Oscar Vocabulary Overview (by Amanda Jones)

Are you going to watch the #Oscars on February 26th? If so, make sure you know the vocabulary you will need to understand the show!

To start, what ARE the Oscars? This event is also called the Academy Awards.

The Academy Awards (Oscars) is an annual awards ceremony that is hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The goal of the event is to recognize and award those who are making excellent films. Winners receive a statue, which is called the “Academy Award of Merit” but nicknamed (and more commonly called) an “Oscar”. This event has been a tradition in the U.S. since 1929.

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Oscars 1929

The Oscar categories are as follows:

  • Best Picture. This is for the overall best film. Note how the word “picture” is used as a synonym for “film” or “movie.”
  • Actor in a Leading Role. This is for the best male actor in a movie that was released this last year. The actor must be the main actor of this movie.
  • Actress in a Leading Role. This is for best female actor in a movie that was released this last year. The actor must be the main actor of this movie.
  • Actor in a Supporting Role. This category is for excellent male actors who did not have the lead role in a movie.
  • Actress in a Supporting Role. This category is for excellent female actress who did not have the lead role in a movie.
  • Animated Feature Film. This is for animated films. If you have children, you probably recognize some of these names!
  • Cinematography. A cinematographer is a person who directs the camera crews for a film. This category is to recognize great camerawork.
  • Costume Design. In this category, great costume design is awarded an Oscar.
  • Directing. They say that a great director is the difference between a good and a bad film. This category gives an award to the man or woman “behind the scenes!”
  • Documentary (Feature) and Documentary (Short Subject). A documentary is defined as a nonfiction motion picture “dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects”. These two categories deal with shorter and longer documentaries.
  • Film Editing. The people behind the computers get credit in this category!
  • Foreign Language Film. The Oscars also recognizes films from other countries or films made in other languages with this category.
  • Makeup and Hairstyling. Even the makeup artists great credit at the Oscars!
  • Music (Original Score). Musicians and composers are nominated in this category. Some soundtracks become classics. Remember Jurassic Park? Or Titanic?

  • Music (Original Song). Sometimes songs are associated with a movie. The songwriters are given tribute for their work here!
  • Production Design. This category recognizes artistic production in film.
  • Short Film (Animated) and Short Film (Live Action). The Academy has different categories for shorter films so that they receive recognition.
  • Sound Editing and Sound Mixing and Visual Effects. Each of these teams has an opportunity for an award for their hard work. The things we take for granted are often complicated (and sometimes ground-breaking)!
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay). If the screenplay came from another source (such as book, a TV show, etc.) then this script is placed in this category.
  • Writing (Original Screenplay). If the screenplay is completely original, then it is placed in this category.

Will you be watching the Oscars? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter (or in the comments of this post). And be sure to check out the Theme Thursday of The Daily Vitamin: this month, the Thursday posts are all about Oscar-related vocabulary!

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