The First Film to Win Best Picture – Written by Linda Napik
Years before there were televised reports from the red carpet or trendy workplace Oscar pools, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) handed out the first Academy Awards to films released in 1927 and 1928. The first film to win the award for Outstanding Picture was the silent film Wings.
Wings tells the story of men and women who variously fall in love and strive to do their duty during World War I. It was considered technically impressive for its airplane scenes, filmed during a decade when flight was in its infancy and Charles Lindbergh completed his famous pioneering journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The two main male characters in Wings, played by Richard Arlen and Buddy Rogers, take part in daring feats of fighter pilot warfare. In addition to Outstanding Picture, Wings earned an Oscar for Engineering Effects, due in part to the orchestrating and filming of the scenes in which the actors actually flew the small airplanes.
The film also stars Clara Bow and Jobyna Ralston as women who love and/or are loved by those men, but who are also courageous characters in their own right. Clara Bow’s character, whom both men love at first, volunteers to serve in the medical brigades; she, too, heads to Europe and the war. Another legendary Hollywood actor who appears in the film is Gary Cooper.
Paramount premiered Wings in 1927. The first Academy Awards ceremony was held in May 1929, honoring films from late 1927 and the first half of 1928. The Outstanding Picture category later became known as Best Picture. Wings was the only silent film to win the award until the 2011 film The Artist won Best Picture in the 2012 ceremony. Wings is now available on DVD, for the easy home viewing pleasure of those who love classic films and the history of the Oscars.
(This article was written by Linda Napik and used with license permission.)