Posts tagged “1928-1929

The Oscar Quest: Best Picture – 1928-1929

1928-1929 (which, for quick reference, use the year on the right side of the double years to know which year it’s really for) is the first really interesting year for the Oscars. The first one was just, “Let’s get this thing set up.” But now — now it’s a thing. Now there are now traditions to uphold and ideals to strive toward. That is — the first year was giving out awards. Now there are precedents. So you have the beginning of what will essentially be a trend that continues to this day, which is, do they vote with what’s best, or what fits in best with the Oscars? (Usually, it’s the latter.) 1928-1929 are the first years where films could be made with the goal of winning an Oscar. Which changes things.

The other reason this year is an interesting year is quite major, historically — sound. The industry as a whole was transitioning to sound. Several films have used the transition to sound as part of their narrative, the biggest probably being Singin’ in the Rain, with the whole “Talk into the plant!” thing. And then The Aviator hinted at it, with Hughes, after the premiere, saying he has to reshoot Hell’s Angels for sound. And then The Artist, of course, covering that period from a talent standpoint. This intro is basically going to be a history of the transition to sound, because I do like to educate as well as inform.

But what makes this period most interesting is that the transition to sound wasn’t this quick switchover . They had a lot of stuff to figure out, technologically. The entire industry was set up for silent films. And now, all of a sudden, they had to, on the fly, start making films with sound. Because that’s what the audiences wanted. And it was basically an experiment for like, four years, them figuring out how to successfully shoot films with sound. (This was even before learning how to tell a story with sound.) (more…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Director – 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 Drag 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 the second year of the Oscars, one where there were no official nominees. They just mailed out ballots and whoever got the most votes won, and the unofficial nominees were the people who got the most votes. These were them for the Best Director category.

As for the rest of the year — The Broadway Melody wins Best Picture, because it was the film to best utilize the wonderful new technology called sound, Warner Baxter wins Best Actor for In Old Arizona (talked about here), quite possibly the least interesting or cared about category ever, and Mary Pickford wins Best Actress for Coquette (talked about here), which is a great historical decision that helped to legitimize the category. That’s it, really.

Remember, we’re working on a different set of rules for these categories than we would for contemporary ones. Though, even with the different set of rules, I really can’t understand this one. Not even a little bit. You just invented sound — why wouldn’t you give Best Director to a sound film? Or even if not, why would you give it to that film? (Though, admittedly, he was nominated three times, so maybe that had something to do with it.)

BEST DIRECTOR – 1928-1929

And the nominees were…

Lionel Barrymore, Madame X

Harry Beaumont, The Broadway Melody

Irving Cummings, In Old Arizona

Frank Lloyd, The Divine Lady & Drag & Weary River

Ernst Lubitsch, The Patriot (more…)


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…)


The Oscar Quest: Best Actor – 1928-1929

1928-1929. The second year of the Oscars. This is the only year that didn’t have any official nominees. That is, people were just given ballots and voted, and whoever won, won. And I think the nominees that were listed were based off of who got the most votes. There are also a couple of issues to deal with for this year, but let’s recap first before we get into that. There were no Supporting categories, so it’ll be quick.

The Broadway Melody wins Best Picture. The first talkie to win, and the first musical to win. Of the nominated films, it was the one that did the most. That is, it used sound to its full effect, and, the industry being in the state that it was, that’s all it took to win. Obviously it wasn’t a particularly strong winner, but it makes sense. They needed to have a sound film win. Best Actress this year was Mary Pickford for Coquette, which — she’s Mary Pickford. She was the biggest female star in the business. Of course they’d give her an Oscar. So that’s fine. And Best Director was Frank Lloyd for The Divine Lady, which seems like a weak choice.

Okay, so now we’re at this category. The problem that gets posed with this one is — The Patriot is a lost film. All we have are some clips from a trailer and stuff that survived. So we have to go in blind  on that. That makes it slightly tougher, since — none of the nominees seemed particularly Best Actor-worthy. So, this is one of those where concessions need to be made.

BEST ACTOR – 1928-1929

And the nominees were…

George Bancroft, Thunderbolt

Warner Baxter, In Old Arizona

Chester Morris, Alibi

Paul Muni, The Valiant

Lewis Stone, The Patriot (more…)