The 13th Academy Awards honored American film achievements in 1940. This was the first year that sealed envelopes were used to keep secret the names of the winners which led to the famous phrase: "May I have the envelope, please?" The accounting firm of Price Waterhouse was hired to count the ballots, after the fiasco of leaked voting results in 1939 by the Los Angeles Times.
For the first time, the award for Best Screenplay was split into two separate categories: Best Original Screenplay and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Independent producer David O. Selznick, who had produced the previous year's big winner Gone with the Wind (1939), also produced the Best Picture winner in 1940, Rebecca – and campaigned heavily for its win. Selznick was the first to produce two consecutive winners of the Best Picture Oscar. Although Rebecca had eleven nominations, it only won for Best Picture and Best Cinematography (Black and White), marking the last time a film would win Best Picture but not win for either directing, acting, or writing.
The film's studio – United Artists – was the last of the original film studios (the others were MGM, Columbia, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Universal, and Paramount) to win the Best Picture Oscar. Rebecca was the first American-made film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and the only film from him to win Best Picture. Hitchcock had two films nominated for Best Picture, the other being Foreign Correspondent. Two other directors also had two films in the running this year: Sam Wood (Our Town and Kitty Foyle) and John Ford (The Long Voyage Home and The Grapes of Wrath, which won Best Director).
Pinocchio was the first animated film to take home competitive Oscars, for both Best Score and Best Song, starting a long tradition of animated films winning in these categories.
The Thief of Bagdad received the most Oscars of the evening, three, the first time a film not nominated for Best Picture won the most awards.
Winners are listed first and highlighted in boldface.Bob Hope
Colonel Nathan Levinson
For the first time, names of all winners remained secret until the moment they received their awards.
Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a six-minute direct radio address to the attendees from the White House. It is the first time an American president participated in the event.