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01192014-1 What makes a movie award-worthy? Is it movies that make you laugh out loud? (Not a little computer LOL but snorting, belly-laughing, for real out loud.) Is it movies that make you say, “Whoa!”? Is it movies that make you smile all day, or movies that make you think? Is it movies that most effectively transport you to another time or place or into a character’s shoes? What movie would you nominate as the best ever? Why do you consider that movie ‘the best?’

01192014-2 Each January, Hollywood starts buzzing with best movie predictions. This is because the Academy Awards, aka The Oscars, the most anticipated and prestigious movie award is just around the corner. On Thursday, January 16th, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) announced the nominees for the 86th Academy Awards. Who is this Academy and what is behind its coveted award? This week we pull back the curtain and investigate Hollywood’s most illustrious accolade.

The Academy—

01192014-3 “The Academy.” It sounds very mysterious, like a shadowy club of scientists or rainmakers. Who exactly are the members of “The Academy” and how do they become members? Meet some Academy members and discover the Academy’s 16 general areas or types of work members do. Anyone can not be a member; learn who is invited to become a member and about the membership process. The Academy began, like many organizations, with a few people and a vision. Read more about the beginning of the AMPAS and the Academy Award.

01192014-4 The Academy Awards are the ones the world watches, but AMPAS bestows several other awards too. The Governors Awards, which include a humanitarian award, and honorary Oscars, were given in November to Angelina Jolie, Piero Tosi, Steve Martin, and Angela Lansbury. The science and technical awards will be shared in mid-February.

The Oscar—

01192014-5 Each year, the members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) cast their votes for the best work in movies. It is the organization’s way of honoring members whose film work has been exemplary. The Academy Awards rivals a Presidential election in publicity vigor as movie studios and publicists encourage members to see their film and to cast their vote for it. The Academy Awards are big business--both for nominees and for winners. Actors who win an Oscar will forever be known as Joe Smith, Academy Award winner. Ticket sales for nominated and winning films experience a resurgence. To protect the sanctity of the Award, there are extensive rules to guide which films are eligible and the voting process.

The best actor, best actress, and best film categories are the ones that keep millions of worldwide viewers awake way past their bedtime. But the Awards honor more than Hollywood stars. The 24 current Oscar categories honor technical skills, and artistic talents as well as performances. What additional Oscar categories would you suggest the Academy consider?

01192014-6 Perhaps the most famous thing about the Academy Awards is the golden statue given to all winners. The small statue is commonly called the Oscar. Why not the Jonathon, the Michael, or the Edward? Learn more about the statue that honors winners and its nickname.

2014 marks the 86th Academy Award.  Scroll back through time to the first Academy Award in 1929. Use the ‘next’ button in the bottom right corner to progress through the years. As you travel through time, read how the number and categories of awards given changed.

The 86th Academy Awards—

So who was nominated last week? Watch the announcement of the nominees. Then, watch trailers that highlight each nominee.

01192014-8 The 86th Academy Awards will be awarded on March 2, 2014 at 7PM EST. It will be an entertaining, unpredictable evening. Millions of viewers tune in to see who will win, yes, but also to see what people wear, and to hear what winners will say. While you wait, revisit the best of the red carpet from last year. Watch videos of the most touching moments, 5 Oscar surprises, and the funniest moments. Traditionally, the Academy Awards ceremony includes a look back at the Academy members who have died that year. View a preview list of who will be remembered this March. If all this has not quenched your interest in all things Oscar, try the 20 best Academy Award and Oscar infographics.