From the first film to win Best Picture, Wings (1927), to the most recent winner, Moonlight (2016), almost everyone has seen at least one Academy Award winning film. To celebrate 90 years of Academy Award ceremonies, the Dryden Theatre has decided to highlight a vast variety of award-winning films, including features such as Gone with the Wind, All About Eve, On the Waterfront, The Godfather, The Silence of the Lambs, Unforgiven, and Schindler’s List, to name just a few. But what exactly do the Academy Awards mean to us here at the Dryden, or in a more general sense, what do they mean to the history of film?
The creation of the Academy Awards cemented filmmaking into history by initiating an interest in the public to view, consider, and rate films in a critical manner. Today, they continue to allow future generations to understand what previous generations once considered impactful filmmaking, and set a standard for recognizing and measuring both creative and technical excellence in the film industry.
The Academy Awards represent just a glimpse of American cinematic history at its finest, albeit arguably. Over the years the Academy Awards have been accused of commercialism, bias, and a lack of diversity, yet one cannot deny that the film titles which hold the prestige of an Academy Award, still to this day, in an age where movies are so easily accessible, bring people out to the theater. Could the directors, actors, producers, etc. have imagined that their stories would live on for decades, continuing to fill theaters with hundreds, year after year?
I may go as far as to say, where would cinema be today without the Academy Awards? Where would filmmaking be without the recognition of its impact on society? Would people eventually have forgotten about the movies?
At the Dryden Theatre, we strive to remind the public of the importance of cinema in its entirety on the world’s cultural history. Though we will be showing many Academy Award-winning films over the next few months in recognition of 90 years of Academy Awards, we will also continue our efforts in showing films from around the world, some more known and some lesser known, in an attempt to expose to the public some of the films that may have been overlooked by the Academy throughout the years.
Though the Academy Awards has faced notoriety throughout its history, we cannot deny its influence on the film industry, as well as the public, in binding American cinematic history with the country’s cultural history, and continuing to encourage the film industry to strive for unparalleled achievements in filmmaking.
Last but certainly not least, our celebration of 90 Years of Academy Awards is actually also a celebration of The George Eastman Museum’s world-famous film collection comprising more than 28,000 titles spanning the entire history of both American and international cinema, since every single film print we will show in this series between January and April is a print from our very own collection!
Dryden Theatre Manager