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How does a film win an Oscar?

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The Oscars
The Oscars -
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REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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We all know the Oscars — well, the Academy Awards — but how does it actually work?

The ceremony of the world’s leading film organisation, the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Sciences, was first held in 1929. It took another decade for the "Oscar" nickname to appear.

Academy members vote for the best in 17 sections: actors and directors, but also makeup, sound effects and editing.

A film must meet many criteria to be considered worthy of an Oscar nomination. It has to be longer than 40 minutes and meet the Academy's technical requirements, be released during the previous year and shown in a commercial theatre in the US County of Los Angeles for at least a week while being advertised “in a manner normal and customary to theatrical feature distribution practices”. Only if it meets all these criteria can the film be submitted, and if accepted, the film will feature on the Reminder List of Eligible Releases, which is then sent by the Academy to its voting members.

Voting members nominate five films within their own field of expertise: directors, for instance, can nominate for the Best Director category.

All the votes then go to PricewaterhouseCoopers consulting company (PWC), which crunches the numbers and release the final ballot of five nominees for each category. The Best Picture category can get up to 10.

The members then vote again, and the results are sealed in an envelope until the night of the ceremony.

But the Academy critically lacks diversity: its members are 94% Caucasian, 77% male and with a median age of 62. This makes for the vast majority of Academy members who are old, white men and often vote accordingly.

"Oscar baits" — films who are clearly designed with the Oscars in mind — have often won over more artistically interesting or groundbreaking movies.

This year, the Academy thought of inaugurating a new category for "popular film", but then abandoned the idea.

This year, the nominees for the Best Picture category are Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, The Favorite, Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, Green Book, Vice and Roma.

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