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According to its website, the Academy is “dedicated to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.” The 87th Academy Awards will take place on Sunday February 22nd 2015 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, which has a capacity of 3,300 seats on Oscar Night. The Academy Awards are also known as the Oscars.
Officially named the Academy Award of Merit, an Oscar is given in recognition of the highest level of achievement in movie making. (The Academy adopted the nickname ‘Oscar’ in 1939, but no one is quite sure where its name originated – there are a few different theories!)
Although it weighs 8½ lbs, measures 13½ inches high, and has a diameter of 5¼ inches, the Oscar statuette stands tall as the motion picture industry’s greatest honour.
MGM art director Cedric Gibbons designed the statuette: a knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader’s sword. It was modelled after director and actor Emilio Fernandez, who posted nude for the design. George Stanley then sculpted Gibbons’ design.
The five spokes of the film reel represent the original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, producers, technicians, and writers. The original statuettes were gold-plated solid bronze, but in today’s Oscar the bronze has been replaced by gold-plated britannia metal. R.S. Owens and Company manufactures the statuettes in Chicago, who spend 3-4 weeks creating 50 statuettes in preparation for the awards ceremony.
The ‘race’ to be nominated consists of attempts by studios, independent distributors and publicists to make sure that each of the nearly 6,000 voting members of the Academy sees their film. It means special screenings for Academy members, free admission to commercial runs of a film, and the mailing of DVDs.
The Academy aggressively monitors Award campaigning and has issued regulations that limit company mailings to those items that actually assist members in their efforts to assess the artistic and technical merits of a film. This year, an Original Song nomination for ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ was rescinded when the Academy discovered that the composer emailed 70 members of the Music Branch of the Academy to make them aware of his submission during the nominations voting period – during which information about the composer and lyricist is to remain anonymous. The composer, Bruce Broughton, breached of the Academy’s promotional regulations, the goal of which is to ensure that “the Awards competition is conducted in a fair and ethical manner.” It was the fifth time an Oscar nomination has been rescinded.
The awards are voted on by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Nomination ballots are mailed to the Academy’s active members in late December. Members from each of the branches vote to determine the nominees in their respective categories – actors nominate actors, film editors nominated film editors, and so on. However, within the Animated Feature Film and Foreign Language Film categories, nominations are selected by vote of multi-branch screening committees. All voting members are eligible to select the Best Picture nominees.
The members fill out the ballot in preferential order (though they are not required to list more than one), and are sent back online (or by mail if requested) to PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international accounting firm, in January. The votes are then counted by hand to prepare a list of nominees. Regular awards are presented for outstanding individual or collective film achievements in up to 25 categories, usually with 5 nominees in each category (up to 10 in the Best Picture category). The nominees are announced each January at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre, located at the Academy’s Headquarters in Beverly Hills. This year, directors Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and actor Chris Pine announced the nominations on Thursday, 15th January 2015.
Final Balloting Process
Final ballots are delivered to voting members in late-January and are due back to PricewaterhouseCoopers the Tuesday prior to Oscar Sunday for final tabulation.
The Academy’s entire active membership is eligible to select Oscar winners in all categories, although in five – Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary Feature, Documentary Short Subject, and Foreign Language Film – members can vote only after attesting they have seen all of the nominated films in those categories.
For all the other awards the winner is the person or film with the most votes, but the winner for Best Picture is the first film to get over 50% of the votes. Like in the system that is used in the nominations, voters rank their choices in preferential order and the films are then eliminated in the same manner that is used for the nominations. Each movie gets its own pile — the film that appears most frequently as a first-place choice will have the largest stack, the movie with the next-most first-place votes will have the second-largest, and so forth. Then each stack is counted.
If one nominee garners more than 50% of the first place votes, it will win Best Picture. If, as is more likely, no nominee reaches this threshold, the tabulators go to the smallest stack remaining, eliminate that movie, remove that stack and go down those ballots to voters’ next-highest choice (of a movie that’s still in the running, of course) and redistribute the ballots across the piles once again. This process of elimination and reapportion continues until one film reaches at least 50% + one vote.
After final ballots are tabulated, only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results until the famous envelopes are opened on stage during the Academy Awards presentation. If a wrong name were to be called, it would be immediately corrected by one of the partners, who would go to the microphone and announce the actual winner.
