The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognise excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors and writers, for the preceding year.
The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on Thursday 16 May 1929, at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to honour outstanding film achievements of 1927 and 1928. It was hosted by actor Douglas Fairbanks and director William C. DeMille.
The Academy Awards traditionally air live in South Africa on one of DStv's movie channels, with a delayed broadcast airing on the same night on M-Net.
The 81st Academy Awards ceremony took place on Sunday 22 February 2009. Held at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California, the awards were hosted by actor Hugh Jackman for the first time.
The 81st Academy Awards aired live in South Africa on DStv's M-Net Movies 1 channel on Monday 23 February 2009, at 03h30. A half-hour live pre-show aired on MM1 from 03h00 until the ceremony began.
The awards ceremony was preceded by E! Entertainment's Live From the Red Carpet coverage, which aired from 01h00-03h00.
A delayed broadcast of the Oscars aired on M-Net on Monday 23 February, at 19h30.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
Stephen Daldry – The Reader
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Gus Van Sant – Milk
Richard Jenkins – The Visitor
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon
Sean Penn – Milk
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married
Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Melissa Leo – Frozen River
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kate Winslet – The Reader
Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin – Milk
Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Michael Shannon – Revolutionary Road
Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – Doubt
Penélope Cruz – Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Viola Davis – Doubt
Taraji P. Henson – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Best Original Screenplay
WALL-E - Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter
Happy-Go-Lucky - Mike Leigh
Frozen River - Courtney Hunt
In Bruges - Martin McDonagh
Milk - Dustin Lance Black
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button - Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
Frost/Nixon - Peter Morgan
The Reader - David Hare
Slumdog Millionaire - Simon Beaufoy
Doubt - John Patrick Shanley
Best Animated Feature
Bolt – Chris Williams and Byron Howard
Kung Fu Panda – Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
WALL-E – Andrew Stanton
Best Foreign Language Film
Revanche (Austria) in German - Götz Spielmann
The Class (France) in French - Laurent Cantet
The Baader Meinhof Complex (Germany) in German
Departures (Japan) in Japanese
Waltz with Bashir (Israel) in Hebrew - Ari Folman
Best Animated Short
La Maison En Petits Cubes - Kunio Kato
Lavatory - Lovestory - Konstantin Bronzit
Oktapodi - Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
Presto - Doug Sweetland
This Way Up - Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes
Best Art Direction
Changeling – James J. Murakami, Gary Fettis
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo
The Dark Knight – Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando
The Duchess – Michael Carlin, Rebecca Alleway
Revolutionary Road – Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt
Changeling – Tom Stern
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Claudio Miranda
The Dark Knight – Wally Pfister
The Reader – Chris Menges, Roger Deakins
Slumdog Millionaire – Anthony Dod Mantle
Best Costume Design
Australia – Catherine Martin
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Jacqueline West
The Duchess – Michael O'Connor
Milk – Danny Glicker
Revolutionary Road – Albert Wolsky
Best Documentary Feature
Nerakhoon (The Betrayal)
Encounters at the End of the World
Man on Wire
Trouble the Water
Best Documentary Short
The Conscience of Nhem En – Steven Okazaki
The Final Inch
The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306
Best Film Editing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall
The Dark Knight – Lee Smith
Frost/Nixon – Mike Hill, Daniel P. Hanley
Milk – Elliot Graham
Slumdog Millionaire – Chris Dickens
Best Live Action Short
On the Line (Auf der Strecke)
Manon On the Asphalt
New Boy (Ireland)
The Pig (Grisen)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Greg Cannom
The Dark Knight – John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O’Sullivan
Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz
Best Original Score
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Alexandre Desplat
Defiance – James Newton Howard
Milk – Danny Elfman
Slumdog Millionaire – A. R. Rahman
WALL-E – Thomas Newman
Best Original Song
"Down to Earth" from WALL-E – Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman (music), Peter Gabriel (lyrics)
"Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire – A. R. Rahman (music), Gulzar (lyrics)
"O Saya" from Slumdog Millionaire – A. R. Rahman and M.I.A.
Best Sound Editing
The Dark Knight – Richard King
Iron Man – Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
Slumdog Millionaire – Tom Sayers
WALL-E – Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
Wanted – Wylie Stateman
Best Sound Mixing
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Mark Weingarten
The Dark Knight – Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
Slumdog Millionaire – Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty
WALL-E – Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt
Wanted – Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño, Petr Forejt
Best Visual Effects
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron
The Dark Knight – Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber, Paul Franklin
Iron Man – John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick, Shane Mahan
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Oscars Red Carpet: Hott Or Not?
About the Awards
Far from the eagerly anticipated and globally televised event it is today, the first Academy Awards ceremony took place out of the public eye during an Academy banquet at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.
Two hundred and seventy people attended the 16 May, 1929 dinner in the hotel's Blossom Room; guest tickets cost $5. It was a long affair filled with speeches, but Academy President Douglas Fairbanks made quick work of handing out the statuettes.
There was little suspense when the awards were presented that night: the recipients had already been announced three months earlier. That all changed the following year, however, when the Academy decided to keep the results secret until the ceremony but gave a list in advance to newspapers for publication at 11 p.m. on the night of the Awards.
This policy continued until 1940 when, much to the Academy's consternation, the Los Angeles Times broke the embargo and published the names of the winners in its evening edition – which was readily available to guests arriving for the ceremony. That prompted the Academy in 1941 to adopt the sealed-envelope system still in use today.
Fifteen statuettes were awarded at the first ceremony for cinematic achievements in 1927 and 1928. The first Best Actor winner was acclaimed German tragedian Emil Jannings, who had to return to Europe before the ceremony.
The Academy granted his request to receive the trophy early, making his statuette the very first Academy Award ever presented.
The first presentation was the only one to escape a media audience; by the second year, enthusiasm for the Awards was such that a Los Angeles radio station produced a live one-hour broadcast of the event. The ceremony has been broadcast ever since.
The Academy continued to hand out the awards at banquets – held at the Ambassador and Biltmore hotels – until 1942, when increased attendance made these dinner ceremonies impractical. Starting with the 16th Oscar ceremony, which was held at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, the event has always been held at a theatre.
In 1953, the first televised Oscar ceremony enabled millions throughout the United States and Canada to watch the proceedings. Broadcasting in colour began in 1966, affording home viewers a chance to fully experience the dazzling allure of the event.
Since 1969, the Oscar show has been broadcast internationally, now reaching movie fans in over 200 countries.