Some of you are probably too young to remember, but I originally started this blog to peddle (in a non-remunerative way) something I like to call the "Katie-Bar-The-Door Awards"—alternate Oscars (who should have been nominated, who should have won) but which as you know are really just an excuse to write a history of the movies from the Silent Era to the present day.
Then I got distracted by silent movies and will continue to be distracted for the foreseeable future.
But what about the Katie Awards?
Well, rather than let them wither on the vine, I'm going to post them, one year at a time, one post a day, until I run out of them, say sometime in February. I've been serving them up on the stand-alone pages highlighted on the right hand side of the blog, but people rarely head over there (why would they) and while some of my choices may be no better than "meh," the pictures that accompany them are, all modesty aside, dynamite.
So here, in case you've forgotten, are my first year's worth of picks, covering the Oscar year running from August 1, 1927 to July 31, 1928.
winner: Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans (prod. William Fox)
nominees: The Crowd (prod. Irving Thalberg); The Last Command (prod. Jesse L. Lasky and Adolph Zukor); Laugh, Clown, Laugh (prod. Herbert Brenon); The Man Who Laughs (prod. Paul Kohner); Wings (prod. Lucien Hubbard)
Must-See Drama: The Crowd; The Last Command; Laugh, Clown, Laugh; The Man Who Laughs; Sadie Thompson; Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans; Wings
winner: The Jazz Singer (prod. Warner Brothers)
nominees: The Circus (prod. Charles Chaplin); My Best Girl (prod. Mary Pickford); Speedy (prod. Harold Lloyd); The Student Prince In Old Heidelberg (prod. Ernst Lubitsch)
Must-See Comedy/Musical: The Circus; The Jazz Singer; My Best Girl; The Patsy; Speedy; The Student Prince In Old Heidelberg
PICTURE (Foreign Language)
winner: Spione (Spies) (prod. Erich Pommer)
nominees: Berlin: Symphony Of A Great City (prod. Karl Freund); October (Ten Days That Shook The World) (prod. Sovkino)
winner: Lon Chaney (Laugh, Clown, Laugh)
nominees: Emil Jannings (The Last Command); Conrad Veidt (The Man Who Laughs)
winner: Al Jolson (The Jazz Singer)
nominees: Charles Chaplin (The Circus); Harold Lloyd (Speedy)
winner: Janet Gaynor (7th Heaven; Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans and Street Angel)
nominees: Eleanor Boardman (The Crowd); Gloria Swanson (Sadie Thompson)
winner: Mary Pickford (My Best Girl)
nominees: Marion Davies (The Patsy); Norma Shearer (The Student Prince In Old Heidelberg)
winner: F.W. Murnau (Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans)
nominees: Paul Leni (The Cat And The Canary and The Man Who Laughs); King Vidor (The Crowd); Josef von Sternberg (The Last Command); William A. Wellman (Wings)
winner: Charles Chaplin (The Circus)
nominees: Ernst Lubitsch (The Student Prince In Old Heidelberg); Lewis Milestone (Two Arabian Knights); Ted Wilde (Speedy)
winner: Jean Hersholt (The Student Prince In Old Heidelberg)
nominees: Lionel Barrymore (Sadie Thompson); Gary Cooper (Wings); Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Spione); William Powell (The Last Command)
winner: Clara Bow (Wings)
nominees: Evelyn Brent (The Last Command); Gladys Brockwell (7th Heaven); Louise Brooks (A Girl In Every Port); Mary Philbin (The Man Who Laughs)
winner: Herman J. Mankiewicz (titles) and John F. Goodrich (writer), from a story by Lajos Biró and Josef von Sternberg (The Last Command)
nominees: King Vidor and John V.A. Weaver; titles by Joseph Farnham (The Crowd); Elizabeth Meehan; titles by Joseph Farnham; from a play by David Belasco and Tom Cushing (Laugh, Clown, Laugh); Raoul Walsh; titles by C. Gardner Sullivan; from a story by W. Somerset Maugham (Sadie Thompson)
George Groves (The Jazz Singer) (Special Achievement In The Use Of Sound); "Toot Toot Tootsie" (The Jazz Singer) (Best Song); Charles Rosher and Karl Struss (Sunrise: A Song Of Two Humans) (Cinematography); Roy Pomeroy (Wings) (Special Effects)
(Note: I'll cop to having changed one of my picks from when I originally posted them back in 2009. Originally, I went with The Crowd, King Vidor's blistering take on the American Dream, for best screenplay. At the time it struck me as edgy and unique. In fact, now that I've watched 800+ silent movies, I realize that The Crowd actually arrived at the tale end of a long series of social message pictures that dated back to D.W. Griffith's one-reel wonder A Corner in Wheat and included tales about the hot button issues of the day—immigration, white slavery, abortion, etc. Far from being cutting edge, The Crowd was in 1928 something of a cliche—a well-made cliche, perhaps, but no more brave than, say, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner was in 1967.
Instead, I've gone with The Last Command, Josef von Sternberg's moving story about a Russian general reduced after the revolution of 1917 to begging bit parts as an actor in Hollywood. It won Emil Jannings a well-deserved Oscar and also starred William Powell in one of his darkest dramatic roles. A real must-see.)