Academy Awards®

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (©A.M.P.A.S.®) is a professional honorary organization with membership by invitation only, extended by its Board of Governors to distinguished contributors to the arts and sciences of motion pictures.


The performances seen in films reflect the diversity of cinema practice over time and across the globe. Actors' performances, like the contributions made by other members of a production team, are designed to be consistent with the style of a film as a whole.

Action and Adventure Films

Action and adventure have long been established features of American and other national cinemas. Associated with narratives of quest and discovery, and spectacular scenes of combat, violence and pursuit, action and adventure films are not restricted to any particular historical or geographic setting.


It seems certain that the first "fiction" film, L'arroseur arrosé (The Waterer Watered, 1895) by Louis Lumière (1864–1948), was based on an 1889 comic strip by "Christophe" and that two of the most famous early American narrative films, Edwin S. Porter's (1869–1941) The Great Train Robbery (1903) and Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906), were derived, at least in part, from contemporary theatrical and comic strip material respectively.

Africa South of the Sahara

Africa south of the Sahara is one of the most destitute regions of the world. In 2002 its gross national income per capita was US$450, one-tenth that of Latin America.

African American Cinema

Traditional film scholarship has often attributed the emergence of African American cinema to the need for a response to the racial stereotypes prevalent in mainstream films. Indeed, the early representations of African Americans, as in Chick Thieves (1905) and the Edison shorts The Gator and a Pickanninny (1903), in which a fake alligator devours a black child, and The Watermelon Contest (1908), relied on staid and pervasive stereotypes common in literature, vaudeville, minstrel shows, and the culture in general.

Agents and Agencies

Agents are the middlemen of show business. They represent talent, which is to say actors, writers, directors, producers, and other artists, and their job is to sell the services of their clients to buyers of talent—film and television producers, publishers, and entertainment promoters of all stripes.

Animal Actors

"Actors are cattle," Alfred Hitchcock (1899–1980) is reported to have said. Yet cattle can also be actors.


Even in the contemporary era, when animation enjoys mainstream success and a diverse presence in everything from feature films to television sitcoms to festival shorts, and to Web and mobile delivery, the animation form is still very much understood in the popular imagination as "the cartoon"; its history, as ostensibly "American"; and its principal identity, as "Disney." This neglects an extraordinary body of work made with different techniques and by animators and studios worldwide. Animation may be broadly categorized under four key headings: the traditional cartoon; stop-motion three-dimensional (3D) animation, including puppet and clay animation, and work undertaken within the special-effects tradition; digital animation, incorporating computer-generated films, Web animation, motion capture and postproduction visual effects; and alternative animation, embracing experimental and avant garde forms and independent, developmental films that are essentially related to a fine-art discipline and context.

Arab Cinema

The "Arab world" constitutes twenty-two states spanning an area from the Atlantic Ocean in the West to the Arabian Gulf in the East, and from the Taurus mountains in the North to the Equator in the South. It has a multireligious and multiethnic population of nearly 300 million.


Film and television history can only be written, evaluated, and rewritten with the cooperation of archives, since most primary materials in the public domain—that is, not in the hands of collectors—are housed in archives and libraries. For scholars of media, knowledge of the archives and their holdings are essential for their work.


Argentine filmmaking dates approximately from the same period as the emergence of the industry in Western Europe and the United States, as well as in Mexico and Brazil, and Argentina continues be a major film producer. Luis Puenzo's La historia oficial (The Official Story, 1985) is the only Latin American film to have received the Oscar® for the best foreign film, although during the past few decades a healthy number of Latin American films have been contenders.

Art Cinema

The term "art cinema" is one of the most familiar in film studies, marking out simultaneously specific filmmakers, specific films, specific kinds of cinemas, and, for some writers, specific kinds of audiences. The filmmakers implied by the term are such European auteurs as Michelangelo Antonioni (b.

Asian American Cinema

Asian American cinema, broadly defined, refers to all films (and videos) produced by filmmakers of Asian descent in the United States. More narrowly defined, Asian American cinema refers to independently produced films that evince an Asian American sensibility (perspective) and/or Asian American subject matter.


Between 1910 and 1912, eighty Australian films were released. In 1913, only seventeen films were released.

Auteur Theory and Authorship

Translated from the French, auteur simply means "author," but use of the term in relation to cinema—since the 1950s at least—has caused much controversy and critical debate. The frequent retention of the French word, as auteur and in the somewhat ungainly "auteurism," marks the prominent part played in those critical debates by French film critics, especially those associated with the journal Cahiers du Cinéma (literally: cinema notebooks), in the 1950s and 1960s.

