Sunday, January 31, 2016

31 Days of Oscar and the shorts

It looks as though once again, TCM is making a good-faith effort to have the shorts it airs between the movies this coming months be Oscar-related. For the most part, that means shorts that were Oscar-nominated, although it looks as though there's at least one short that's Oscar-related in a different way; a 1960s-produced montage of drawings of Oscar-winners. If you're wondering what the heck, you're not alone.

I never really paid much attention to the historical Oscar nominations for short subjects, so seeing certain shorts show up in February always makes me wonder whether or not they were Oscar-nominated. An example would be the Joe McDoakes short So You Think You're Not Guilty, which airs at 4:43 AM Tuesday. Sure enough, it's listed in the Academy's database as having been nominated in the one-reel category back in 1949.

Speaking of the one-reel category, that's one of the interesting things about the shorts and the Oscars. It looks as though the first awards for shorts were given out for 1931/32, or the fifth Oscars ceremony. (Recall that in the beginning, the nominating period was for a "season", which went from July to June; it wasn't until the awards for 1934 that it was changed to a caledar year nominating period.) Back then, there were two awards given out for live-action shorts: one for "comedy" and one for "novelty"; I don't know where dramatic shorts would have fit. There was also one Oscar for animation; Disney won the first eight animation short Oscars.

In 1936, the categories for live-action shorts changed; there was one for color shorts, a second for one-reelers (presumably only in black and white), and a third for two-reelers. This only lasted two years before the color short award was discontinued. The one- and two- reel shorts categories continued through 1956, after which there was just one award for live action shorts.

The other interesting thing is that through 1942, the nominees are listed as the studios. Only in 1943 did this change and it was the producers of the shorts who were nominated. Something similar happened with the Best Picture (ie. feature-length; or the big award) category, except there it wasn't until 1951 that the nominees were changed to being the producers and not the studio.

Enjoy the shorts!

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