The ceremony got its start in the late 1920s, when movies were just making their transition into sound, and early nominees and categories reflected the sheer chaos of those halcyon days of what would eventually become Hollywood's golden age. (Though, of course, any film aficionado worth his/her salt would have a strong opinion about the exact dates that that age entailed.)
As the Oscars tradition continued, the awards became a bit more traditional themselves, settling into a predictable pattern of narratives that have stayed relatively consistent to this day. But there are always idiosyncrasies hiding in the woodwork, and the Academy Awards have them in spades. Here, we've collected some of the most distinctive statistics surrounding the Awards' first 85 years of existence to give you a better impression of Oscar's past, present, and future.
If Sunday's ceremony runs long -- and statistically speaking, it most certainly will -- you can break out some of these facts to entertain Oscar party guests bored to tears by the Best Actress winner's inevitably long-winded acceptance speech.
Number of competitive Oscars won by a host of high-profile actors, actresses, and filmmakers, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Ian McKellan, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Bette Midler, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, and George Lucas, among many others.
Number of dollars for which an Oscar winner or his estate must offer to sell his statuette back to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences before selling the statuette on his own. Oscars awarded after 1950 are bound by this agreement, and statuettes are considered property of the Academy unless it waives its ownership. Oscar Welles's 1941 Oscar for "Citizen Kane" was sold at a 2011 auction for over $800,000.
Number of words in the shortest Oscars acceptance speech ever, delivered by Patty Duke in 1963 after winning the Best Supporting Actress statuette for "The Miracle Worker." Her message? Simply, "Thank you."
Number of films that have won all of the "Big Five" awards (picture, director, actor, actress, and screenplay). They are: "It Happened One Night" (1934), "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), and "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991).
Number of animated features that have been nominated for Best Picture. 1991's "Beauty and the Beast" was the first to earn this distinction, followed later by "Up" (2009) and "Toy Story 3" (2010).
Highest number of acting Oscars won by a single person, a record held by Katharine Hepburn. She won Best Actress statuettes for: "Morning Glory" (1933), "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" (1967), "The Lion in Winter" (1968), and "On Golden Pond" (1982).
The most Best Director wins by one person, a record held by John Ford since 1953, when he won his last statuette for "The Quiet Man."
Length in minutes of the longest Oscar acceptance speech ever given, a distinction held by Greer Garson, who won Best Actress in 1943 for "Mrs. Miniver."
Highest number of acting nominations without a win, a record held by the late Peter O'Toole. He was awarded an honorary Oscar in 2002.
Number of musicals that have won Best Picture. The last one to do it was 2002's "Chicago," which ended a 34-year drought. 1968's "Oliver!" preceded "Chicago"'s win, but the Academy took a hard turn away from song-and-dance features with its subsequent Best Picture selection: "Midnight Cowboy" (1969), which remains the only X-rated film to claim Oscar's biggest prize.
Highest number of Oscars won by a single film. Three movies are tied for this distinction: "Ben-Hur" (1959), "Titanic" (1997), and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003). "Return of the King" won all 11 awards for which it was nominated, another Academy Awards record.
Highest number of nominations for a film that did not win any Oscars. Two films share that dubious distinction: "The Turning Point" (1977) and "The Color Purple" (1985).
The highest number of Best Director nominations received by one person. William Wyler holds that record, converting three of those nominations into wins.
The number of Oscar categories that have been eliminated over the years. They include Best Dance Direction, Best Short Film -- Live Action -- Two Reels, and Best Unique and Artistic Quality of a Production. (That latter wordy category was part of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929, and ditched the following year.)
Length in minutes of the first -- and to this day, shortest -- Academy Awards ceremony, held on May 16, 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles. Awards (the nickname "Oscar" didn't come into being for several years) were handed out in 12 categories. Today, Oscars are awarded in 24 categories, and ceremonies typically run three hours on average. (Many far exceed that running time.)
