The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are the most prestigious and popular film awards. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science or AMPAS situated in Beverly Hills, California started it in May 1929. PricewaterhouseCoopers since 1935 have managed the balloting process. In 1941 the confidential envelope system started which exists till this date. This was how the phrase "the envelope please" became famous. The members of this academy are invited by the Board of Governors to join. The membership has fifteen branches each based on the different categories of awards.
The gold plated statuettes are also presented as the Academy Award of Merit. It has a black metal base and weights 8.5 lb and 13.5 inch tall knight holding a crusader's sword standing over a film reel with five spokes, which represent the five main categories of awards. It was created by George Stanley and Alex Smith and since then the Oscars have been manipulated only once. Forty Oscars are made for each annual Academy Awards in Chicago, Illinois. They are presented every year for movies, which have been produced in the last twelve months. The seventeen-month qualifying period was introduced to consider films released in a single calendar year in the year 1932. And since then this time period has been taken into consideration. The minimum length of the movie should be forty minutes and the minimum resolution should be 1280x720 so as to qualify as a feature-length.
The Academy Awards were held on Thursdays until 1954. From 1959 - 1998 they were held on Mondays except for few exceptions. It started to be held on Sundays from 1999. For nearly sixty years the Academy Awards were held in later March or early April. Since 2004 it is being held in late February or early March. The very first awards ceremony was held at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood. The Ambassador Hotel and Biltmore Hotel were the venues till early 1940s. Next venue was Grauman's Chinese Theater, which was followed by the Shrine Auditorium. In 1949 the awards were presented at the Academy Award Theater. For the next ten years the venue was Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Next in line was Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica. Then the ceremony was shifted back to Los Angeles in 1968 at the Los Angeles Music Center and Shrine Auditorium and it was held there until 1988. In 2002 it was finally shifted to Kodak Theater in Hollywood.
Oscars recognizes talents in field such as acting, screenwriting, production, direction and technician. The awards categories can be broadly described as Best Production award, Best Director award, Best Actor award, Best Actress award, Best Supporting actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Screenplay award. The only three movies that have won awards in all the categories are "It Happened One Night"," One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "The Silence of the Lambs". This achievement is also known as the Big Five or Oscar Grand Slam. Three films hold the record for winning most number of Oscars, which are "Ben-Hur" in 1959, "Titanic" in 1997 and "The Return of the King" in 2003. On the awards night, invitees walk the red carpet in their best dresses, which create a fashion statement. The whole ceremony is broadcasted live on television all over America except Hawaii and Alaska, the first ever broadcast was in 1953 on NBC channel. There are performances by the nominees of the Best Original Song category and countless other performances. The telecast attracts over a billion viewers from all over the world as claimed by the Academy.