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What Are the Oscars?

by Jason Lake
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Oscar Statuette

What Are the Oscars Awards?

Wanna bet on the Academy Awards? Here’s what you need to know about what are the Oscars before you hit up the entertainment betting sites.

It’s almost time for the biggest night in entertainment betting.

The 96th Academy Awards are coming up on March 10, 2024, at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, celebrating the best and the brightest from the silver screen.

It looks like Oppenheimer is about to scoop up all the Oscar trophies, too; at press time, it’s the heavy –1000 favorite on the entertainment odds board at Bovada to win Best Picture, and Christopher Nolan is –3500 to take home Best Director for his work on the film (visit our Bovada Review to learn more).

Most of this year’s Oscar races are much more competitive than that – although it does seem like now, more than ever, the favorites in each category have been established well in advance. Let’s take a moment to look at what the Academy Awards are all about, so we can use that knowledge to make smarter choices with this year’s Oscar odds.

Who Is the Academy?

The “Academy” in “Academy Awards” is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which was formed in 1927 as a company union by MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer. There was talk at the time of holding an annual banquet; that turned into the Academy Awards, which were first held in 1929.

If you were in the room with Mayer at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles back in ‘27, congratulations: You’re a founding member of the Academy. Otherwise, you have to be invited by the Board of Governors to get in. To be eligible for said invitation, you either have to be nominated for an Oscar, or sponsored by two current Academy members. Then you’re in like Errol Flynn.

Oscars 1929

Well, almost.

While Academy memberships are meant to be for life, several people have been expelled over the years – usually for selling their tickets to the Oscars ceremony. Only five people of these people have been outed publicly, and it was for much worse offenses, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Roman Polanski.

What Is #OscarsSoWhite?

America has changed quite a lot since the 1929 Academy Awards. Even 50 years ago, Europeans made up 87.3% of the U.S. population; that was down to 75.5% in 2023, while those with African roots have climbed from 11.2% to 13.6%, and “Other” has jumped all the way from 1.5% to 10.9%.

It’s taking a while for the Academy to catch up.

With membership remaining mostly European in ancestry, the 2015 Oscars saw zero people of color out of the 20 nominated for Best Actor or Best Actress.

That was enough for writer April Reign to come up with the social hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, which went viral and led the Academy to start making some changes.

Their approach was twofold: invite more members to improve the Academy’s diversity, and nominate more people of color (and other minorities, and women). As of 2023, there are some 10,500-plus members in the Academy, which has its headquarters in Beverly Hills; roughly 19% of this year’s nominees are people from “underrepresented groups,” up from 14% last year.

How Do They Vote On The Oscars?

You have to be a member of the Academy to vote on the Academy Awards – although not quite everyone is eligible.

Last year’s voting pool was somewhere short of 9,500.

Your vote is also limited to your area of expertise, of which there are 17 in the Academy (plus a catch-all category for anyone who doesn’t fit). If you’re one of the 1,300-plus members in the Actors branch, you get to vote on Best Actor and such; if you’re from the Music branch, you get to vote on Best Original Score.

Every year, the Academy releases its list of which feature films are eligible for consideration. In theory, this includes every film released in theaters the previous calendar year.

Preliminary voting for the 2024 Oscars began in December 2023, then the Academy released its shortlist of nominees, followed by another round of voting and the eventual announcement of the final nominees, which happened on January 23.

But wait: There’s more.

The final round of voting takes place February 22-27, and then the winners’ names are placed in those hermetically sealed envelopes, to be unveiled on Sunday, March 10. Jimmy Kimmel returns this year to host the Oscars on ABC. And yes, Oppenheimer leads all contenders with 13 nominations.

That’s the Academy Awards in a nutshell!

Now that you’ve got these Oscar fundamentals down pat, you’re ready to hit the entertainment odds board at your favorite sportsbooks and start making your picks. Choose wisely, and may the best movies win.

author avatar
Jason Lake
Jason has been writing about sports betting since 2002. He earned his B.A. in Pacific and Asian Studies from the University of Victoria back in 1997. He has a passion for all things sports betting.

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