Every year in late February or early March an organization in Hollywood called the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences gets together to honor films from the previous year. This ceremony is called the Academy Awards, and to be recognized by them is the highest praise a film can receive.
The first ceremony in 1929 was a private dinner for 250 people hosted by a movie producer named Louis B. Mayer. The awards proved to be so popular that the ceremony has been broadcast ever since; first on radio then, beginning in 1953, on television.
It is considered a great honor to be nominated for an Academy Award, and a once-in-a-lifetime event for many of the people lucky enough to attend. The nominees get to wear beautiful suits and gowns and walk a red carpet — over 36 million people worldwide watched the 2009 ceremony, so you can imagine how nervous and excited the nominees might have been!
Who is Oscar?
You may have heard both the statuettes the Academy gives as prizes and the ceremony itself referred to as "The Oscars"...but who is this Oscar anyway? It's hard to say, since the popular nickname has been around almost as long as the awards have! An actress named Bette Davis claimed in 1936 that she named the statue after her husband, while Walt Disney called his "Oscar" as a joke after he won one in 1932.
However, popular legend says that Margaret Herrick, a librarian and director at the Academy, saw the statuette in 1931 and said that the little bald guy looked just like her Uncle Oscar! A journalist happened to be in the same room and, when writing about the awards, referred to them as such — the nickname caught on, and the Academy finally made it official in 1939.