The Academy Awards, or the Oscars as we popularly call them, are perhaps the most prestigious awards that a movie could get. Even getting nominated for one, is something to be proud of. But have you ever wondered how does the Academy work? How does the movie get selected or how the nominations are decided? Well in this article, I try my best to explain what is the Academy, how does the Academy Awards work and their criteria.

how do the academy awards work

The Academy

Why do we call it the Academy Awards though? Well, the Academy is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences. It is a society founded in 1927 and is dedicated to promoting excellence in films. To become a member of society, one must be invited and have demonstrated excellence in the field of theatrical motion pictures. Different branches of the Academy which focus on the different components of films have their own criteria. Before the membership was for life. However now, since 2018 it is for 10 years and subject to renewal if the member remains active. To promote diversity, there are chairs for people of color. All the members of the Academy including actors, directors, cinematographers, etc then cast a ballot. Now you know, why a winner often thanks to the Academy during their speech. They’re actually thanking their colleagues for bestowing this honor upon them.


Any award usually has certain criteria. Similarly, the Academy Awards have a long list of criteria. And failing to meet these criteria is usually why a lot of films fail to garner a nomination. Discussing the technical criteria will no doubt, fly over the head of most readers. Hence here I will discuss the basic criteria that must be present.

  • The film must be over 40 minutes long.
  • Its public premiere should have be in a movie theater.
  • The film should have a release in the previous year.
  • It must have a premiere in 35mm or 70mm film format or in 24-frame,progressive scan digital format.
  • It must be played in an LA County theater with paid admission for 7 days, beginning in the appropriate calendar year.

In the follow-up to this article, I will discuss the procedure that a film must follow for application to the Awards. Along with this, I will explain the actual way the Academy Awards work. And also why, perhaps we need a change.

And if any readers wants to know more about the technical details, click here.

Also, to find out why anime films don’t normally win at Oscars, click here.

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