The awards honour achievements in cinema from the previous year (2014), from on-screen actors to everyone behind-the-scenes. These are the categories:
Actor in a Leading Role
Actress in a Leading Role
Actor in a Supporting Role
Actress in a Supporting Role
Animated Feature Film
Documentary Short Subject
Foreign Language Film
Makeup and Hairstyling
Music (Original Score)
Music (Original Song)
Short Film (Animated)
Short Film (Live Action)
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
Writing (Original Screenplay)
One of the most anticipated and exciting parts of the show is watching the stars arrive at the ceremony and walk down the Red Carpet. People watching at home want to see which stars are attending the event, what they’re wearing, and who they’re with. Most men attending the Oscars wear a tuxedo, and women wear extravagant, elegant dresses. The Red Carpet at the Dolby Theatre is 500 feet long, and is flanked by 700 fan bleacher seats which are allocated through an online global lottery. There are several TV shows and live online reports that show you what’s happening on the red carpet. Check out the printable ‘Red Carpet Bingo’ at the end of this post!
Sometimes you will also see or hear the expression ‘Oscar buzz.’ Here, buzz means ‘what people are talking about.’ Oscar buzz simply means ‘what people are saying about the Oscars’ – who will win, what film will win, etc. On Twitter, #Oscars is used.
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 seventy people attended the May 16, 1929 dinner in the hotel’s Blossom Room; guest tickets cost $5. The first recipient of the statuette was Emil Jannings, who was named Best Actor for his performance in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. However, there was little suspense when the awards were presented that night, as the recipients had already been announced three months earlier.
That all changed the following year, however, when the Academy kept the results secret until the ceremony but gave a list in advance to newspapers for publication at 11 pm on the night of the Awards. This policy continued until 1940 when, much to the Academy’s surprise, 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. Since 2011, Marc Friedland has designed the envelopes and announcement cards bearing the names of each Oscar recipient.
The host of this year’s show is Neil Patrick Harris.
Each award is handed out by a presenter. The presenter is usually another actor. They announce the category and usually say, “And the nominees are…” The presenter will then read the names of the nominees from the Teleprompter.
There is also an In Memoriam segment which honours those who died during the previous year. A committee made up from the Academy weigh in a lot of factors when deciding on who features in the tribute – in particular, their contribution to and achievements in the film industry. The list is passed on to the producers who then commission the commemorative reel. Last year the tribute was presented by Glenn Close, followed by a performance by Bette Midler.
Once the presenter has finished announcing the nominees, he/she then says, “And the Oscar goes to…” or “And the Academy Award goes to…” and opens the envelope to read the name of the winner. The envelope is sealed so that no one knows the winner until that moment! (Only two partners of PricewaterhouseCoopers know the results beforehand.) The winner then comes to the stage to accept his/her award and make a short acceptance speech.
The final award of the night is always Best Picture.
Sources used in composing this guide: oscars.org, oscar.go.com, englishteachermelanie.com, latimes.com, ew.com.
Images: natedsanders.com, Mashable.com.
The 350+ adjectives in the PDFs and slideshow below are compiled to help students expand their vocabulary, in particular when answering questions such as:
“Describe the character of…”
“What sort of person do you think…?”
“What do you learn about the personality of…?”
“What impression do you form of…?”
I’ve detailed collaborative writing, improvisation and story chain activities, as well as a game called ‘Homonym!’, on the ‘Homonym!’ post which can be adapted for use with the adjectives below.
See the captions below each image for details of the PDF.
|List of Adjectives||Table of adjectives with definitions|
|‘Advective!’ Alphabetical||‘Adjective!’ Random|
|‘Adjective!’ Blank||‘Adjective!’ Score Sheet|
The cards will appear in a random order in the slideshow below. Press the pause button to stop the auto-play and use the arrows to navigate between cards.
Useful alternative to printing out the cards, especially if students have their own devices.
Below are six ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ resources, as well as tasks and comparative questions. Although primarily aimed at Junior Cycle students, some of the questions can also be adapted for Senior Cycle students.
Click the images below for separate PDFs or click here for the combined PDF.
1. Based on ONE of the stories, write the post the wolf OR the girl might make on their personal blogs later that day.
2. Re-write the Brothers Grimm’s story from the grandmother’s perspective.
3. Imagine a sequel of Perrault’s tale has been found. Write the text of the uncovered story.
4. Write a modern re-telling of the story of Little Red.
5. You are a journalist investigating reports of ONE of the ‘Little Red’ stories.
(i) Write an article reporting on your investigation of the story. The article can be for a tabloid, broadsheet or online news outlet.
(ii) Write the script of your news report. The script can be for a video or audio recording.