Highest number of hosts for one Oscars telecast. For several years, the Academy used a gimmick dubbed "Friends of Oscar" that featured a roster of rotating hosts for each ceremony. The broadcast featuring the most "Friends" took place on April 7, 1970, and included stars like Bob Hope, John Wayne, Barbra Streisand, Fred Astaire, Clint Eastwood, James Earl Jones, and Elizabeth Taylor. Packing in so much star power paid off for the Academy: the broadcast was the Awards' highest-rated telecast of all time.
Highest number of acting nominations for a single person, a record held by Meryl Streep. Streep broke the previous record of 12, set by Katharine Hepburn. Jack Nicholson is the most nominated male actor, currently tied with Hepburn's 12.
Highest number of Oscar ceremonies hosted by one person. Bob Hope is the champ (he also hosted the first televised Oscars in 1953), with Billy Crystal a distant second with nine hosting gigs.
Most nominations for a single person in any category without a win. Sound re-recording mixer Kevin O'Connell began his unsuccessful quest for an Oscar with his first nomination in 1983; his most recent letdown came in 2007.
Composer Victor Young has O'Connell beat in the most depressing distinction category: Young was nominated 21 times before finally winning an Oscar for 1956's "Around the World in 80 Days," earning him the title of most nominations before a win. Unfortunately, Young died before the Oscar ceremony took place, and the award was granted posthumously.
Number of times that the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars have gone to different films. The most recent split came in 2013, when Ang Lee won Best Director for "Life of Pi" and "Argo" (directed by non-nominee Ben Affleck) took Best Picture. For more analysis of this Oscar anomaly, check out Moviefone's extensive coverage here.
Total number of Oscars won by Walt Disney, the most ever for a single person. He was also awarded an additional four honorary Oscars, and holds the record for most Oscars won in one year by a single person (four). The most Oscars won by a living person is eight, with composer Alan Menken claiming the title.
Highest number of nominations earned by a woman in any category. Costume designer Edith Head holds that title; she won eight statuettes throughout her career.
Number of seconds that Academy rules stipulate acceptance speeches must not run over. (This rule, established in 2010, is broken multiple times every year.)
Highest number of nominations for a single person in any category. Over-achiever Walt Disney holds that title. Composer John Williams is the most-nominated living person, with 49 nods under his belt.
Length in minutes of the shortest Best Picture winner ever, "Marty" (1955). Brevity seems to be a theme for this classic flick: the 1956 ceremony where it claimed the top prize was the second-shortest Oscars ever, lasting just 90 minutes.
Length in minutes of the longest Best Picture winners ever: a tie between "Ben-Hur" (1959) and "Gone With the Wind" (1939). But the latter has a slight edge when its score is factored in: including its overture, intermission music, and exit music, "Gone" clocks in at 238 minutes.
Length in minutes of the longest Academy Awards ceremony ever, which took place on March 24, 2002. The historic night -- hosted by Whoopi Goldberg -- saw Halle Berry become the first African-American to win Best Actress (for "Monster's Ball"), while fellow black actors Denzel Washington and Sidney Poitier also picked up statuettes for Best Actor and an honorary Oscar, respectively.
Number of total Oscar statuettes awarded from 1929 to 2011, in 1,853 categories.
The approximate number of voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which determines the Oscar nominees and winners. It's made up of separate branches composed of different film disciplines, including acting, writing, and directing. 276 people were invited to join the Academy in 2013, though the number of new members changes annually.
Number of viewers for the lowest-rated Oscars telecast ever, which took place on February 24, 2008. Despite the Academy celebrating its 80th awards, the show pulled in a dismal 18.66 share of the ratings, thanks in part to its low-wattage winners. (Best Picture champ "No Country for Old Men" wasn't a big box office draw, prompting fewer viewers to tune in.)
Number of viewers for the second-highest rated Oscars telecast ever, when "Titanic" took home Best Picture and Billy Crystal hosted on March 23, 1998. The exact number of viewers for the highest rated ceremony -- which took place on April 7, 1970, when "Midnight Cowboy" won the top prize -- are not available, but the program pulled in a whopping 43.40 share of the Nielsen ratings. (In comparison, 1998's ceremony had a 35.32 share.)
Number of worldwide viewers that the Academy has claimed in the past watch the Oscars every year. This number has been widely disputed, though, and with the recent trend in waning viewership, it seems even more suspect today.