Academy Awards VS Oscars

Oscars Vs. The Academy Awards: Are They The Same Thing? The History Behind The Monikers

Academy AwardsAn Oscar statuette stands outside the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles at the 2014 Academy Awards. Photo: Rebecka Schumann

The 87th annual Academy Awards take place Sunday. But for some, the event is more commonly known as the Oscars. What’s the difference, you ask? For viewers stumped at home, we have your answer!

The Academy Awards is an annual event put on by the Academy of Motion Pictures Art and Sciences. The academy, which is made up of more than 7, 000 elite filmmakers and film professionals, vote on the winners for each category ahead of each year's ceremony. Despite the show having two titles, there is actually no difference between the Oscars and the Academy Awards. Oscar is merely a nickname for the Academy Award. The official name for an academy trophy is the Academy Award of Merit.

How did the Oscar moniker come about? While the actual history behind its origin isn’t completely clear, the academy reports Margaret Herrick, the academy’s librarian and executive director, is responsible. After seeing the award for the first time, Herrick is rumored to have shared her thought that the statue resembled her Uncle Oscar. The statue - created by MGM 's late art director Cedric Gibbons - is actually of a “knight standing on a reel of film gripping a crusader’s sword.”

The term Oscar was first used by the press in an article regarding Katharine Hepburn’s best actress win for "Morning Glory" in 1934. The academy adopted the Oscar nickname several years later in 1939, a decade after holding the first show in Los Angeles in 1929.

But it’s not just the difference between the Oscars and the Academy Awards that confused film-loving audiences. During awards season, it’s common for viewers to confuse the Academy Awards with the Golden Globe Awards. While both ceremonies honor the best in film, take place in Los Angeles, have similar nominees and occur at the beginning of each year, they’re vastly different. The Golden Globes are put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The Globes also honors the best in television, which unlike the Academy Awards, exclusively recognizes work in film.

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