B Movies

The term "B movie" is still frequently used to describe any low-budget film. At the same time, it is an appellation saddled with negative connotations, and for many people, the "B" in "B movie" stands for "bad." But not every low-budget movie is a B movie, and most B movies were not that bad.


Biographical films, or biopics, depict the lives (or segments thereof) of past and present eminent, famous, and infamous people. The boundary between the biopic and other genres is fluid, since biography can include historical film, costume drama, musical, melodrama, western, crime film, social problem film, documentary, and so on.


Despite its scant international visibility, Latin American cinema has a long and complex history bound to international aesthetic movements and local social conditions, global economics—particularly the control of distribution by transnational conglomerates—and the building of national cultures. These particular dialectics between center and periphery intensify cinema's intrinsic tension between its industrial base and its aesthetic presumptions as well as its dual, contradictory nature as an art form and a commodity.


The motion picture camera is the basic tool of the filmmaker, used to capture images on film. The word "camera" comes from camera obscura, a device developed during the Renaissance that was a precursor to modern-day photographic cameras.

Camera Movement

Camera movement is one of the most expressive tools available to a filmmaker. It alters the relationship between the subject and the camera frame, shaping the viewer's perspective of space and time and controlling the delivery of narrative information.


Camp is often a confused and confusing term; it is sometimes said that one either "gets it" or one does not. Camp has been called a sensibility, a taste, and an aesthetic, and it is frequently associated with homosexual or queer people who use it as a means of humor, self-definition, and critique.


Canada produces approximately forty feature films annually. But while the country, like many others, has had to deal with Hollywood's dominance of its film industry, Canada's geographical proximity to the United States exacerbates the problem.

Canon and Canonicity

Canon formation involves making choices based on assessments of value, a process that highlights both the utility of evaluating and re-evaluating past artistic accomplishments as well as the pitfalls associated with championing some artists' work at the expense of others. The formation of a canon is directly influenced by the education, taste, and viewing habits of those who participate, the range of films they have seen, and the vision of cinema they champion.


Cartoons both amuse and engage; they are able to point out the foibles and complexities of humankind in direct, illuminating, and original ways. From humble beginnings, the cartoon has progressed to address social, cultural, and religious taboos in provocative and amusing ways.


Casting is one of the least understood or appreciated behind-the-scenes processes in filmmaking. Indeed, casting decisions are made all the time that change the course of film history.


Among the most debated aspects of film culture are issues of censorship and control. Many controversial films have been cut or banned by censorship bodies or local or state authorities.

Character Actors

In the casting hierarchy of most films leading men and leading ladies are at the top, followed by actors who populate the cast by colorfully but realistically embodying a range of characters. In films and television virtually all actors below the rank of star and above bit players are supporting actors, although not necessarily all are character actors.

Child Actors

Child performers have had important roles in cinema history, from the baby daughter of Auguste Lumière being fed by her pioneering father in an 1895 actuality film to eleven-year-old Haley Joel Osment earning an Oscar® nomination for his dynamic acting in The Sixth Sense (1999). Sometimes children are showcased in films that are directed toward child audiences, but their most notable appearances tend to be in films for adults—films that reflect on childhood from an older and wiser view or that explore the relationships between children and adults.

Children's Films

Children's films may be divided into two categories: those made expressly for a child audience, and those made about children regardless of audience. This distinction is important, as many of the most popular films that feature child actors, like The Exorcist (1973) and The Sixth Sense (1999), are clearly not meant to be seen by children.


Chilean cinema emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, mainly at the initiative of European immigrants who were interested in documenting local events. The first known Chilean film, Un ejercicio general de bomberos (General Drill of the Fire Brigade), was shot and screened in the coastal city of Valparaiso in 1902.


China is one of the world's leading producers of feature films, yet, except for a handful of recent works by Zhang Yimou (b. 1951) and Chen Kaige (b.


The job of choreographer or dance director for a musical is to develop dances and production numbers that highlight the abilities of the stars and specialty dancers in the slots that the director and writers assign. Some of these dances advance the plot, but many dance sequences appear in performance settings, such as a nightclub, theater, or social event.


In the earliest days of cinema, before the dominance of the narrative mode, movies were made almost wholly by cameramen. Le Repas de bébé (Feeding the Baby or Baby's Dinner, 1895) by Auguste (1862–1954) and Louis Lumière (1864–1948) is a stunning example of composition with movement.


