Academy Awards®

Academy Awards®

The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent film awards in the United States and most watched awards ceremony in the world. The Awards are granted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a professional honorary organization, which as of 2003 had a voting membership of 5,816. Actors (with a membership of 1,311) make up the largest voting bloc. The votes have been tabulated and certified by the auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers for 72 years, close to the awards' inception. They are intended for the films and persons the Academy believes have the top achievements of the year.

The official name of the Oscar statuette is the Academy Award of Merit. Made of gold-plated britannium on a black marble base, it is 13.5 inches (34 cm) tall, weighs 8.5 lb (3.85 kg) and depicts a knight holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film with five spokes, signifying the original branches of the Academy: Actors, Writers, Directors, Producers and Technicians. MGM's art director Cedric Gibbons, one of the original Academy members, supervised the design of the award trophy by printing the design on scroll. Then sculptor George Stanley sculpted Gibbons' design in clay, and Alex Smith cast the statue in tin and copper and then gold-plated it over a composition of 92.5 percent tin and 7.5 percent copper. The only addition to the Oscar since it was created is a minor streamlining of the base.