I wanted to get in a really old race as early as possible. To show that the Academy did actually spend time growing into the traditions they have today.
At first, they had a small board that voted the best performances, and there weren’t even ballots. Then the second year there weren’t even official nominees. Then after that, they had official nominees, but it depended on how the board voted. Some years had 8 nominees for Best Picture, some had six, one had twelve. It wasn’t until 1934, the year after this one, that the standard system was formulated — 10 Best Picture nominees (5 after 1943) and 5 acting nominees. Before that, however, it was kind of arbitrary who was gonna get nominated. There were quite a few write-in nominees that came very close to winning. Back then the Academy announced some years (especially in three-person categories) who finished second and who finished third.
It’s interesting to look at these early categories, because you really do get a sense of a body building its own identity from the ground up. Also of note, since the first six years of the Academy had years that were numbered by two. You had 1927-1928, 28-29, 29-30, 30-31, 31-32 and 32-33. After this was 1934. So the way you tell what year the picture is actually for is by looking at the last one in the set. The 1932-1933 Oscars were for films released in 1933. They soon figured out that cutting off the first year makes it easier to keep track of. (more…)