6. You have been asked to direct a short production of ONE of the texts, starting from when Little Red reaches her grandmother’s house. Describe how you would stage the scene. In your answer you may wish to consider some of the following: choreography, costume, dialogue, facial expressions, lighting, props, setting and set design, special effects, stage directions, sound, etc.
7. Little Red’s mother has asked you to help advertise her new book of recipes.
(i) Write the script of a book trailer.
(ii) Design a poster. In your answer, describe and explain your choice of images, colour, etc.
8. The house of Little Red’s grandmother has been put on the market. You are the real estate agent assigned with the task of selling the property. Write the text of the advert you would write.
9. “Fairy tales such as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ present naïve and improbable scenarios, and thus have little or no significance in today’s world.” Write an opinion piece for a popular print or online publication in response to this statement.
1. Describe the effect the rhythm and music create in ‘Hello, Little Girl’.
2. In ‘I Know Things Now’, Little Red Ridinghood states “Even flowers have their dangers” and “Nice is different than good.” What do you think these lines mean?
3. Write a short story inspired by ONE of the following:
(i) “There’s no possible way / To describe what you feel / When talking to your meal!”
(ii) “I should have heeded her advice… / But he seemed so nice.”
(iii) “Down a dark slimy path / Where lie secrets that I never want to know…”
(iv) “Do not put your faith / In a cape and a hood – / They will not protect you / The way that they should…”
(v) “Isn’t it nice to know a lot! / … and a little bit not…”
The text and a recording of Dahl reading the poem can be accessed here.
1. Do you think this would be an enjoyable poem to read aloud? Explain your answer with reference to the poem.
2. What age group do you think this poem is aimed at? Explain your answer with reference to the poem.
3. “… She’s going to taste like caviar.” Compose an alternative ending to the poem, continuing from this line.
4. Compose an acrostic using the words ‘fairy tales’ OR ‘fairy story’.
The text of the poem is available here.
1. Describe the character of the wolf presented in this poem.
2. Write the text of an interview with ONE of the characters from the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’.
3. You have just learned that Little Red Riding Hood’s father has begun to buy pieces of the forest and he intends to can cut it all down to find the wolves. Write the text of a speech defending OR opposing his actions.
4. Write an acrostic using the word ‘interview’.
The text of the poem is available here.
1. Describe the character of the wolf presented in this poem.
2. What do you think is the main message of the poem? Explain your answer with reference to the poem.
3. Imagine you are the wolf of this poem. Write an open letter about your negative portrayal in the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Your letter may reference more than one adaptation of the story.
4. A collection of writings similar to ‘The Wolf’s Postscript’ has been published, featuring the so-called “villain’s” perspective of fairy tales. Select ONE fairy tale and write a submission by the villain of that tale. The submission can be in the form of your own choosing.
5. Write an acrostic using the word ‘postscript’.
1. To what extent are the two texts similar/different? In your answer you may wish to consider the characters, themes, outcomes, etc.
2. Which of the two texts do you prefer? Explain your answer with reference to BOTH texts.
3. Which text, in your opinion, more effectively presents ‘the moral of the story’? Explain your answer with reference to BOTH texts.
1. Do you think ‘Hello, Little Girl’ is a faithful adaptation of Little Red’s encounter with the wolf in the Brothers Grimm’s text? Give reasons for your answer with reference to BOTH texts.
2. “‘I Know Things Now’ and Perrault’s and Grimm’s ‘Little Red’ present lessons to be learned.” Which text, in your opinion, does this more effectively? Explain your answer with reference to all THREE texts.
1. Compare the character of Little Red in BOTH texts.
2. Compare the portrayal of the wolf in BOTH ‘Hello, Little Girl’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf’.
1. Compare the depiction of the wolf in BOTH poems.
2. Which of the two texts do you prefer? Explain your answer with reference to BOTH poems.
1. “We reluctantly feel sympathy for the wolves in both poems.” To what extent do you agree with this statement? Support your answer with reference to BOTH poems.
2. “These poems reveal that Little Red Riding Hood undergoes a significant change after her encounter with the wolf.” Do you agree with this statement? Support your answer with reference to BOTH poems.
1. “Agha Shahid Ali evokes feelings of sadness from his tragic reconstructions of the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood'”. With reference to BOTH poems, describe the feelings are you left with after reading these poems.
2. “In offering a new perspectives on the tale of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, Agha Shahid Ali asks us to reconsider how we traditionally view the characters and morals presented in fairy tales.” Examine this statement with reference to BOTH poems.