The Academy Awards Ceremony is arguably the most important awards show in the entire entertainment industry. Each year celebrities flock to the ceremony to witness the recognition of the biggest names in the film industry, while viewers at home tune in by the millions to see their favorite actors and actresses on the red carpet. The 91st Academy Awards presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were held in Los Angeles on February 24, 2019, and while the event saw the usual fanfare on the red carpet prior to the show, viewership figures for the ceremony were less than impressive. Bohemian Rhapsody brought home the highest number of awards with a total of 4, and Rami Malek took home the coveted Best Actor for his portrayal of Freddy Mercury.
The history of the awards dates back to 1929 when the silent war film ‘Wings’ won the Oscar for best picture, and throughout the years since, generations of actors have earned fame and recognition through the Academy’s influence. Katherine Hepburn is the only person to ever win 4 Oscars, all of which were awarded in the ‘Best Actress’ category. Meryl Streep has earned the most nominations by far, with her total of 21 nominations greatly exceeding the next highest total. Despite the obvious talent and skill of women like Katherine and Meryl, a disturbingly small amount of the film industry is made up of women. Only 20 percent of Best Director nominees are women alongside only 11 percent of writing nominees. In total, an unbelievable 77 percent of non-acting Academy Award nominees are male, again displaying the massive discrepancies in opportunities for female members of the film community. In addition, 84 percent of Academy Awards voters are white, meaning that minority groups are also underrepresented at the awards.
The key challenge that the Academy faces in the coming years is not related to viewership, but to the perceived discrimination within the industry. The figures are quite clear that changes must be made in order to foster gender and racial equality, and it is up to the Academy to take the necessary steps to ensure that this issue is fixed in the coming years. Given the ever-increasing financial success of the ceremony, the awards certainly do not lack the financial ability to improve the ceremony and drive the Oscars to continued success in the future.
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