The first filmgoers who referred to themselves as cinephiles were the French artists and intellectuals in the 1920s associated with the avant-garde: Louis Delluc (1890–1924), Jean Epstein (1897–1953), Germain Dulac (1882–1942), and Ève Francis (1886–1980). For these filmmaker-critics, photogénie referred to a very specific experience produced by cinema.


"Class" is a term used to categorize people according to their economic status. It frequently involves a consideration of income level, type of profession, inherited wealth and family lineage, and a diffusely understood idea of "social standing." Historically, most societies have made distinctions among their members according to some kind of class division—although capitalist cultures promote the idea of being "classless" societies (as in the concept of the "American Dream" that individuals can rise in station based on their ability alone).

Cold War

The science fiction film Strange Invaders (Michael Laughlin, 1983), which trades in acid-tinged nostalgia, opens with a caption that describes the 1950s as an era in which "the only things we had to worry about were the Communists and rock 'n' roll." The joke, of course, is that these multipronged threats still managed to turn a decade otherwise characterized by increasing affluence, technological and social progress, and an absence of world war into a time of deep-seated fear, doubt, and paranoia.


A Hollywood myth has it that the composer Arnold Schoenberg once wrote a film score on the mistaken presumption that a motion picture would subsequently be made to match his music. The story suggests that misconceptions about the nature of the collaborative process have quite likely always cropped up among the creative forces involved in filmmaking.

Colonialism and Postcolonialism

Among the films that Auguste (1862–1954) and Louis Lumière (1864–1948) screened for rapt audiences at the Paris World's Fair of 1900 was Indochina: Namo Village, Panorama Taken from a Rickshaw. Shot by Gabriel Veyre (1871–1936) from the back of a rickshaw as it made its way through an Indochinese village, the film captured what the vehicle left in its wake: a dirt road, thatched structures of varying sizes, and a crowd of gleeful children who, in their erratic pursuit of the rickshaw, run in and out of frame repeatedly.


Toward the beginning of The Wizard of Oz (1939), as she discovers that her house has landed on the Wicked Witch of the East, the heroine Dorothy (Judy Garland) dons a pair of ruby slippers. Sparkling and unforgettable in their redness, these shoes constitute the center of an important filmic moment: not only do they signal the beginning of the Technicolor era in perhaps the most popular film of all time, they also remain for viewers of all ages among the most memorable objects in twentieth-century screen history.


The rise of Columbia Pictures to Hollywood prominence is as unlikely as the plot of a Frank Capra (1897–1991) film, and in fact it was a run of Capra-directed hits that fueled Columbia's ascent. No other studio relied so heavily in its formative years on the talent and output of a single filmmaker, as Capra's early hits put Columbia on the industry map in the late 1920s, and then his Depression-era comedies like It Happened One Night (1934) and Mr.


In a valuable insight on the nature of comedy as a genre, Jim Leach suggests that any genre that included the comic visions of both Jerry Lewis (b. 1926) and Ernest Lubitsch (1892–1947) was already headed for trouble (Leach, 1977).

Comics and Comic Books

Both comics and cinema had important forebears in the mid-nineteenth century, but they emerged roughly contemporaneously in the 1890s. Each medium was quickly adopted as a mode of popular visual narrative, sharing a common history of being perceived as inferior aspects of early-twentieth-century mass culture.


"Co-production" is a broad term that may apply to any form of co-financing or financial, creative, and technical collaboration involved in the production of a film. Co-productions have been notable at various points throughout cinema history and have proven to be a crucial means of feature film production in the world.


Costume design is as crucial to the creation of a film as direction, acting, art design, and cinematography. The audience, if it notes costume design at all, sees "fashion" or "period" dress, not realizing that a costume is never "fashion," "period" or even "clothes" and that the designer must achieve these categories without revealing any tricks.


The word "credits" refers to a display of the film's title and the names of persons involved in making a film. Restricted in the earliest days of cinema to a card showing only the film title and the production company, credits have grown substantially in complexity and length.


The large crews that are associated with modern big budget Hollywood films reflect not only the scale and scope of the production but also a sophisticated division of labor. Early films were smaller and thus far simpler in this regard.

Crime Films

Crime films rule the world from East to West—from Shanghai Triad to Kalifornia—because they allow audiences to indulge two logically incompatible desires: the desire to enter a criminal world most of them would take pains to avoid in real life, and the desire to walk away from that world with none of its traumatic or fatal consequences. Whether they focus on criminals, convicts, avengers, detectives, police officers, attorneys, or victims, crime films depend on a nearly universal fear of crime and an equally strong attraction to the criminal world.