Americans began making movies as early as 1890, with William K.L. Dickson tinkering away in Thomas Edison's laboratories, but to my mind, The Great Train Robbery represents the real birth of the American cinema.
Critically and commercially speaking, it would be another decade before America produced a film as good.
winner: The Great Train Robbery (prod. The Edison Manufacturing Company)
nominees: Alice in Wonderland (prod. Cecil M. Hepworth); Le chaudron infernal (prod. Georges Méliès); A Desperate Poaching Affray (prod. William Haggar and Sons); Life of an American Fireman (prod. Edwin S. Porter); La vie et la passion de Jésus Christ a.k.a. The Passion Play (prod. Pathé Frères)
Must-See: The Great Train Robbery
winner: Edwin S. Porter (The Great Train Robbery)
nominees: William Haggar (A Desperate Poaching Affray); Cecil M. Hepworth and Percy Stow (Alice in Wonderland); Georges Méliès (Le chaudron infernal); Lucien Nonguet and Ferdinand Zecca (La vie et la passion de Jésus Christ a.k.a. The Passion Play)