10 Bygone (or Rejected) Academy Awards Categories
The Academy Awards are an annual celebration of the best Hollywood has to offer. And to make their way through all that excellence, the Academy has a number of categories that can make the ceremony feel a little overlong. But the awards telecast would be much longer if the Academy accepted every category submitted by the public or never got rid of the outdated ones.
1. Best Assistant Director
This category had a fairly short run, from 1933-1937. In the first year, there were 18 nominees and seven winners! Can you imagine how long those acceptance speeches would take today? And in the first year, the ADs weren't even nominated for a specific film but for their work in general.
2. Best Title Writing
This was given out only once, the first year the Awards were held. The title card, in case you're not familiar, are the screens (probably actual cards back in the day) that come up between scenes to tell you things like location. In the case of silent films, title cards often held the dialogue. Like the Assistant Director award, this Oscar was given out for the Title Writer's body of work for the year, not a specific film. The three films that earned winner Joseph Farnum the rights to this highly unique Oscar were Fair Co-Ed; Laugh, Clown, Laugh; and Telling the World.
3. Best Title Design
This one was rejected when it was nominated in 1999. I have to say, I do appreciate a good title sequence: The one that comes to mind is 2007's Sweeney Todd. But I'm not entirely sure that it warrants a whole Oscar category.
4. Best Story
If this sounds like today's Best Original Screenplay, that's because it is. "Best Story" was what it was called from the first awards to the '56 awards, and in '57 it was eliminated in favor of the Best Original Screenplay. The latter award was introduced in 1940, so there were about 16 years of overlap before the Academy decided the two were similar enough to be considered the same thing.
5. The Academy Juvenile Award
These were rather sporadically awarded from 1934 until 1960. Only 12 people in the world have ever gotten one, including Mickey Rooney, Shirley Temple (of course), Judy Garland and Hayley Mills. The Juvenile Awards were mini versions of the full-sized statuette.
6. Best Casting
This category was rejected in 1999. Should a casting director be honored for picking a great actor for the role? Or is it the actor's job to adapt to the role?
7. Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production
This was also a one-time-only category for the first Oscars and was separate from the Best Picture Oscar. The only film honored in this category is 1927's Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. It was made by F.W. Murnau, who also happened to be a leader of German Expressionism. No wonder the Academy was impressed with its "artistic production." It also landed the Best Cinematography award and netted Janet Gaynor a Best Actress statuette (technically, it was one of three movies Janet Gaynor won for because they were awarding by "best body of work for the year" then).
8. Best Original Musical or Comedy Score
We still have the Best Original Score category, obviously, but for a period in the '90s, the category was split into Musical/Comedy Score and Dramatic Score. Apparently by 1999, the Academy decided that a score was a score whether it was upbeat and lighthearted or dark and brooding.
9. Best Stunt Coordination
This category has been rejected twice in recent years, first in 1999 and again in 2005. A group of industry workers have been rallying to get this included in the Oscars for years, and I think I agree with them. Some of those stunts take real talent, guts and planning to pull off. So far, though, the only time the Academy has ever recognized stuntmen was when an Honorary Award was presented to Yakima Canutt in 1996. Canutt made stunts and action sequences happen for films like Stagecoach, Ivanhoe, Old Yeller, Ben-Hur and Swiss Family Robinson. He was also a stunt double for Clark Gable in Gone With the Wind during the burning of Atlanta.
10. Best Dance Direction
For three years in the '30s from '35 through '37, an award was given for the choreographer who designed the best dance sequence. This was back in the heyday of the musical, so it made more sense; you might be a little hard-pressed to find enough films to nominate these days. The most notable winner was probably 1937's Hermes Pan, who was famous for his collaborations with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. In fact, the film he won for, A Damsel in Distress, starred Astaire alongside George Burns, Gracie Allen and Joan Fontaine.