Just what exactly is the Academy??

In response to my earlier post about new members added to the Academy (that is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), I thought I ought to give a bit of a history about the organization that give out the Oscars each year. Thanks Becky for asking me just who are the other members and how do they get to be one, as truthfully, I have NO IDEA. At the beginning of a new year, after the water-cooler talk about new year resolution dwindle, we can always count on the ‘Oscar talk.’ ‘Who’s getting nominated this year? Who gets robbed?’ But just like most people, I usually never paid much attention to who gets to decide all that.

I haven’t been able to find the full list of members, all 6,000 of them, but a sampling of them can be found at the Oscar official site. Here’s the gist of what makes up the elite organization: the members are divided into 15 different categories that contribute to the art form of  film making (actors, directors, cinematographers, songwriters, writers, sound technicians, etc.). Apparently it’s pretty much an elite corporation where the who’s who of Hollywood decides who’s ‘worthy’ to be a part of their über exclusive club. This is right from their site:

Membership in the Academy is by invitation of the Board of Governors and is limited to those who have achieved distinction in the arts and sciences of motion pictures.

A candidate must be sponsored by at least two members of the branch for which the person may qualify. Each proposed member must first receive the endorsement of the branch’s executive committee before his/her name is submitted to the Board.

Ah, now that explains why almost every single time the nominations are announced, we the average moviegoers are left scratching our heads with a big ‘huh?’ written across our faces. Not sure how the additional 134 members are going to change all that, even though at first glance the actors category does seem to represent a pretty diverse mix.

As if the membership process isn’t mind boggling enough, NPR explores the world of how the Oscar voting works here. As the article writer says, it’s all one big mystery and they probably intend to keep it that way.

One thought on “Just what exactly is the Academy??

  1. PrairieGirl

    Thanks for digging up the dish on the Academy. Sounds like a pretty exclusive club to me. I never really did put much stock into nominees and winners to decide what to see, and glad to find my instincts weren’t wrong. By doing some math, 6,000 people divided by 15 categories averages out to 400 votes per category. I’m sure it’s not as cut and dried as that, but 400 elite people deciding the best movie is a little iffy to me. And, according to the NPR article, “it doles out awards for the work its members did the previous year.” So the members only vote on members work? How much of the film industry does this exclude? Not a small number I would venture to guess.

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