34 centimeters high, the golden statuettes of the Oscars are the greatest awards in cinema. Each year, they are awarded to the best films, the best actors, the best directors by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, since the first edition in 1929. A look back at the history of this ceremony in 20 significant dates.
1934: The Academy Awards become the Oscars
It was Walt Disney who first used the term “Oscars” when he received a statuette for “The Three Little Pigs”. The ceremony will thus be renamed, previously called “Academy Awards” in reference to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences association which organizes it. The creator of Mickey Mouse has received 26 awards over his entire career, all categories combined. Plus seven mini-Oscars given to him in 1939 when he was awarded for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.
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1935: A Frenchie in the United States
Claudette Colbert is the first Frenchwoman, even if she is a naturalized American, to win the Oscar for best actress for her role in “New York-Miami” by Frank Capra. Simone Signoret received it in 1960, for “Les Chemins de la Haute Ville”, by Jack Clayton, and Marion Cotillard in 2008, for “La Môme”, by Olivier Dahan.
1940: First black actress awarded
Hattie McDaniel is the first black actress to win an Oscar. She won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance in “Gone with the Wind”, by Victor Fleming, a film that broke the record for statuettes with 10 awards
1961: “Once upon a time in Hollywood”
Elizabeth Taylor wins her first Oscar (she will receive three in total) for her role in “La Venus au vison”, by Daniel Mann, against a backdrop of scandal: the actress had an affair with Eddie Fisher while he was married to the popular Debbie Reynolds. The actor finally divorced to marry Elizabeth Taylor in 1959. But the public takes a dim view of their relationship, and ticks when they play together in “La Venus au mink”. Affected by pneumonia, Elizabeth Taylor regains the sympathy of the spectators. It is short of breath, still not cured of her illness, that the actress goes on stage to collect her reward.
Marlon Brando refuses his Oscar
1964: Oscars (not) so white?
Sidney Poitier, for his role in “Le Lys des Champs”, by Ralph Nelson, is the first black actor to receive the Oscar for best actor. It was only 38 years later that another black actor received the same award: Denzel Washington for “Training Day” in 2001. The following year, Sidney Poitier received the honorary Oscar.
Unprecedented surprise: by opening the envelope, Ingrid Bergman could not hide her amazement… two actresses won ex-aequo the Oscar for best actress. Katharine Hepburn for “The Lion in Winter” and Barbra Streisand for “Funny Girl”. Only the second will go on stage to make a speech, Katharine Hepburn being absent (as at each Oscar ceremony).
1973: Like in a Western with John Wayne
When the Oscar for best actor is awarded to Marlon Brando for his role in “The Godfather”, by Francis Ford Coppola, it is not the actor who appears on stage but the activist Sacheen Littlefeather. “I am representing Marlon Brando tonight, and he has asked me to tell you…that he regrets not being able to accept this generous award. The reason: the movie industry’s treatment of American Indians. Later, she will comment on this moment as follows: “John Wayne was ready to take me off stage at any time”.
Read also : In pictures: The winners of the 2018 edition
1986: My Feather Thing
Feathers and sequins. As she presented the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Cher caused a stir in an extravagant outfit. “As you can see, I have received the Academy brochure explaining how to dress like a serious actress,” she commented with humor.
1993: Banned for life…until the next ceremony
As they presented the Oscar for best editing, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins took advantage of the platform offered by the ceremony to question the treatment of HIV-positive people in Haiti. Which didn’t really please the Academy, which banned them for life… Finally, until 1996 for Susan Sarandon, who was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress, and until 2004 for Tim Robbins, nominated for the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. During the same evening, Richard Gere also addressed a political subject close to his heart: the invasion of China in Tibet. Immediate ban. But nothing explains why the actor was finally able to attend the ceremony in 2003 or even in 2013.
Angelina Jolie kisses her brother on the red carpet
1995: Never two without three?
In 1994, Tom Hanks received the Oscar for best actor for his role in “Philadelphia”, by Jonathan Demme. The following year, he was again named, for “Forrest Gump”, by Robert Zemeckis. And he wins. In 1999, he was still nominated for the film “Saving Private Ryan”, by Steven Spielberg, but it was Roberto Benigni who won.
1998: King of the Oscars
“I am the king of the world,” shouts James Cameron on the Oscars stage as he wins the statuette for best director for “Titanic”. That night, the film won 11 Oscars (except Best Actor for Leonard DiCaprio…), equaling the record for “Ben Hur” in 1960.
1999: Out of control
While he won the Oscar for best actor for “Life is beautiful”, Roberto Benigni does not hide his euphoria. He climbs onto the red seats of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (with the help of Steven Spielberg) and raises the high point, then jumps from seat to seat to join the aisle which brings him to the stage. His film also won the award for best foreign language film.
2000: Brother and sister
Strange moment: on the red carpet of the Oscars, Angelina Jolie kisses her brother, James Haven, who accompanies her. During her acceptance speech for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for James Mangold’s ‘A Stolen Life’, she said, “I’m shocked and in love with my brother right now… He hugged me and told me he loved me and I know he’s happy for me.
2003: Stolen Kiss
At 29, Adrien Brody is the youngest actor to win the Best Actor Oscar for his role in Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist”. In shock, he goes on stage and… kisses Halle Berry, who was about to give him the statuette. Later, the actress says that she did not understand what was happening, but let herself go, knowing the uncontrollable emotion that the awarding of an Oscar gives (she was crowned best actress for “In the Shadow of Hate” in 2002).
When Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty announce the wrong winner
It took until the 83rd Academy Awards before the word “fuck” was uttered. The culprit: Melissa Leo, overcome by emotion, as she receives the Oscar for best supporting role for “The Fighter”.
2012: French Cancan
Jean Dujardin is the first Frenchman to receive the Oscar for best actor, for his (silent) role in “The Artist”, by Michel Hazanavicius. The film is also awarded the most prestigious statuette: best film, a first for a French feature film.
2013: Falling ovation
And this is the downfall. Jennifer Lawrence, crowned best actress for her role in David O. Russell’s “Hapiness Therapy”, trips in her dress as she takes the stage. Aided by Hugh Jackman, she finally reached the lectern to a standing ovation, and joked, “You’re all up just because you feel bad that I fell.” Then adds: “It’s embarrassing…”
2014 : “Best picture ever“
“If only Bradley Cooper’s arms were longer…Best picture of all time”, comments Ellen DeGeneres who presented the Oscars in 2014. The host, with the help of the actor, took the selfie bringing together the most stars and the most retweeted in history. Pictured: Bradley Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres, but also Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong’o and Julia Roberts.
2017: Envelope problem
The announcement of Best Picture is the high point of Oscar night. And Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty found a way to make the suspense last a few more minutes: announce the wrong winner. It is not “La La Land”, by Damien Chazelle, which wins the prestigious statuette but “Moonlight”, by Barry Jenkins. The error comes from a problem of envelope: it is that of the best actress, Emma Stone, which was given to the two presenters. “I’m sorry, there is a mistake. “Moonlight” is you who won”, rectifies the producer of “La La Land”, Jordan Horowitz.
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Once upon a time… The Oscars