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May 16th, 1929, is an important date in history for people working in the cinema. It marks the first academy award (Oscar) ceremony, the first award, and the first Oscar recipient. It was a small gathering of 250 people at the Roosevelt Hotel in California.
The event in the Blossom Room that day was the inception of Oscar. The first award ceremony was much different from the star-studded award ceremonies today. This post has all you should know about the first Oscar, the recipient, and the founder of this award ceremony. Keep reading.
The First Oscar Ceremony
The Oscar, which is recognized worldwide today, started with the idea of honoring people that were part of the cinema industry. The ceremony included those who contributed through writing, acting, directing, costumes, singing, and those adding technical effects to the movies. The format continues today. The award ceremony acknowledges the best work done by the actors, producers, and everyone involved in the industry.
Louis B. Mayer, the name behind the idea of the Oscar, introduced this award ceremony and declared the winners’ names three months before the ceremony was formally conducted in a private gathering. Today, the Oscars are full of suspense and excitement. Instead of pre-announcing the winners, they revealed them during the live broadcast.
Another thing that sets the first Oscar apart from the ceremony conducted today is the duration. The first academy award ceremony lasted about 15 minutes, compared to today’s Oscar events lasting more than three hours. Douglas Fairbanks was the host of the award ceremony. He handed the awards to all recipients.
The First Recipient of The Oscar
When the first Oscar award ceremony was held, all movies that competed were silent. The cinema introduced sound recently. Directed by Warner Bros, The Jazz Singer was the first movie to have sound effects, but it was not allowed to compete in the award ceremony, as the makers thought it would be unfair to other film directors.
The first movie in history to win an Oscar award was Wings. The movie received attention for its best engineering effects and plot. It was the first silent film to have won an Oscar. The story of Wings features two pilots that fell for the same woman during World War I. Wings was also one of the most expensive films of that time, with a budget of $2 million.
The first actor to receive an Oscar was Emil Jannings for his stellar acting in the movies, The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh. The first female actress to be honored with the World’s most powerful cinema award was Janet Gaynor. She won three awards for Sunrise, Street Angel, and Seventh Heaven. All movies competing in the Oscars were silent.
Apart from these, a special award was given to Charlie Chaplin, for acting, directing, and writing The Circus. He got another special award, which honored his contribution to the film industry of his time, in 1971.
Oscar: The Biggest Night for The Film Stars
The award function got a nickname, Oscar, in 1939. There is a popular story behind it, although it is not confirmed. Margaret Herrick, the executive director of the award function, suggested the name. She wanted the statuette named after her uncle Oscar, who she believed looked like it.
The Oscar ceremonies we see today started in 1942 when the format of revealing the winners in each category was announced during the live broadcast. It featured the film stars donning gorgeous outfits for the biggest evenings of their lives and walking the red carpets. The celebrities’ remarkable entry to the award function and the suspense of the sealed envelopes were the best innovations in the Oscar ceremony.
The board selected 12 categories in the first award ceremony, but it got reduced to seven in the subsequent award function in 1930.
Nomination And Winner Declaration
Since 1929, Oscar has become an annual event, and the awards are for 24 categories. The most popular awards, that most artists and their fans wait for every year, are the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Best Director, Editor, Screenplay, Costume, Hair Stylist, Makeup, Documentary, Sound, etc.
The academy decided on an additional category for the award season in 2018, with the title, “Outstanding Achievement in Popular Film”, but they cancelled the idea following the criticism. Each movie submitted for approval has to pass specific eligibility criteria. For example, for a Hollywood movie to be part of the Oscar, it must be released in New York or Los Angeles theatres for at least a week. Movies that have won awards at film festivals are also eligible for the Oscars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences determines the nominees for different categories and the winner. The makers have divided it into multiple branches. Each selects the nominee and the winner in their corresponding branch. The members of the award academy nominate the actors.
Since Oscar is one of the most prestigious and globally-recognized ceremonies, it has a strong impact on the winner. For example, the movie that receives the best movie award will see a significant boost in its box office collection, while the actors and actresses winning Oscars will get better film offers, publicities, and increased salaries.
16th May 1929, will always hold a special place in every artist’s heart, as it was the beginning of creativity and innovation in the film industry. It has inspired many artists and filmmakers to create some powerful stories.
Like earlier, Oscar acknowledges the creativity of people who bring stories to life on the silver screen. The award committee was one of the several committees formed in the beginning. Awarding the members was a goal. However, the tarnished image of the cinema was the major issue of that time. The focus was on improving the film industry, fixing labor issues, and introducing innovation and technical advancements in cinema. Later, the idea of award ceremonies was approved. That is when Oscar was born.
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