Discontinued Oscar Categories

February 17, 2014

The list of individual awards handed out at the Academy Awards can change. Here are several discontinued Oscar categories.

  • discontinued_oscarBest Unique and Artistic Quality of Production. Awarding an overall “feel” or “goodness” of a film was just too vague and/or too similar to the perennial Best Picture award. It was awarded just once, to F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans at the first Oscars in 1928 (Wings won Best Picture), before it was eliminated.
  • Best Comedy Direction. This award sought to properly recognize comic films, something critics say the Best Picture or Best Director races rarely do. Again, this was handed out just once, at the first Oscars in 1928 before it was retired—directors of all films became eligible for the Best Director category. The winner: Lewis Milestone for Two Arabian Nights.
  • Best Title Writing. The movie that won the first award for Best Picture, Wings, was also the only silent film to win that award – talkies were on their way and the industry standard a year later. This category honoring quality of superior writing on those brief, interstitial cards in silent movies was thus obsolete after being awarded. Writer Joseph Farnham won for his body of work in the year 1928.
  • Academy Juvenile Award. Given out only occasionally from 1934 to 1960 as the Academy saw fit to recognize truly remarkable performances by children and teenagers. The general voting base didn’t decide who won; rather it was awarded by a special committee. Now, young actors are eligible to compete in the main acting categories (for example, Anna Paquin won Best Supporting Actress at age 11 for The Piano in 1993). Some of the 12 Academy Juvenile Award winners: Shirley Temple, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, and Hayley Mills.
  • Best Dance Direction. This award made sense when it was given out (1935 to 1937) because it was an era of Hollywood in which many films would eschew plot in favor of huge, long, spectacular dance numbers. Those are hard to stage, and choreographers had this Oscar of their own. The award was pulled after the Directors Guild of America balked at the use of the word “direction” in the award’s name to describe choreographers and not full-fledged film directors.

The Academy has also rejected proposed new categories. In 1999, it shot down awards for casting and title design. Every year from 1991 to 2012 the Academy has turned down a request for a best stunt coordination Oscar.

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