Home Museum institution The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures tells the story of the Oscars

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures tells the story of the Oscars



At the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, 20 major Oscars are featured in the ‘Academy Awards History’ gallery, which is housed in the magnificent golden rotunda of the Saban Building, formerly known as the May Company ‘lipstick’. Building on Boulevard Wilshire. The real statuettes are displayed in a display case. But perhaps the most remarkable is the one missing from this collection.

Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to win an Oscar, for Best Supporting Actress for “Gone with the Wind” (1939), but her trophy was lost. It’s a heart-wrenching story shrouded in a web of suspicion and ongoing legal battles. Before McDaniel died of breast cancer in October 1952, she made it clear that her award should go to Howard University. There are countless myths about where this could be. Was it destroyed by racists? Or just strayed from McDaniel’s real estate sale? Regardless of the location of its Oscar, the museum wants to honor its legacy.

Doris Berger, senior director of conservation affairs, said executives knew early on they wanted to showcase McDaniel’s legacy. “The key for us was a wide array of performances that we would like to have seen in this piece,” says Berger. “It relates to race, gender, identity, sexual orientation, as well as craftsmanship.”

Courtesy of Joshua White / © Academy Museum Foundation

For years, the Academy’s fetish project seemed to teeter on the brink of uncertainty, as its budget soared to nearly $ 500 million (in typical Hollywood fashion, that’s $ 100 million more). than originally planned). AMPAS, the ultimate Hollywood achievement entity, is finally opening its COVID-delayed museum to the public (admission is $ 25 per adult and free for minors). While it’s still not clear if anyone outside of the greater Los Angeles area will make this a must-see destination, the Academy’s continued outreach to underserved communities and educational programming are symbols of hope that the invitation to be part of the films will be received. As with all public art institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has focused the museum’s concerns on how patrons and visitors can safely enjoy this rich history. Management is satisfied that all appropriate precautions have been taken.

With the Oscars, AMPAS has excelled in building a brand synonymous with the highest honor in Hollywood. While not without its fair share of controversies, unflattering hashtags, and battles among its members and leaders, the Academy is still the industry’s gold standard (so to speak). The Museum of Motion Pictures is the organization’s clearest gesture to the general public: come in and show your love for films. With an extensive collection of memorabilia and artifacts, the museum is ready to reflect and look to the future of cinematic milestones.
In “Academy Awards History”, an opulent and lively exhibit that is part of the inaugural “Stories of Cinema” exhibit, the two adjacent rooms contain 20 of the most notable wins in Oscar history, a wraparound screen displaying 27 clips video of stories Oscar speeches, dresses worn by laureates Cher and Rita Moreno, Paul Newman’s watch and a timeline that highlights key Academy moments from 1927. It’s like a reel of music videos which brings to life some of the greatest features associated with the 93-year-old organization.

In the rotunda, a golden aura fills the room, and a circular red chair in the middle greets visitors. Walking in and seeing what appear to be identical Oscar statuettes in 20 storefronts in a row can be misleading to the naked eye. However, on closer inspection you can discern the slight variations in the plating of the numbers. In addition, you notice the wear and tear of the individual statuettes, which comes from the multiple people allowed to touch them. And you can observe the physical evolution of the figure, from Charles Rosher’s victory in cinematography for “Sunrise” (1929) to the price of Barry Jenkins’ adapted screenplay for “Moonlight” (2016). And that’s without going into any of the symbolic meanings associated with the trophy.

On the bill, the Oscars of Photography for Rosher for “Sunrise”, Best Actress for Mary Pickford for “Coquette” (1929), Best Actor for Clark Gable for “It Happened One Night” (1934), Color Art Direction for Cedric Gibbons for “The Yearling” (1946), supporting actor for Harold Russell for “The Best Years of Our Lives” (1946), story and screenplay for Billy Wilder for “Sunset Boulevard” (1950), Herbert Bragg’s Scientific and Technical Award (Class I) in 1953, cut for Adrienne Fazan for “Gigi” (1958), best actor for Sidney Poitier for “Lys of the Field” (1963), feature documentary for Barbara Kopple for “Harlan County, USA” ( 1976), sound effects visual for Richard Edlund for “Star Wars” (1977), sound effects editing for Charles L. Campbell for “ET The Extra-Terrestrial” (1982), original song for Buffy Sainte-Marie for “An Officer and a Gentleman ”(1982)), feature documentary for Robert Epst ein for “The Times of Harvey Milk” (1984), costume design for Eiko Ishioka for “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992), foreign language film for “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), animated feature for Aron Warner for “Shrek” (2001), direction for Alfonso Cuarón for “Gravity” (2013) and screenplay adapted for Jenkins for “Clair de lune”.

