Ah, the first Oscars. There’s a lot to say here. Let’s see how quickly we can get it in. The Oscars began when Louis B. Mayer (head of MGM, and the second M in the title) thought to have an organization that would honor those people in the industry and also help improve the industry’s image (since at that point, there were a lot of labor disputes. There weren’t really any of the guilds as we know them today. They were still working to be formed. Plus film had a negative connotation to it. The industry had this reputation for putting smut on screen and was just attacked all around). Basically — it was a way to promote the good of the industry, rather than what the perceived opinion of it was. And it just stuck. But it’s important to note that the Oscars were originally more about AMPAS than the ceremony.
This first ceremony happened in May of 1929, and wasn’t even about the ceremony. They announced the winners three months earlier, and it was basically a reception for people to pick up the awards. Kind of like they do now with the Kennedy Center and AFI Awards. It’s about honoring the winners. They kept up the tradition for the first decade, handing out the names of the winners to the newspapers at 11 pm the night of the awards all the way until 1941, which is when they started with the whole envelope and the “and the winner is…” thing. Also of note, the reason the first five ceremonies have two years attached to them is because, until 1934, there was no set ceremony. Starting in 1934 was when they pushed the ceremony to the end of February/March like we know it to be. The 1927-1928 awards were given out in 1929, and they basically spend the nest few years playing catch up. The next two Oscar ceremonies happened in 1930, and then they caught up by 1932-1933, which allowed them to have the 1935 ceremony purely for the films of 1934. (Which also continues to piss me off that people constantly misquote what year it is. For instance, they call them the 2012 Oscars, meanwhile they’re for the films of 2011, just because the ceremony happened in 2012. It’s very infuriating.)
Let’s put the break here, since I have a lot more to say. (more…)