Los Angeles – May 16, 1929
The first Academy Awards was held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. 270 people attended. They each paid $5 to underwrite the cost of the evening’s dinner and awards presentation.
The presentation of awards took a scant 15 minutes.
The event was not broadcast.
The statuette didn’t have a name. (Someone starting calling the gold man “Oscar” around 1931 and it caught on. The Academy made the name official in 1939.)
There was no anxiety about who would and wouldn’t walk away a winner that night because all the winners had been announced three months before the event.
Los Angeles – February 22, 2015
In a few hours the 87th Annual Academy Awards – officially called The Oscars only since 2013 – will get underway in L.A.’s Dolby Theater. This is the culmination of the awards season. The show will last a little more than 15 minutes. It will be broadcast live worldwide. Millions of dollars have been expended on Oscar campaigns for films and individuals but the nominees will sit on pins and needles until his or her name is or is not called. So just about everything has changed from the first Academy Awards.
One thing remains the same: your life and my life will not be affected one iota by the show or the outcome of the awards. For that reason I don’t make Oscar picks and I’m not disappointed in the outcomes. I have no emotional or financial investment in the goings on tonight. I just enjoy the show — because I choose to. If I choose not to enjoy it then I stop watching. What I can never figure out is why people choose not to enjoy the show and choose to keep watching.
Look, it’s an important event but it’s not that important. In the grand scheme it has some meaning but probably not as much as its champions think or as little as its detractors claim. It is an economic engine for AMPAS and a marketing tool for the players fortunate enough to be on the ballot. It is a pop culture touchstone. It’s fun to debate but it’s pointless to kvetch.
The Oscars are a celebration of movies, making movies and the people who make movies. I watch because I love all of those things as well.