Best Picture Nominees: 1927

The first Oscars were presented at a ceremony on May 16, 1929. They covered films released in 1927 and 1928. From 1929 until 1934, the awards were given to films produced over the preceding two years. Additionally, the qualifying films are not always from the same year, spilling over into the early part of the ceremony year. Since we are re-doing all the nominees, we might as well do-over that, too. So, only films from a single calendar year will be nominated together.

In 1927, the movies began to talk. Singer Al Jolson uttered a few lines and sang a song in The Jazz Singer, and the "talkies" began. However, all of the other films nominated are silent movies, starring the major actors of the day--Clara Bow, Buster Keaton, and Janet Gaynor.

For more information about 1927, see The Learning Network's Fact Monster.


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Sunrise (F.W. Murnau)
Won Best Unique & Artistic Picture
German director F.W. Murnau's American debut was a box office flop. It opened up against the aforementioned Jazz Singer, and died in the wake of sensation at hearing "Jolson speak." In it, A farmer falls for a city vamp and plots to murder his wife. His conscience gets the better of him during the attempted killing, and in the city the couple fall in love again--only to have his wife apparently drown in the return boat trip.

Sunrise won the one-and-only "Best Unique and Artistic Picture" award--a second 'Best Picture' category that was discontinued after the first year. Janet Gaynor also won the Best Actress award (for her combined work in Sunrise, Seventh Heaven and Street Angel), and Charles Rosher and Karl Struss won the first Academy Award for Cinematography.




filmsite.org


Wings (William A. Wellman)
Won Best Picture
This is the first film to win Best Picture, and it is the only silent film ever to win the Academy Award. It is the story of two American pilots from the same hometown who enlist together in the Army Air Corps in World War I. In France, they both compete for the love of a girl (Clara Bow). This on is noted for fantastic aerial photography of the dogfight/combat flying sequences (including actual WWI wartime combat footage), some of which are color-tinted.




littlegoldenguy.com


Seventh Heaven (Frank Borzage)
Nominated Best Picture
A Parisian sewer worker (Charles Farrell) longs for a rise in status and a beautiful wife. He rescues a girl (Janet Gaynor) from the police, lives with her in a barren flat on the seventh floor, and then marches away to war.




IMDb


Chang (Merian C. Cooper, Ernest B. Shoedsack)
Nominated Best Unique & Artistic Production
Siamese native Kru is a pioneer, living deeper in the jungle than any of his ancestors. A baby "chang" (Siamese for "elephant") is caught in his traps. He thinks he will tame it to work for him one day. So, he ties it to a post under his house, which is on stilts. Its mother comes and destroys his house. Kru and his family flee to the village, where a mammoth herd of elephants suddenly appear and decimates the buildings in the village.




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The General (Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton )
Highest Rated IMDB Choice
The General is the masterpiece of Buster Keaton comedy. It is generally regarded as one of the greatest of all silent comedies (and Keaton's own favorite). But one of the reasons we are doing this exercise is because Keaton's greatest picture got both poor reviews by critics and weak box-office results when released.

Filled with hilarious sight gags, it is memorable for its story of a single, brave, but foolish Southern Confederate train engineer in pursuit of his train and the woman he loves. His stoic, unflappable reactions to fateful calamities, his ingenious and resourceful uses of machines and various objects (water tanks, a large piece of timber, a cowcatcher, a rolling artillery cannon on wheels, and unattached railroad cars), and the unpredictable forces of Nature, provide much of the plot.



Metropolis
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Metropolis (Fritz Lang)
Solonor's Pick!
(See my review in Solonor's Ink Well.)
This is the first sci-fi film. Fritz Lang's 21st century shows a future of total oppression and manipulation of the masses that is wielded by the unquestionable power of the leisurely few (shades of Orwell). Nameless, uniformed, underground workers trudge sullenly to their laborious tasks and alternate their work shifts, day after day in mechanical routines, amidst enormous pounding pistons of machinery, moving/rotating gears, power stations, gauges and dials. They support the minority elite ruling class of the "chosen few" in the upper world of skyscrapers, elevated trafficways and airplanes. The overlord of Metropolis, desiring to make even more profit by eliminating human workers, employs a mad scientist to create robots that will replace them. The first is made in the image of one of the workers' daughter (Maria) in order to lure them into open revolt and self-destruction.

The special effects on this movie must have been hand-done, frame-by-frame. The transformation of the robot into Maria alone is beyond compare for that era.




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The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland)
This is an historic milestone film and cinematic landmark. Most people associate this film with the advent of sound pictures. Although it was not the first feature with sound, it was the first feature-length Hollywood "talkie" film in which spoken dialogue was used as part of the dramatic action. It is, however, only part-talkie with sound-synchronized, vocal musical numbers and accompaniment. The first all-talking (or all-dialogue) picture was a gangster film - Warners' experimental entry with sound and dialogue was titled Lights of New York.

Audiences in film shows in October 1927 were wildly enthusiastic when America's favorite jazz singer, Al Jolson broke into song, ad-libbed with his mother at the piano, and proclaimed the famous line: "You ain't heard nothin' yet!" The transformation of the industry from silent films to talkies became a reality with the success of this film.



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Best Picture: 1927
What is the Best Picture of 1927?

Sunrise
Wings
Seventh Heaven
Chang
The General
Metropolis
The Jazz Singer


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