Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor

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Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the award has commonly been referred to as the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. While actors are nominated for this award by Academy members who are actors and actresses themselves, winners are selected by the Academy membership as a whole.



Throughout the past 74 years,, accounting for ties and repeat winners, AMPAS has presented a total of 74 Best Supporting Actor awards to 67 different actors. Winners of this Academy Award of Merit receive the familiar Oscar statuette, depicting a gold-plated knight holding a crusader's sword and standing on a reel of film. Prior to the 16th Academy Awards ceremony (1943), however, they received a plaque. The first recipient was Walter Brennan, who was honored at the 9th Academy Awards ceremony (1936) for his performance in Come and Get It. The most recent recipient was Christoph Waltz, who was honored at the 82nd Academy Awards ceremony (2010) for his performance in Inglourious Basterds.

Until the 8th Academy Awards ceremony (1935), nominations for the Best Actor award were intended to include all actors, whether the performance was in a leading or supporting role. At the 9th Academy Awards ceremony (1936), however, the Best Supporting Actor category was specifically introduced as a distinct award following complaints that the single Best Actor category necessarily favored leading performers with the most screen time. Nonetheless, Lionel Barrymore had received a Best Actor award (A Free Soul, 1931) and Franchot Tone a Best Actor nomination (Mutiny on the Bounty, 1935) for their performances in clear supporting roles. Under the system currently in place, an actor is nominated for a specific performance in a single film, and such nominations are limited to five per year. Currently, Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, and Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role constitute the four Academy Awards of Merit for acting annually presented by AMPAS.

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