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Friday, 23 March, 2001, 16:07 GMT
Wanting more from website
Does offer a taste of the real thing?
By BBC News Online's Darren Waters

The great thing about the Oscars is not just the glamour and the sheer celebration of celebrity but the chance to delve into the history of the occasion.

Oscar is approaching his 73rd birthday and he has handed out a lot of awards to a lot of famous people and a lot of tears and tiaras have been shed and worn over that time.

The website gives Academy Award junkies the chance to delve into the history of the event and remember some of the greatest moments in Oscar history.

Who is Oscar?
Height: 13.5inches
Weight: 8.5 pounds
Oscars presented: 2,365
Time to make: 20 hours
Oscars refused: 3
Designed by: George Stanley

The website is not a mere database of past winners - although the lists of previous winners are here and you can find a more detailed version on the more po-faced, serious website of the Acadamy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at

Seven sections

The site is broken down into seven sections - Nominees, Style, Oscar night, Exclusives, Oscar legacy, Fun & Games and Gallery.

The Nominees section is pretty self-explanatory, offering potted biographies of every one and every film nominated.

The Oscar was first called the Academy Award of Merit
It also offers a video clip for every nominee and nominated film, in 56k, 100k, and 300k versions.

The range of download options reflects the faster access to the net most Americans have and it is satisfying to watch a clip in near-broadcast quality and not in the sort of quality which reminds one of childhood flicker books.

The Style section is a trawl through the ever-expanding clothes rack of fashion and jewellery that has adorned the stars at the Oscars since 1928.

Visually the site is unremarkable and so pictures and text load quickly.

Nice touches

It's simple to navigate and peppered with some nice touches such as the random use of notable quotes from past Oscars acceptance speeches.

Oscar Night gives fans the chance to watch the stars arrive on the red carpet on the big night itself, check out the styles of celebrities past and present and meet Steve Martin, the host of the ceremony.

Steve Martin
Oscar host Steve Martin
In Exclusive the website offers behind the scenes access to the making of the Oscar but it hardly feels like access all areas and is a rehash of articles found in most papers during the build up to the night.

Legacy offers a list of past winners and FAQs, although I can't believe "Has anyone ever won an Oscar on a write-in basis?" is asked that frequently.

Fun & Games is well, too obvious to mention while Gallery, sadly, is a re-hash of the visual elements of the previous sections.

Opportunity lost

The overall feeling is one of an opportunity lost. Given the wealth of information, facts and figures and drama that the Oscars have generated in 73 years there is very little evidence of it here.

It would be nice to be able to read or watch some of the more memorable speeches of all time, or highlight the great films that missed out.

Where are the interactive elements such as interviews with the organisers over the web?

Why is there no video archive of previous ceremonies? I'd love to see Gwyneth Paltrow break down in tears again. What about a video archive of the different hosts, clips of their routines, the best jokes?

It would not take a great deal of imagination to improve the site.

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