The Oscar Quest: Best Actress – 1928-1929
(Note: THIS CATEGORY IS NOT FINISHED. I still need to watch one of the nominees. I still have not been able to find The Barker in any cheap/acceptable format. If anyone has it or knows where it can be procured, let me know, so this category can be finished.)
1928-1929 is a unique year in Oscar history. It’s the only year without any official Oscar nominees. Which means (I guess), everyone was sent a ballot, and just voted. And whoever won, won. Interesting way to do it. Then again, it is the second one. I guess they were seeing what worked.
The Broadway Melody wins Best Picture, mostly because it was the only film among the “nominees” (which is basically the set of films that got the most votes, I guess) that used sound the best. Frank Lloyd won Best Director for The Divine Lady, which I don’t much understand. Why they’d give a non-sound film Best Director is beyond me. And Best Actor was Warner Baxter for In Old Arizona (talked about here). The transition to sound made it tough to gauge performances, so we pretty much just ignore this decision. (Though, Baxter did do some good work in the 30s, so it actually kind of worked out.)
This category — pretty much a blank except — Mary Pickford was the biggest star in Hollywood from like, 1915 through this point. Her and Douglas Fairbanks were basically considered ambassadors from Hollywood to the world. So it makes perfect sense that they’d go and give her an Oscar. Again — you have to treat these categories differently from how things normally work nowadays, because here, it’s all about legitimizing the awards. They’re just getting started, and they want to award what they think is best. And who better to award than your biggest star?
BEST ACTRESS – 1928-1929
And the nominees were…
Ruth Chatterton, Madame X
Betty Compson, The Barker
Jeanne Eagels, The Letter
Corinne Griffith, The Divine Lady
Bessie Love, The Broadway Melody
Mary Pickford, Coquette (more…)