And the Oscar goes to: ‘A Night at the Academy Museum’


On Oct. 12th, ABC released a new special detailing the creation of their brand new “Academy Museum.” This new museum is located in Los Angeles and details the history of filmmaking and the many movies we’ve come to know and love. Hosted by Laura Dern and Tom Hanks, the special is a testament to the landmark moments of history the film industry has brought us.  

The special begins as many notable names in film take us through the movies that made the industry what it is today. Movies such as “Citizen Kane” and “The Wizard of Oz” are featured, giving us an inside look into just how groundbreaking these films were at the time and today.  

One piece of the museum I found particularly interesting was the hall of Oscar statues. This section featured the famous gold Oscars from many notable films throughout history. One case, however, was empty. An honorary holding place, this space was meant for the statue belonging to Hattie McDaniels, the first African American person to ever win an Oscar for her role as “Mammy” in “Gone with the Wind.” Although solely given maid roles throughout her career, McDaniels made history as the first Black winner of the Academy Awards. Her Oscar statue, meant to be donated to Howard University after her passing, was mysteriously lost. An empty case stands in the museum, giving McDaniels the recognition she deserves for being a prominent trailblazer in the world of film.  

The special also takes viewers to the halls of wardrobe, hair and makeup. It shows pieces from many defining films, from Florence Pugh’s flower dress in “Midsommar” to hair pieces from the Eddie Murphy film “Dolomite is My Name.” These pieces were enjoyable to see as they featured many costumes from the world’s favorite films. My favorite piece in the gallery was that of the elaborate outfits in the Elton John biopic “Rocketman.”  

Trailblazing directors such as Spike Lee and Pedro Almodóvar are celebrated in the artist-curated galleries of the museum. Each section was hand-designed by the directors and features the films they’ve created. Each of these directors have shaped filmmaking in immeasurable ways. The galleries feature bright clips from their films, giving the viewers a look into the mastery they have developed.  

“Although solely given made roles throughout her career, McDaniels made history as the first black winner of the academy awards.”

One of my favorite pieces of the museum is the animation section. It shows lovable characters from Disney films, as well as many other movies. With rare storyboards and claymation figures, the gallery features the very beginning of animation and what it has become today. The museum also addresses animation’s problematic history. Blackface and stereotypes were heavily used in the early days of animation, as well as sexual violence and the sexualization of women. By acknowledging this, the museum hopes to recognize that this practice in animation was unacceptable, and the industry can move forward with intention and sensitivity. 

The visual effects gallery gives viewers a detailed look into the beginning of special and visual effects in film. It shows the very first example of visual effects in George Mélièles’ “A Trip To The Moon,” and  in films such as the showstopping “Avatar” directed by James Cameron. In the Encounters Gallery, characters from the world’s favorite sci-fi films are celebrated in all their glory. E.T. and R2-D2 make their home in those walls, along with many other memorable characters. The Studio Ghibli exhibit, one of my favorites in the special, celebrates the legendary work of Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki. He helped bring the art of Japanese filmmaking to the American mainstream, giving us loveable characters and even more beautiful films.  

The final piece of the museum, The Oscar Experience, walks the guest through what it would be like to stand on the Dolby Theater stage, accepting your very own Oscar.  

The 45-minute special walks viewers through the expansive history of filmmaking, giving us insight into the films we were raised on. A nostalgic happy hour, this museum will be sure to delight and educate for many years to come.  

Rating: 5/5  

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