81 Days With Oscar And Me

Every Academy Award-Winning Movie, Back to Back, Starting With the First

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What Does “Not An Official Nomination” Mean?

August 21st, 2009 · No Comments · Broadway Melody, The, M-G-M Studios, Musical

Broadway Melody, 1929

Gee whiz, I’m only on my second movie and I’ve already stumbled upon a mystery.

According to the Academy Awards site, the 1928/1929 Academy Awards ceremony (the one in which Broadway Melody took top honors) was not “official” somehow. They offer no explanation as to what that means. And I can find no explanation anywhere on the Internet. Indeed, every site I found that reprinted the official list of Oscar winners also included this same paragraph, picked up – without explanation – from the Academy Awards site:

[NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL NOMINATION. There were no announcements of nominations, no certificates of nomination or honorable mention, and only the winners (*) were revealed during the awards banquet on April 3, 1930.]

Not only does that paragraph boldly embrace obfuscation, it doesn’t answer the question it begs: “If the second Academy Awards ceremony was not official, then why are there 81 Oscar-winning movies instead of 80?”

I posted that question via e-mail to the Academy. So far, I haven’t received a reply. Incidentally, I was originally going to call this site “80 Days With Oscar And Me (+1)” because of this discrepancy. But since I couldn’t get a definitive answer, I chose to go with the safe route: 81 Days.

Oscar At the Academy AwardsI found what comes closest to a possible explanation in an out-of-print book by Robert Osbourne called Oscar At the Academy Awards. Here’s what Osbourne writes in his article titled “The Second Year 1928-29: The Talkies Boom…”:

Talking pictures had swept the industry during the preceding year. Audiences and exhibitors were demanding sound, and Hollywood was in a state of furor trying to comply. Careers were alrady beginning to flower and to wilt because of the addition of microphones. Sound also made it a herculean task when it came to judging the year’s “best.” The most amateur critics had learned to know the difference between a good silent picture and a bad one; not even the professionals seemed to know how to evaluate the difference between a good talking picture and the plain novelty of it all.

The problem kept Academy winners from being chosen for a full eight months after the eligibility period (August 1, 1928 to July 31, 1929) had ended…

The year 1928-29 was the last when only a handful of voters took part in the balloting. The following year, final selections were made by the entire Academy membership.

It’s the boldface paragraph above (emphasis mine) that leads me to think the awards are “not an official nomination” because, according to the bylaws of the Academy, they were nominated after the time had passed to nominate them. In addition, it sounds as though the Academy was in a state of flux. So maybe the deadline for nominations slipped their minds. Who knows?

If the Academy replies to my e-mail, I’ll post their answer here.

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