“I found that the best way to handle filmmakers was to hang medals all over them… If I got them cups and awards, they’d kill them to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created.” – Louis B. Mayer
It all began in 1927, when Louis B. Mayer, the co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM), established the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). He wanted to unite all 5 branches of the movie industry: actors, directors, writers, producers, and technicians. That’s why the statuette, a gold-plated knight that holds a crusader sword, stands on a reel of film with five spokes. This design was created by Cedric Gibbons, and George Stanley is the one that made it real, carving it.
And in 1928, the nominees were announced through telegrams. The winners were selected by the AMPAS founders: Douglas Fairbanks, Sid Grauman, Mary Pickford, and Joseph Schenck. The movie base was from the films of 1927 and 1928. And eventually, on May 16, 1929, the work of so many people was concretized. At the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Los Angeles, California, was held a private dinner, with the elite of the cinema from that time, where Douglas Fairbanks hosted the ceremony.
The actors and actresses arrived at the hotel in luxury vehicles. There were a lot of fans, who wanted to see them. 270 people attended the event, which ended in only 15 minutes. All the winners were known, so there was no suspense. Unfortunately, the ceremony was not broadcast on radio or television.
I watched 5 nominated movies. Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch any movies, which were nominated for Best Actor.
So, I’ll start with Underworld, which won the Oscar for Best Writing (Original Story). It’s a pretty good movie, with an interesting gangster story. I wrote a full review, in case you want to read more: www.cinema-the7th-art.com/underworld-1927. For this category, Charlie Chaplin’s The Circus was also nominated, and The Last Command, directed by Josef von Sternberg (unfortunately I couldn’t watch this movie, but, in the future, I’ll write a review about it). There are no words to express what an artist Charlie Chaplin was. I’ll try to write about all his movies in the following months to express my whole gratitude.
Although it won only an Honorary Award, The Jazz Singer must be mentioned because it changed the cinema of that time. This is the first sound film ever, which was incredible for that time. A good movie, with an emotional story and a great interpretation from Al Jolson. I think he should have been nominated for Best Actor, but I can’t talk so much about this category, I told you before why. Here’s my full review: https://cinema-the7th-art.com/the-jazz-singer-1927.
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans is, in my opinion, one of the best from the 1st edition. It won 3 Oscars, including Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Unique and Artistic Picture. It deserves all these Awards, and I don’t understand why F. W. Murnau was not nominated for Best Director. Here’s my full review of this unforgettable movie: www.cinema-the7th-art.com/sunrise-a-song-of-two-humans-1927.
My favorite movie from the 1st edition is 7th Heaven, which won as many awards as Sunrise. The Best Actress, Janet Gaynor, won the golden statuette for 3 movies: Sunrise, Street Angel, and 7th Heaven. She was a great actress that transmitted a lot of emotion, although the movies were silent. Other awards are for Best Director (Frank Borzage), and Best Writing (Adaption). Here’s my full review: www.cinema-the7th-art.com/7th-heaven-1927.
Best Actor was won by Emil Jannings, who won this award for 2 movies: The Last Command, and The Way of All Flesh. I haven’t watched it, but I’ll try to write a review as soon as possible. Charlie Chaplin and Richard Barthelmess were also nominated for this category.
I’d like to end with Wings, the 1st winner for Outstanding Picture (Best Picture nowadays). A movie about love during WW1. The plane scenes are incredible when you think there are almost 100 years from the premiere. That’s why this movie won the award for Best Engineering Effects (Special Effects nowadays). The full review will appear in a couple of days.
That’s all about the 1st Oscar Edition, I know there are many things left unspoken, but I hope I convinced you to search for it. Enjoy it and stay safe!