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And the Winner Is: The Reader’s Digest Oscar Quiz

Who’ll be sweeping the Academy Awards on February 9? Find out how well you know your way around the world of cinema.

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Academy Award statues

Image Credits: Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency

Who does the Oscar actually depict?

A: An ancient athlete
B: A knight with a sword
C: The Greek god Dionysus

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Academy award statuettes

Image Credits: Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency/Shutterstock

Correct answer: A knight with a sword

The statuette—which measures 34 centimetres high, weights 3.9 kilos and is plated in 24-carat gold—represents an armed knight standing on a reel of film.

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Sam Rockwell, Frances McDorman, Allison Janney and Gary Oldman

Image Credits: Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency

Where did the nickname “Oscar” come from?

A: It was the forename of the first chairman of the jury
B: Oscar Wilde wrote the screenplay for the first sound film
C: The statuette reminded an Academy librarian of her uncle Oscar

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Oscar winner Julianne Moore

Image Credits: Photo: FeatureFlash Photo Agency/Shutterstock

Correct answer: The statuette reminded an Academy librarian of her uncle Oscar

There are a number of possible sources for the nickname Oscar. One of the most popular of them is the story that the statuette reminded Award librarian Margaret Herrick of her eponymous uncle.

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Viggo Mortensen

Image Credits: Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency

Who decides who the Oscars go to?

A: A jury of 30 former Oscar winners
B: The roughly 7,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
C: The TV viewers watching the awarding ceremony (phone-in voting)

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Red carpet

Image Credits: Photo: Shutterstock

Correct answer: The roughly 7,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Membership in the Academy is by invitation only and limited to people with outstanding achievements in the movie business.

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Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith

Image Credits: Photo: 360B/Shutterstock

There was a vehement debate prior to the 2016 awards. What was it about?

A: The fact that actresses earn less than actors
B: Lack of ethnic diversity in the nominees
C: The nomination of too many movies containing brutal portrayals of violence

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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith

Image Credits: Photo: 360b/Shutterstock

Correct answer: Lack of ethnic diversity

In 2016, attention was drawn to the fact the Oscar jury had nominated only white actors. Accordingly, actors like Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith boycotted the ceremony. The Academy has announced changes for 2017.

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Rami Malek with his Oscar

Image Credits: Photo: Tinseltown 

How many tune in to the award ceremony on average?

A: 32 million
B: Several hundred million
C: One billion

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Women watching television

Image Credits: Photo: Shutterstock

Correct answer: Several hundred million

The award ceremony is watched by several hundred million television viewers, among them some 35 million Americans.

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Gwyneth Paltrow

Image Credits: Photo: Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock

Whose speech of thanks was racked by convulsive sobs in 1999?

A: Roberto Benigni
B: Winona Ryder
C: Gwyneth Paltrow

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Gwyneth Paltrow

Image Credits: Photo: Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock

Correct answer: Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow almost broke down in tears during her speech of thanks. She had won an award for Best Actress for her leading role in Shakespeare in Love.

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Spencer Tracy's Walk of Fame

Image Credits: Photo: JORG HACKEMANN/SHUTTERSTOCK

The name of the winner is engraved on a plate fixed on the foot of the statuette. Whose name did they get wrong?

A: Spencer Tracy
B: Jennifer Lawrence
C: Cate Blanchett

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Spencer Tracy Hollywood Walk of Fame

Image Credits: Photo: Jorg Hackemann/Shutterstock

Correct answer: Spencer Tracy

Instead of Spencer Tracy, the name of the US comic hero Dick Tracy graced the statuette.

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Bjork performing live in 2003

Image Credits: Photo: Fabio Diena/Shutterstock

What did the Icelandic singer Björk to the Oscars in 2001?

A: A dress made of raw beef
B: A swan made of fabric looped around her body
C: A golden swimsuit with a bathing cap in shark form

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Björk wearing a swan dress

Image Credits: Robert Liwanag

Correct answer: A swan made of fabric looped around her body

When the stars go striding down the red carpet, their outfits attract lots of attention. In 2001, when she was nominated for the soundtrack of the movie Dancer in the Dark, Björk wore a swan dress. The eccentric gown was the brainchild of Macedonian designer Marjan Pejoski.

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Brokeback Mountain

Image Credits: Photo: Amazon.ca

Which Best Picture snub earned the most severe criticism?

A: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a movie about the inhuman treatment of psychiatric patients
B: Brokeback Mountain, a film about two homosexual cowboys
C: Platoon, dealing with the brutalization of soldiers in the Vietnam War

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Brokeback Mountain

Image Credits: Photo: Amazon.ca

Correct answer: Brokeback Mountain

Because Brokeback Mountain was nominated in eight categories but only won three, many people accused the jury of prejudice against the LGBTI community.

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Guillermo Del Toro at the Academy Awards

Image Credits: Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency

How long are winners allowed to speak before the orchestra loudly reminds them that time is up?

A: 45 seconds
B: 90 seconds
C: 110 seconds

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Leonardo DiCaprio and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Image Credits: Photo: Tinseltown/Shutterstock

Correct answer: 45 seconds

So award winners keen not only to thank their families and film colleagues but also their dog-sitters have to get their skates on.

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Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Image Credits: Photo: Amazon.ca

Which married couple has (at least) two of the coveted acting awards at home in the closet, one for him and one for her?

A: Warren Beatty and Annette Bening
B: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
C: Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner

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Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Image Credits: Photo: Amazon.ca

Correct answer: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Paul Newman was awarded an Oscar for his life’s work in 1986. In 1987, he won the Best Actor award for The Color of Money. His wife Joanne Woodward was much quicker off the mark, receiving an Oscar back in 1958 for her part in The Three Faces of Eve.

Next, check out every Best Picture Oscar winner ranked from worst to best!

Originally Published in Readers Digest International Edition