The 88th annual Academy Awards, or the 2016 Oscars, are this Sunday, and for some, that can be confusing. Before the public finds out if Leonardo DiCaprio wins his first Oscar, which film walks away with Best Picture and how Chris Rock holds up as host, let’s break down the difference between the two names.
Long story short: the Academy Awards and the Oscars are the same thing, but there’s more to know. To get an in-depth lesson in the back story, you’ll have to take a brief trip into the past.
The idea for the International Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, now the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, came about in 1927. It was during a dinner at then-MGM Studio Chief Louis B. Meyer's home that guests discussed creating a group to benefit the film industry and inviting creative branches from all branches of the industry to participate. The first Academy awards ceremony was held two years later May 16, 1929, in Los Angeles. As for the name Oscars, it’s all about the trophies.
Shortly after the organization’s conception, a meeting was held to discuss how to honor those whose filmmaking achievements deserved recognition. When the group agreed an award was the best route, they set out to create a “suitably majestic trophy,” according to the academy's records. MGM Art Director Cedric Gibbons designed the statue that remains today, and sculptor George Stanley brought it to life.
While it is more common to call the statue, which is given to each season’s winners, an Oscar, its official name is the Academy Award of Merit. However, it isn’t completely clear how the nickname came about. The Academy reports that the origins “aren’t clear,” and the most popular fable is that Margaret Herrick, who started off at the Academy librarian and later became the permanent executive director in 1946, made it up after stating the knight standing atop the film reel “resembled her Uncle Oscar.” The nickname was published in a piece regarding Katharine Hepburn’s acting win for “Morning Glory" in 1934, and the rest is Hollywood history.
Bottom line, whether you prefer to call Sunday’s event the Oscars or the Academy Awards, you’re in the clear. Click here for more fun facts about the 2016 Oscars.
The 88th annual Academy Awards airs Sunday at 8:30 p.m. EST on ABC.