I imagine they were complaining about the list of nominees for the first Academy Awards back in 1929, the first industry awards to honor films and performances from 1927-28. It was held in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and hosted by Douglas Fairbanks, who was the president of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences at the time. It wasn't broadcast on radio or television, so people only found out about the winners the next day in the newspapers.
Wings was the best picture and Emil Jennings and Janet Gaynor. The Director award was split between drama and comedy, with Frank Borzage (7th Heaven) and Lewis Milestone (Two Arabian Knights) bringing home the top prize.
It was at the end of the Silent era. By 1930 Hollywood filmmaking had changed considerably and there were actually two awards shows held that year with All Quiet On the Western Front earning Milestone a second Oscar. Seems WWI was still on everyone's mind. The venue had changed to the Fiesta Room of the Ambassador Hotel. This was the first time all Academy members could vote for nominations and winners.
La Strada. That's Fellini with Giulietta Masina that year. Honorary awards had been given to foreign films as early as 1947, so technically Vittorio De Sica was the first foreign winner with Shoe Shine, and later his iconic The Bicycle Thief.
The Academy Awards has grown into the single most important event in filmmaking each year, with producers relying heavily on nominations to boost box office numbers at the start of the year. No doubt, the producers of American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity are very happy with all their nominations, but a film surprisingly shut out this year is Inside Llewyn Davis, which had won the Jury Grand Prize at Cannes last summer and was at the top of most critics' polls for best films of 2013.
I suppose it is easy to forget who is who with so many films being promoted in Hollywood, and it seems the Coen Brothers or their distributors are too worried about the Oscars anymore, preferring instead to screen their films and festivals around the world, which have similarly gained in luster over the years. But, you have to wonder if members of the Academy even bother to watch films anymore and are simply going on current buzz.
The Awards program is now insufferable to watch, stretching well over 3 hours with its many categories and special honors, when originally there were only 8 categories given at the end of a sumptuous dinner, but they try to make the most of it with tributes and various performances to keep you entertained through the evening. There have been some memorable moments like the time Marlon Brando had a native American woman accept an Oscar on his behalf.
Here's some great photo moments from the Daily Mail.