Dedicated to the historical, scientific and cultural impact of the industry, the museum is the first large-scale institution of its kind in the United States, holding more than 13 million objects, including costumes, props, reels movies and more. In addition, the second and third floors house the opening exhibition “Movie Stories”, which features multiple themes, such as Spike Lee influences, how documentaries and narrative films reflect and impact social issues and more. particularly, the history of the Academy. Rewards.

The selection of Oscars on display is not permanent. There are so many more stories than the ones chosen for the opening exhibit. While particular category winners are represented, there have been internal debates over whether to include all of the nominees and Oscar snobs agreed upon over the years; these did not finally reach the corridors but are addressed in the text of the table in the speech room.

At 13.5 inches tall and around 8.5 pounds, the Oscar sums up a lot of value to the recipient: recognition, recognition and achievement in the arts and science of film. Cedric Gibbons, artistic director of MGM, designed the statuette, and there are theories about its model, as it depicts a seemingly skinny male figure. There is an unproven story that Mexican actor and director Emilio Fernández, who was friends with Gibbons’ wife, actress Dolores del Río, was the permanent role model.

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Courtesy of Joshua White / © Academy Museum Foundation

Each Oscar is imbued with the triumph, disappointments, and even the love and suffering experienced by the person who earned it. Buffy Sainte-Marie, who became the first (and only) Indigenous person to win an Oscar, remembers the pain in her life during her proudest moment. “I was in a very bad marriage,” says Sainte-Marie. “Do you know the stories about Rihanna on her way to the Grammys?” I was in a bad situation. I was beaten and verbally assaulted in the car and pushed around that night. So I didn’t have much fun, but I’m really glad we won.
At the time, Sainte-Marie was married to her husband-producer and co-composer Jack Nitzsche. While a moment can mean so much to an under-represented community, it can at the same time be a bittersweet reminder of a difficult time.

As you enter the speech room, scrolling down the walls on both sides, 27 of the most memorable remarks shared by the award winners. In the center, a large table contains the dresses worn by Cher when she won the Best Actress award for “Moonstruck” (1988) and Rita Moreno when she won the Best Supporting Actress award for ” West Side Story “(1961). (She wore the dress again during the best photo presentation to “Nomadland” at the most recent ceremony.)

Moreno, who is the only Latina to win an acting Oscar, shares her disappointment at still holding the title. “We didn’t get very far,” she says. “We didn’t move as much as we would like. We want… but it hasn’t happened yet.

Some of the speeches presented in the room are those of Sacheen Littlefeather, who received the award for best actor on behalf of Marlon Brando for “The Godfather” (1972); Kathryn Bigelow, who became the first woman to ever win directing “The Hurt Locker” (2009); and Halle Berry, who became the first and still the only black woman to win the Best Actress award for “Monster’s Ball” (2001). Overwhelmed with emotion when her name was announced, Berry said the award was “for every unnamed, faceless woman of color who now has a chance because this door was opened tonight.”

Two decades later, Berry, who makes her directorial debut this year with the Netflix film “Bruised”, is still alone in this space, with nominees Andra Day, Viola Davis, Cynthia Erivo, Ruth Negga, Gabourey Sidibe and Quvenzhané Wallis. coming short. “I didn’t think I would be the only one 20 years later,” says Berry. “But even though there is no one next to me, which is heartbreaking, I have seen women of color thrive and do more things than they could do 20 years ago. “

Also on display is an illustrated timeline that highlights the Oscars from 1927 to 2021. It begins in 1927 with an image of producer and actress Mary Pickford, who was one of three women, with screenwriters Bess Meredyth and Jeanie MacPherson, who were among the 36 founding members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The timeline sails among the industry firsts, including one made in 1958, when supporting performance categories included Asian nominees: Japanese actors Sessue Hayakawa for “The Bridge over the River Kwai” and eventual winner Miyoshi Umeki. for “Sayonara”.

Overseen by director Bill Kramer and a board of directors that includes Laura Dern, Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Hanks, Ryan Murphy, Ted Sarandos and Diane von Furstenberg, the museum is a place where an inspired new generation of moviegoers can be born and nurtured. . . The building was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, who designed notable landmarks such as the New York Times location on 41st Street.