The Academy Award is an award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, given annually in the United States for outstanding individual or collective efforts in about 25 categories of film acting and production. The first Academy Awards were presented on May 16, 1929, for the 1927-1928 film year. Among the first winners were Emil Jannings (best actor), Janet Gaynor (best actress), Frank Borzage (best director), and Wings (best film).
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in Hollywood, Calif., in May 1927. Its specific aims are to foster cooperation for cultural, educational, and technological progress in the industry; to recognize outstanding achievements in the industry; to cooperate on technical research and on the improvement of film-making methods and equipment; and to provide a common forum for the various branches and crafts of the motion picture industry.
The presentation of the Academy Awards is the best known of the organization's activities. Balloting for nominations for the awards is restricted in each award category to members of the academy branch concerned. Each of the 13 branches makes five nominations in its field, and the entire academy membership of more than 2,800 persons votes to determine the winner. Balloting is conducted in secrecy, and the results are tabulated by an impartial auditing firm. In addition, there are occasional special awards.
The prize itself, called an "Oscar," is a gold statuette designed by art director Cedric Gibbons and cast by sculptor George Stanley. It received its nickname in 1931, when Margaret Herrick, later executive director of the academy, saw it for the first time and remarked, "Why, he looks like my Uncle Oscar."