Picture of the Week #67: The 1st Academy Awards

The 1st Academy Awards ceremony was held on 16th May 1929, though it honoured films released from 1st August 1927 – 1st August 1928. This weekend, while everyone’s fretting over who’s wearing whose frock, and who’s going to win what, remember that in 1929 everyone already knew who had won months in advance: the ceremony was just a formality, a gala dinner for the winners, hosted by Douglas Fairbanks and lasting only 15 minutes (yes, really). They also gave awards to the best film of the year, one of the best films of all time, Sunrise;

Janet Gaynor was voted Best Actress, not for a single role, but for her performances in Sunrise, Seventh Heaven and Street Angel. Emil Jannings was Best Actor for The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command. Charlie Chaplin received an honorary award for The Circus,

The Best Picture winner (or, as it was termed then, Outstanding Picture, Production) at the first ceremony, the only one that was not broadcast on TV or radio, was Wings, starring Clara Bow. Lewis Milestone (comedy, for Two Arabian Nights) and Frank Borzage (drama, for Seventh Heaven) were both awarded Best Director. Oh, how things have changed.

5 thoughts on “Picture of the Week #67: The 1st Academy Awards

  1. A gala dinner for the winners sounds like fun. The current format doesn’t look like fun at all. I have lots of questions: The King’s Speech was good, but was it the Best Picture of the year? Does Colin Firth deserve an oscar for playing yet another posh Englishman, or should we wait until he does something that stretches him a little more than the accurate portrayal of a stammer? Should Inception have been nominated or was it, in fact, Bollocks? Why doesn’t Javier Bardem win EVERYTHING, ALL the time? Why doesn’t Christian Bale go away? Where are all the black people? Who cares about the best make-up, and how can anyone tell which was best? Why do I like Mark Wahlberg so much?

  2. Pingback: Picture of the Week #69: F.W. Murnau’s Four Devils | Spectacular Attractions

  3. Belatedly, I think I can answer all of those questions:

    Was the King’s Speech the best film of the year? No. It was probably just the one that many people liked a little bit. It’s like Coldplay – nobody’s favourite, but lots of people can tolerate them.

    Does Colin Firth deserve an Oscar? It’s a good performance, but a re-run of his usual schtick; in fact, by making him literally a stammerer, they’re just playing up what his characters usually do, which is struggle to find the words to express what they really feel.

    Inception divided people, which is why it wouldn’t stand a chance. I enjoyed it a lot when first I saw it, but I haven’t much interest in seeing it again, and I understand why many found it pretty drab.

    Javier Bardem married Penelope Cruz last year. He’s won enough.

    Christian Bale was fabulous in The Fighter. It looks like a very twitchy, showy performance in the trailers, but over the whole film it’s effective. It tricks you into reading his character one way, and then almost imperceptibly makes you admire him by the end.

    I think the Oscars feel they filled their ‘ethnic’ and ‘female’ quotas for a few years to come.

    Best make-up means that The Wolf Man can win something. The. Wolf. Man. But Rick Baker is the best in the business, so it’s good to see him getting recognition (again) for doing great work in crappy movies.

    You like Mark Wahlberg because he always looks like he’s wandered onto the set and hasn’t noticed that there are cameras.

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