Who Decides Who Wins Oscars?

By Teo Spengler ; Updated September 15, 2017
Winners will attend the much buzzed about Academy Awards ceremony.

No matter how fervently you believe a film deserves an Oscar, it's out of your hands unless you happen to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The approximately 6,000 voting members cast confidential ballots starting in December, and the winners of these awards for cinematic excellence are announced in a televised ceremony.

Membership by Invitation Only

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a professional honorary organization with membership by invitation only. The Academy does not disclose the names of its members to the public, but the names of those offered new membership sometimes are disclosed. Many members are previous award nominees or winners.

Male, White and Over 50

While the Academy does not reveal its membership list, it may not surprise you to learn that women, people of color and young people do not make up the majority of votes. In 2012, a study by staff writers of the "Los Angeles Times" determined that the vast majority of Academy members are white, male and over the age of 50. At that time, only six of the Academy Board of Governors 43 members were women and only one a person of color.

About the Author

From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.