Which film won Best Picture at the first Academy Award ceremony held in 1929?
And the answer: Wings.
Photo credit: fair use. 

Directed by William Wellman, Wings was not only the first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, but is also the only silent film to win the award.

Funny enough, some of the most prestigious awards in the entertainment industry began behind closed doors, in just a 15-minute ceremony. Back in 1927, the Academy was organized to be a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement and improvement of the film industry. Its first president and the host of the small, May 1929 ceremony was the actor Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Unlike today, the winners of the first "Oscars" were announced before the awards ceremony itself.

But why are they called Oscars? The most popular explanation, and one generally given by Academy officials, is one that dates back to 1931. As the story goes, when an Academy Awards librarian named Margaret Herrick first saw the golden figures she exclaimed that the blank face and stern eyebrow reminded her of her Uncle Oscar. When Herrick went on to become the the director of the Academy, the affectionate nickname stuck.

At the first Oscars ceremony, sound had only just been introduced to films. For this reason, the "talkies," as they were called, were not allowed to compete for the category of Best Picture, for its unfair advantage. Thus, Wings took home the very first prize for Best Picture. The film was most expensive movie of its time — with a budget of $2 million — and told the movie told the story of two World War I pilots who fall for the same woman.

Learn more about the history of the Oscars here.


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