It’s ninety years since Hollywood first started awarding itself for the greatness of its movies and it’s now at a point where attaining that Best Picture golden statuette is everything, writes Tom McParland.
To most of us the only time Hollywood stars are on view is during the annual Oscar presentation ceremonies. Of recent times it has become a flesh show where, female legs (like real stars) come out at night displaying hammy protuberances through designer dresses with only one purpose: the displaying of hammy protuberances. Maybe because – as Pete said to Dud – “It’s a nice leg for the role.”
Today the award ceremony is held at the Dolby Theatre, bang in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard. If this all sounds like an in-house job it is. And always was.
A few steps from the Dolby is Grauman’s Chinese Theatre where since 1927 stars have immortalised – if not their names – their signatures, hand and footprints in its cement-tiled entrance. Just across the street is the cream-white Roosevelt Hotel where the first ever awards were privately presented by Louis B. Mayer at a relatively humble 15-minute ceremony in May of 1929. Halle Berry’s 2002 Oscar acceptance speech took five minutes.
They weren’t called Oscars in those days and there was no fist biting, the results having been published months before. Although the Academy has used Outstanding Picture, Outstanding Production, Outstanding Motion Picture and Best Motion Picture till 1961 until settling for Best Picture since 1962, for brevity I use B.P.
The 1930 broadcasting of the second Oscars was the year in which the present hullabaloo is rooted. It was held in the Ambassador Hotel in nearby Wilshire Boulevard, the scene of a later tragic hullabaloo when Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated there in June 1968. Between 1930 and 1943 the ceremony alternated between the Ambassador and the Biltmore, another local hotel where in 1927 Academy Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) was formed.
Between those years a notable event occurred. In 1934 (B.P. Cavalcade) the statuette was first referred to as Oscar and the name eventually adopted by the Academy five years later. 1936 (B.P: Mutiny On The Bounty) became the last year the public could influence results by postal vote – afterwards only Academy members could.