Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®
Best Picture Milestones (multi-sectioned)
Academy Awards History (By Decade and Year)
by decade and by individual year. Each year displays the poster for the Best Picture winner.
(Note: This is the production year of the films considered, not the year of the awards ceremony.
For example, the awards ceremony in early 1965 should be referred to as the 1964 Academy Awards)
Background on The Awards:
The Academy Awards®, affectionately known as the Oscars®, are the oldest, best known, most influential, most prestigious, and famous of film awards. The awards (and gold-plated statuettes) have been presented annually (the first awards ceremony was held in May of 1929) by a non-profit professional organization - the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), based in Beverly Hills, California, and founded in 1927. Pricewaterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) has managed the Academy Awards balloting process since 1935 - all but the first six years of the Oscars. Ever since 1941, when their now-famous confidential envelope system was introduced, marking the first year of complete secrecy, "the Envelope Please" has become a familiar phrase that evokes the thought of the Academy Awards® ceremony.
Except for the early years of the institution, the awards honored films made during the previous 12-month calendar year. [At first, to be eligible for an award, a film had to open in Los Angeles during the twelve months ending on July 31 of the preceding year. To allow each ceremony to cover films for a single calendar year - matching the eligibility period, the 1932/33 awards were based on a 17-month qualifying period. Ever since then, beginning with the 1934 awards ceremony, all awards have been based on openings in the previous calendar year. Films also had to be over 40 minutes long to qualify as feature-length.] Until 1954, the Oscars were presented mostly on a Thursday evening. From 1955 to 1958, they were presented on a Wednesday. From 1959 until 1998 the Oscars were, with a few exceptions, presented on a Monday night. Only since 1999 has the Awards ceremony taken place on a Sunday (traditionally in March). In 2004, the ceremony was moved even earlier to improve ratings and to be more relevant to the awards 'season'.
Comments About the Awards Themselves:
The establishment of the Academy (and its awards system) has had a major effect and influence upon the film industry, due to the enormous boost a nomination or award (for a film or actor) creates, by giving prestige and bottom-line profits to a studio or performer. Studios have often engaged in expensive marketing and advertising campaigns to sway votes, and to encourage contractual loyalty during voting. The Academy has, with limited success, tried to limit the influences of pressure groups and promotion, box office gross receipts, and studio public relations and marketing on voting results. It has also attempted to limit votes for melodramatic sentimentality, atonement for past mistakes, personal popularity, and "prestige" or epic scale, but those influences have often had a decided effect upon the outcome of some of the poll results.
Unfortunately, the critical worth, artistic vision, cultural influence, and innovative qualities of many films are not given the same voting weight. Especially since the 80s, moneymaking 'formula-made' blockbusters with glossy production values have often been crowd-pleasing titans (and Best Picture winners), but they haven't necessarily been great films with depth or critical acclaim by any measure. See The Worst Academy Awards Oscars for more.
Like any other awards, recognitions, or "best" lists, the top nominees and winners do not necessarily reflect or objectively measure the greatest that cinematic history has to offer. Many of the most Deserving Films of All Time (see Films Without Awards) did not win Academy Awards® (and in some cases were not even included in the nominees). In addition, Top Box-Office Films aren't always guaranteed awards success either.
And certain Film Genres (notably westerns, science fiction, and comedy) as well as independent films are not represented in balanced numbers throughout Oscar history - see extensive analysis of Best Picture Genre Biases.