(BEST PRODUCTION) WINGS (1927-1928)
What is it? A World War I drama, wherein two men and two girls in various combinations of love with one another realise the value of friendship, real love and a well-constructed airplane through the horrors of the war.
Why did it win? Well, in it's first year Oscar rather hedged its bets, granting not just this 'Best Picture, Production' award, but also a 'Best Picture, Unique And Artistic Production' award, which went to FW Murnau's Sunrise, wherein traditional peasant values prevail over the influence of a evil city woman. And at least Wings was recognisably a product of the 20th century instead of the 19th.
Did it deserve to win? While it's melodramatic as all get-out to modern eyes, the sweep and spectacle of the film is still undeniable - and the dogfights have arguably never been surpassed: take that, Top Gun. Using the US Army Air Corps in Texas for the fight scenes provided some thrilling aerial combat, and the leads manage to maintain that tension on the ground below despite the lack of actual talking.
Worth a look? For historical value if nothing else - and as the only silent film to take home the prize.