The first Oscars were held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on May 16, 1929, as a simple and informal dinner. The ceremony lasted 10 minutes, amidst a crowd of 270 people who each payed $5 for a seat. There was no mystery as to who the winners were, considering that the list was sent to the press three months prior to the event. "The Wings" took first place for best film.
Beginning the following year, and every year to come after that, the winners were announced to the press on the day of the event at 11am. It's only in 1941 that the committee began revealing the winners on stage by reading from sealed envelopes. In 1953, the Oscars were broadcasted on television for the first time. In 1998, during the 70th Oscars, in the same year "Titanic" came out, the audience reached record highs with 5,725 million American viewers.
In order to be selected, a film must have been released in the county of Los Angeles between January 1st and December 31st in the year prior to the ceremony. The elections take two days. During the first, they select nominees, and during the second, they designate the winners.
A nomination and a win grant prestige and recognition from the industry. Needless to say, an Oscar nomination certainly gives way for the nominees to considerably increase their fees, which explains the annual lobbying campaigns introduced by marketing teams responsible for promoting films. Publicity events, exclusive interviews with actors and cocktails are all used to attract votes. However, for the past couple of years, the organizing committee has decided to take control of these practices in order to avoid abusing promotion, and has even implemented sanctions in to avoid the defamation of a film for the profit of others.
The famous statuette given as a prize has not always been called "Oscar". During the first ceremonies, created and hosted by the "Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences", the statuette was simply called an "Academy Award". The term "Oscar" made its first appearance in 1934. The name is controversial; is homage given to the President of the Academy of that era's husband, Bette Davis, or to the uncle of the secretary of the Academy?
Whatever it might be, it is only in 1939 that the statuette is officially baptized as "Oscar". Today, "Oscar" is considered the highest-ranking accolade of Hollywood cinema.