How the Oscars Work

By: Melissa Russell-Ausley & Tom Harris

Oscar Categories

The Oscars honor the entire spectrum of filmmaking, from acting to technical achievement. There are now 17 Academy branches in all [source: Oscars]:

  • Actors
  • Casting Directors
  • Cinematographers
  • Costume Designers
  • Designers
  • Directors
  • Documentary
  • Executives
  • Film Editors
  • Makeup Artists and Hairstylists
  • Music
  • Producers
  • Public Relations
  • Short Films and Feature Animation
  • Sound
  • Visual Effects
  • Writers

There are now 24 competitive Oscar® categories, and a handful of special-recognition Oscars every year. This year, awards will be given for [source: Tapley]:


  • Actor in a Leading Role
  • Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Actress in a Leading Role
  • Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Animated Feature Film
  • Best Picture
  • Cinematography
  • Costume Design
  • Directing
  • Documentary (Short Subject)
  • Documentary (Feature)
  • Film Editing
  • Foreign Language Film
  • Makeup and Hairstyling
  • Music (Original Score)
  • Music (Original Song)
  • Production Design
  • Short Film (Animated)
  • Short Film (Live Action)
  • Sound Editing
  • Sound Mixing
  • Visual Effects
  • Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
  • Writing (Original Screenplay)

After all the ballots are in, and the votes are counted, it all comes down to the big night itself. The Oscars is a night of honoring big-budget entertainment, and, appropriately, it is big-budget entertainment event, itself. Every year, hundreds of workers, including carpenters, artists, musicians, cameramen and chefs, work days on end preparing for the big show. The result, in a good year, is a vibrant, glamorous celebration of all things Hollywood.

For much more information about the Oscars and their history, check out the links below.

Oscar FAQ

Will the Oscars happen in 2021?
The 2021 Oscars will take place -- but they've been postponed until April this year.
How much is an Oscar worth?
According to the official Oscars regulations, each statuette is worth just $1. The financial impact on an actor's career, however, can total millions of dollars in potential earnings.
Do you get money when you win an Oscar?
Oscar winners don't get any money for their win, but they do get expensive gift or goody bags that worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in value.
Who has won the most Oscars ever?
Katharine Hepburn has won the most Oscars in history, winning four in total.
Has a horror movie won an Oscar?
A few horror films have won Oscars, including The Silence of the Lambs and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. More recent films, like Get Out, have also won awards -- though not for the top honor of Best Picture.

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, "Oscar Statuette." (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, "Academy Membership." (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Feinber, Scott. "Academy Retains Accounting Firm Despite Oscars Fiasco." Hollywood Reporter. March 29, 2017 (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Jones, Arnold, Wayne. "They Envelope, Please: The Ultimate Academy Awards Trivia Book." Avon. 1999.
  • Live Science Staff. "What's An Oscar Really Made Of?" Feb. 20, 2009 (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Miller, Michael. "Ballot Lessons! A Reminder on How the Oscar Voting System Works After the Best Picture Mixup." People. Feb. 27, 2017 (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Osborne, Robert. "70 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards." Abbeville Press. 1999.
  • Ramisetti, Kirthana. "Oscars 2015: 10 fun facts about Hollywood's biggest awards show." NY Daily News. Feb. 21, 2015 (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Schrodt, Paul. "More than 7,000 people get to vote in the Academy Awards - here's who they are." Business Insider. Jan. 22, 2016 (Jan. 8, 2018)
  • Tapley, Christopher, "Oscar Predictions in all 24 Academy Categories." Variety. Dec, 26, 2017, (Jan. 8 2018)

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