The first Academy Awards were given out in 1929 based on voting by members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). What was a private dinner to host the awards ceremony has now become a public spectacle viewed by millions of people each year, in a television show that goes on for longer than three hours.
There are dozens of Oscar categories. Some are obscure and include Scientific and Technical Awards given for complex work like “miniature high-performance DPA lavalier microphones.”
However, the categories the American public knows best are those for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Director, and Best Picture.
Some technical awards have been given to people in their eighties, but the major awards generally go to people much younger. Tatum O’Neal was 10 years old when she won Best Supporting Actress for the film ‘Paper Moon’. which makes her the youngest actress to win one of the major awards.
In the last several years older actors have brought home Oscars. Until recently, the distinction of the oldest winner of one of the major awards was Christopher Plummer for his Supporting Actor win for Beginners which was released in 2010. He won at age 82.
Last year, Plummer was replaced by one of the greatest English-speaking actors of the last several decades. At 83, Anthony Hopkins won the Best Actor Award for his role in The Father, a film in which the main character is in the early stages of dementia.
Now known as Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins CBE, he began working in Hollywood in the late 1960s. Director Richard Attenborough called Hopkins “the greatest actor of his generation.” In 1991, he won his other Oscar as Best Actor portraying psychopath Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs.
Hopkins lives in California but says Wales is his home country.
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