We’ve all wondered what happens behind the curtain of the glamorous, star-studded annual Oscars ceremony. Do attending celebrities just hang out around drinks like long-time friends after the show? How much work does it really take to host it? Does a statuette have a price? Too many questions have crossed our minds and were left unanswered… Which is why, a week ahead of the 90th Academy Awards ceremony (remember to tune in on Sunday, March 4th!), there’s not better time to gain insight into what really happens behind the scenes of the glossy celebration.
Despite what last year’s ‘Best Movie’ ( La La Land vs. Moonlight) embarrassing mishap might have suggested, the coordination of the Oscars is undeniably a well-oiled system. From the voting process, to keeping the nominees entertained, to hosting a 3-hour show, here’s everything you’ve ever wished to know about how the most famous Hollywood event is operated.
How much does it cost to win an Oscar?
Never forget that cinema is also a business (a really, really lucrative one, on top of that). As entertainment reporter Frank Pallotta points out above, “winning an Oscar is just as much about campaigning as it is about performance.” And, even though some glittering A-listers hate to admit it, how much studios spend on marketing can redefine a movie’s chances to actually run for an Academy Award. But it doesn’t always guarantee victory…
How voting works
Hem… Generally an infallible system, voting to select each year’s Oscars recipients is as simple as it is efficient, consistently identifying a clear winner in every category. Handling the envelops flawlessly is another story…
The making of a statuette
13.5 inches long, 8.5 pounds and worth approximately $400, the most recognized trophy in the world is carefully shaped, glossed and polished to give it a shiny, pricey look (true to its original 1929 design) by Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry in New York’s Hudson Valley.
The nomination announcement
The first major part of the process, the nominations announcement is a defining moment for fans as well as artists to find out whose work will be recognized and celebrated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (AMPAS). In the audience, members of the press wait impatiently to report the names of the deserving contenders as the connection with the outside world is for once suspended in order to keep the results — later disclosed by a chosen actor and the Academy President — as confidential as possible.
The nominees lunch
The nominees lunch gathers the crème de la crème of Hollywood in one place for a reception equivalent to a rehearsal dinner. It all starts with a red carpet session demanding the runners to pose for pictures, followed by a few minutes in front of the press. Then, finally, during what remains a private moment, celebrities seat around a table to enjoy a lovely, expensive meal. (Plus, mingling is highly encouraged!)
The red carpet
Probably the most-watched part of the Oscars, the red carpet is a blend of elegance, attractiveness and careful protocol. Set on Hollywood Boulevard, it’s an intricate 500 feet long and 33 feet wide platform that takes over 800 men to put together. Guests arrive in cars and, after going through security (yup, being famous doesn’t allow you to skip the mandatory checkpoint), land in Hollywood nirvana. Involving weeks of preparation, the red carpet is a “controlled chaos” where nominees and guests can sometimes struggle to keep their composure in the midst of overwhelming crowds and screams.
The Oscar show
Then finally comes the time to go live and start the biggest, most anticipated award show of the year. We all know that stage time can be limited for the winners to thank everyone as they cope with an extreme level of surprise and euphoria, so one more opportunity is offered backstage for them to make sure they haven’t forgotten anyone. Next, in a process that can take up to an hour, another photoshoot and press conference follow before they can get back to their seats.
But what about the host? How difficult is it for the person who has been given the responsibility to run the entire night? Our beloved Ellen DeGeneres, who has hosted the ceremony twice (in 2007 and 2014), offered an inside look at what it takes to entertain a jam-packed theatre along with the entire world in a behind-the-scenes video documenting many backstage moments from the ceremony she had the honor to present 4 years ago.
See it as a classy waiting room/exclusive lounge where all the evening’s presenters, performers and nominees can relax away from the cameras. Created by Architectural Digest (which assigns the project to a different designer every year), the greenroom usually includes a comfortable large living room, a bar (because, of course) and a garden where guests can enjoy some peace and quiet while nibbling on some appetizers.
The press rooms
One could imagine that after months of campaigning and answering the same questions over and over on the red carpet would cause nominees to be fed up with the press, but winning an Oscar means you’re far from done being in the spotlight! Out of the stage, where they made a 45-second speech, victors enter the general photo room — a.k.a. “ the craziest room you’ve ever been in” — after what they face around 300 journalists from about 50 countries.
The Governors Ball
Once the show is over, 1,500 guests are invited to celebrate at that one party you wish you could crash: the famous Governors Ball. Taking place in the popular Hollywood & Highland Center, just 20 feet away from the theatre, the exclusive dinner reception gives celebrities the occasion to eat, drink and chat with one another during some well-deserved festivity time. Most importantly, the engraving station is there for that very special moment when names are forever craved into the golden trophies.