Academy Award Winners: The First 50 Years
A documentary about the global creative institution that the Academy Awards have become, from the early years to its rich history over the decades
S01:E01 - Volume 1: Birth of an Icon
The first installment in this engrossing series on the history of the first half century in cinematic arts, begins back in 1928, and chronicles the slow transition of the legendary awards ceremony from a discreet and exclusive dinner to an internationally broadcast spectacle full of speeches, performances, and gossip coverage for all niches of film lovers throughout the world. In its formative years, the ceremony looked to find a routine and identity, as films for the first time were seen as representatives of their respective studios for competitive combativeness.
S01:E02 - Volume 2: The Golden Era
With the American film industry expanding and taking an increasingly significant cultural role, the Golden Age of Hollywood was a pivotal period for the films produced during the time, as well as for the lavish award ceremonies that would become a significant staple of Hollywood culture. As the film industry worked to expand on their quality and influence as an accelerated rate, the accompanying Academy Awards ceremonies would mirror this amplification, growing into a dependably trustworthy and entertaining feat for all in observance.
S01:E03 - Volume 3: The Vintage Years
1939 was a pivotal year for Hollywood as an industry. As the trajectory of cinema and its grasp expanded and segued from phase to phase, 1939 served a visible barrier year, with the industry being decidedly defined by its statures before and after such a transitional year. With the studio system in a complicated state of change and review, 1939 was a stretch where the future of the industry was very much in directional limbo, and where studio releases were noticeably in consistently good company in a year of legendary releases that would all go on to be influential.
S01:E04 - Volume 4: Hollywood Goes to War
World War II served as a turning point for virtually all American industries throughout the long and grueling multiyear span of violence. Much like the rest of the country, the American film industry was forced to respond to the international war's costs on every element of its livelihood: funding, public interest, consumers, etc. With a substantial number of the big screen's most bankable stars taking sabbaticals for military service, the industry as a commodity underwent several short term adjustments, which would ultimately become longterm policies, practices, and staples of its world-famous culture.
S01:E05 - Volume 5: The Postwar Years
The postwar years affected Hollywood as much as it did any other American industry during those pivotal transition years as America worked to return to its former normalcy. With a new system in place and a significant amount of name-value talent returning to their ranks in front of and behind the camera, it was time to resume churning historic cinema once again, now with a decidedly changing industry in a decidedly changed country. Americans craved escapist entertainment, and this vacuum of time in the country's history allowed just the phase for exactly that.
S01:E06 - Volume 6: A Method and a Message
A new wave of ideas and techniques took hold of the perpetually transforming film industry in the years following the war, with a new generation of fresh and hungry stars finding their own places in the vacuum of reconstruction the industry faced. Naturally, the content and appropriateness of the films found themselves changing as well, keeping up with a racier and more demanding public. The awards reflected this segue in taste, with riskier and more ambitious projects finding success with audiences, critics, and Oscars alike.
S01:E07 - Volume 7: Movies Are Better Than Ever
The 50's saw a Renaissance of sorts in technological innovations, which allowed a new era of cinema never before possible. Thanks to advents in virtually all facets of production, films were capable of depictions and experiences not even imaginable before. Content and techniques were meandering into territory not yet tread, and the results were astounding to producers and consumers alike. Films impressed on both escapist entertainment levels, but now also on the critical evaluation of them as works of art, and thus this era spawned some of the most noteworthy and innovative films in American history.
S01:E08 - Volume 8: The Epic Years
In the years following the century's midpoint, Hollywood turned to making decidedly epic films by design, with aims for quintessential greatness resulting in equally epic Academy Awards ceremonies full of impossible choices between innumerable deserving nominees. With star power ascending in its power and command, there were more screen legends than ever before, and accordingly star-studded casts showcasing the broadest variety in entertainment the world had seen up to that point. A growing celebrity culture commanded audiences into the theaters, and to keep up studios were forced to produce larger and grander spectacles than audiences had seen prior.
S01:E09 - Volume 9: A Time of Change
The 1960's sparked a mass change felt in most all facets of all elements of life, and Hollywood was no exception. With studios' practices and regulations changing and the contemporary social climate fluctuating at historic levels, progressive and challenging art was demanded on all fronts. Cinema was moving in a direction untethered by formerly longstanding limitations, allowing talent and artists to branch out and expand, resulting in films that would have been viewed as too racy perhaps even a year or two earlier.
S01:E10 - Volume 10: Hollywood Comes of Age
Cultural changes in art appreciation and acceptability of indecency enabled a time of pivotal transition in Hollywood, resulting in an era of challenging artistic feats with unprecedented vulgarity, lewdness, and other elements not deemed permissable prior. Audiences craved relatable depictions of real life, and accordingly studios obliged in making art that reflected that socially transformative world around them. Films were able to be as ambitious and untethered as they wished, delighting audiences with content and subjects for adult eyes only.
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