When: 6 p.m. Feb. 28 on ABC

Host: Chris Rock

Number of awards: 24, not including the scientific and technical awards

Percentage of nonwhite nominees in top five categories (best actor, actress, supporting actor, supporting actress and director): 4 percent

First ceremony: May 16, 1929

Voting body: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

2015 viewership: 36.6 million

Voting members: 6,261

Voter makeup: Average age 63, 93 percent white, 76 percent male

How voting for the nominees works: Academy members vote for nominees in their respective fields — actors for actors, writers for writers, etc. — but all members are allowed to make their picks for best picture. Multi-branch committees vote for nominees in the animated feature film and foreign-language film categories.

How voting for the winners works: All members vote in all categories. In some categories, however — animated short film, live-action short film, documentary short subject, documentary feature and foreign-language film — members must have seen all the nominated films in order to vote. Voting for this year's ceremony closes on Feb. 23.

How to become a member: Candidates must be sponsored by at least two Academy members from their respective branches to be considered for membership. Nominees are automatically considered for membership without sponsors. The Academy's Board of Governors makes the final decision on who receives an invitation.

Other requirements: Writers, producers and directors need at least two screen credits to be considered for membership; actors must have had three film roles in the past five years; requirements for those in technical branches vary based on the field. However, a lack of these requirements can be overlooked if considered members have been nominated for an Oscar or if they have "achieved unique distinction."

Recent changes: Starting later this year, new members' voting status will now last 10 years and will be renewed if a member has been active in movies during that decade. Members who have been active during three 10-year terms or who have won or been nominated for an Academy Award will receive lifetime voting rights. The new rules, along with a plan to recruit more members, is an effort to increase diversity in the voting membership. The hope is to double the percentage of nonwhite and female voting members by 2020.

The most recent big change before this: When the Academy doubled the number of best picture nominees from five to 10 in 2009, prompted somewhat by the snubbing of "The Dark Knight" and "WALL-E." The rule was later amended to allow for between five and 10 best picture nominees.

Final word on the Oscars:

"I think people really need to put the Oscars into focus," said University of Nebraska-Lincoln film professor Wheeler Winston Dixon.

"It's an industry event that's voted on only by industry people. It is simply a marketing tool for Hollywood films. No critics get to vote. No audience members get to vote."

Dixon will not be watching the Oscars.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.