winners are determined, but the selection of nominees is a source of mystery to almost everyone outside the motion picture industry. Here is how these candidates are chosen:

A reminder list including the casts of all eligible pictures (those shown for a period of at least one week in the Los Angeles area starting in the calendar year 1972) is sent with the nominations ballots to all members of the Academy Actors Branch, who vote in the order of their preference for five acting achievements in four categories: best performance by an actor, best performance by an actress, best performance by an actor in a supporting role and best performance by an actress in a supporting role.

The five achievements in each cate gory receiving the highest number of votes become the official nominations for final voting for the acting Awards.

The determination as to whether a role is a lead or support is made individually by members of the branch at the time of balloting. Rules prohibit a player from being nominated more than once in a single category. In the event two achievements by an actor or actress receive sufficient votes to be nominated in the same category, only the one in which the preferential tabulations process first receives the required number of votes shall be nominated. However, an actor can be nominated in both categories for performances in different films.

Throughout the years. Academy branches have developed rules for voting nominations which seek out the fairest way to honor achievements in their respective fields.

The rules for directors and writers are much like those covering the actors and prevent one individual from being nominated more than once for any single Award. With writers, this rule also applies to teams, although a single writer can be on the ballot as a member of two or more teams.

In the art direction, cinematography, costume design, film editing, music and sound categories, a preliminary ballot is sent to members of the respective branches who select ten achievements for consideration. Following a series of screenings, a nominations ballot listing the ten achievements is again sent to members of the branches who this time vote not more than five, these becoming the official nominations.

Other categories, including documentary films, short subjects, foreign language films, have slightly different rules, again determined by the individual branches or by special committees of experienced experts.

All members of the Academy's 12 branches cast nominating votes for the best picture. The five pictures receiving the highest number of votes become the nominations.

Special awards, such as the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, Thalberg Memorial Award and Honorary Awards, are not voted by the membership, but by the Academy's Board of Governors, composed of two members from each of the 12 branches. This year, the Board voted Rosalind Russell the Hersholt Award, and Edward G. Robinson and Charles Boren, vice-chairman of the board of the Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, Hon- orary Awards. These Awards, and all other Oscars, are presented at the Annual Awards Presentation, held for the past several years in the Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center.

Following the nominations, a series of screenings is conducted for the entire Academy membership, now numbering more than 3,000, at the Academy Award Theater. At the end of these screenings, a final ballot is sent to the entire voting membership who vote the final Awards in every category. …

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