IT IS the glitziest night of the year in Hollywood, a time of winners, losers, glamour, razzle-dazzle, overlong speeches, mutual backslapping and monumental hype.
It is the Oscars, the annual Academy Awards ceremony, first presented in 1929 as a quiet five-minute ceremony at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood, and which has grown to become a huge, flamboyant, publicity-guzzling jamboree that lasts several weeks.
Viewed by some as an over-amplified publicity stunt, by others as something of a sacred ritual, the grand event will be back in the swirling spotlights again at the weekend (3.30am to 7am SA time on Monday) when it will be shown live on DStv’s M-Net Movies Premiere and have a repeat screening on M-Net at 8.30pm on Monday.
Also scheduled for DStv is Live from the Red Carpet: Academy Awards, on E! Entertainment at 11.30pm on Sunday, which promises the inside scoop on the Oscar nominees, presenters and other ceremony guests as they arrive for the event.
Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic will report live from the red carpet, with all the latest gossip and fashion updates.
This year’s Oscars ceremony, to be hosted for the first time by comedian Seth MacFarlane, is of historical note for having both the youngest and oldest nominees ever up against each other for the golden statuette for best actress.
Quvenzhané Wallis, nominated for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, was only six when she made the movie and is now nine.
Her main rival for the award is Emmanuelle Riva, nominated for Amour, who is the oldest nominee for best actress at 85 – and turning 86 on Oscar night!
Both Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild are among the nine films nominated as best picture this year. The others are Argo, Django Unchained, Les Misérables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.
The oldest person to actually win an Oscar for best actress is Jessica Tandy who, at the age of 80, collected it in 1989 for Driving Miss Daisy. The youngest is deaf actress Marlee Matlin, who took the award for her big-screen debut in Children of a Lesser God in 1986, when she was 21.
The youngest winner of an acting award is Tatum O’Neal who was 10 when she took the best supporting actress statuette in 1973, for her performance in Paper Moon.
The youngest winner of an Oscar is Shirley Temple who, in 1934, when she was six, took the inaugural, and now dropped, non-competitive Academy Juvenile Award.
Three films share the record for receiving the most Academy Award statuettes. Each won 11 Oscars. They are 1952’s Ben Hur, nominated for 14 Oscars; 1997’s Titanic, which had a dozen nominations; and 2003’s Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King, which won every category in which it was nominated. West Side Story, a 1961 success, has 10 Oscar wins, and is among only nine musicals that have taken the coveted Oscar for best picture. The others are The Broadway Melody (1929), Going My Way (1944), An American in Paris (1951), Gigi (1958), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), Oliver! (1968) and Chicago (2002).
Interestingly, Bob Fosse’s acclaimed 1972 hit, Cabaret, took eight Oscars, but not for best picture. It holds the record for the most Oscar wins without winning the award for best picture.
Titanic and the 1950 film All About Eve share the record for most nominations for a film, a total of 14.
The first black person to win an Oscar for acting was Hattie McDaniel, for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind in 1939.
The only other black actress who has won in this category is Whoopi Goldberg, for Ghost in 1990.
Sidney Poitier was the first black winner of the best actor award, for Lilies of the Field in 1963, and Denzel Washington has also won in this category for his role as a bad policeman in Training Day.
The year Washington won, 2002, was also of note in that the best actress award went to Halle Berry for Monsters Ball, making her the only black woman to win this coveted statuette.
Washington also has a best supporting actor Oscar for his role as a soldier in 1989’s Glory.
He is among only three black actors to win in this category, the others being Louis Gosset jr for An Officer and a Gentleman in 1982 and Cuba Gooding jr for Jerry Maguire in 1989.
Meryl Streep, who has three Oscar wins (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice and The Iron Lady), has had 17 nominations, making her the most nominated person in acting categories.
The record for most wins for acting is held by Katharine Hepburn, who won four best actress Oscars and had 12 nominations. She won for Morning Glory (1932/33), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967), The Lion in Winter (1968) and On Golden Pond (1981).
Nine actors have won two Oscars for best actor: Spencer Tracy, Frederic March, Gary Cooper, Marlon Brando, Dustin Hoffman, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day-Lewis and Sean Penn.
The person with the most Oscar nominations, a total of 59, is Walt Disney. He won 22, four of them honorary awards.
And as for the losers, holding the record for most nominations but not a single win are Steven Spielberg’s 1985 drama The Color Purple and the 1977 ballet film, The Turning Point. Both received 11 nominations.
Popular stars who have never won an Oscar include Tom Cruise, Richard Burton, Albert Finney, Cary Grant, James Dean, Steve McQueen, Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford, Deborah Kerr, Greta Garbo and Marilyn Monroe. - Mercury News