An Academy Award is an award bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers. The Oscar statuette is officially named the Academy Award of Merit and is one of nine types of Academy Awards.
The formal ceremony at which the Awards of Merit are presented is one of the most prominent award ceremonies in the world, and is televised live in more than 100 countries annually, however the first broadcast was not televised. It is also the oldest award ceremony in the media; its equivalents, the Grammy Awards (for music), Emmy Awards (for television), and Tony Awards (for theatre) are modeled after the Academy.
The AMPAS was originally conceived by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio boss Louis B. Mayer as a professional honorary organization to help improve the film industry’s image and help mediate labor disputes. The Oscar itself was later initiated by the Academy as an award "of merit for distinctive achievement" in the industry.
The first Academy Awards ceremony was held on May 16, 1929, at the Hotel Roosevelt in Hollywood to honor outstanding film achievements of the 1927/1928 film season. The 84th Academy Awards, honoring films in 2011, will be held at the Hollywood & Highland Center Theatre on February 26, 2012.