What Should Have Won the 1927/28 Best Picture Oscar?

The very first year of the Academy Awards covered the movies released between August 1st, 1927 and July 31st, 1928. Much as I’d like to include movies released before that date (perhaps a subject for another blog or even book!), let’s stick to their playing field.

The Academy wasn’t quite sure how they wanted the categories set up. Here’s how I put it in Ch. 1 of V.1: “Best Picture was then called Outstanding Production. Somewhat redundantly, they also had a category called Unique and Artistic Picture, a kind of second Best Picture award. Apparently, the gods of commerce would get the first; the gods of art would get the next. Hollywood never tried to separate the two ever again (guess which one usually wins?).”

Here are their nominees for Outstanding Production: Wings won; they also nominated The Racket and Seventh Heaven. Other choices which might have fit into the commercially successful picture slot include: The Jazz SingerSteamboat Bill, Jr.; The Cameraman; and Metropolis.

Sunrise vintage.jpg

In the artistic category: Sunrise won; they also nominated The Crowd and Chang.

Other possibilities for your consideration: The Last Command; Sadie Thompson; The Unknown; Laugh, Clown, Laugh; Two Arabian Knights; Underworld; and The Circus.

As always, I have much more to say in my book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OPEELH0

Vote below! You may also add comments, or email me: rjameswhowon@gmail.com


  1. I’ve been in love with Sunrise for some time now. I passed the movie up several times, but one nite at the urging of Mr Robert Osborne I watched Sunrise and fell in love with silent movies. Sunrise being my first love I’m very partial to it’s beauty.

  2. I’m voting for Steamboat Bill, Jr. because I’ve seen it, and I’m impressed with the influential gags that still hold up. That being said, I really need to see Sunrise and some of the other movies on this list.

    You know, if the Academy had continued with the two awards for Best Picture that you see here, maybe there wouldn’t be nearly as big a schism as there is now between big-budget “genre” films and independent “dramatic” films. (There once was a time when big studios would make adult drama films all year round that weren’t necessarily “Oscar bait.” That is no longer true.)

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