Winner: Best Production
Directed by: William A. Wellman
Starring: Charles Rogers, Richard Arlen, and Clara Bow
Plot: Two young from the opposite sides of the tracks come of age as pilots during World War I.
Thoughts: It's easy to see why the Academy chose this as Best Production; because it's one ginormous production. This film begins the Academy's adoration with epics. While tastes would certainly change over time, epics seem to almost certainly wind up in the nominee lists. The popularity of Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight the previous year certainly helped (Lindbergh was the biggest non-Hollywood celebrity at the time).
William Wellman based Wings on his own experiences as a World War I pilot. He had fought in the war and flew as a barnstormer (local daredevil pilot) before moving on to the world of motion pictures.
The massive scale of warfare is captured incredibly well given the technology at the time. Wartime footage is combined with model shots and studio footage almost seamlessly. The $2 million budget ($23.7 million in 2007 dollars) for a production of this size would be impossible today. While the story is as old as time itself, it's one that's put together fairly well here. However, some of the romantic subplot I felt detracted from the film and helped make it a bit long. That said, there's a ton of great stuff here.
So far, Wings has only been released on VHS and laserdisc. The various DVDs you see on eBay have been mastered from the laserdisc, so caveat emptor. Paramount is allegedly in the process of restoring the film for some kind of release, be it DVD or Blu-Ray.
Although Wings took home Best Production (it is often, erroneously, called the only silent film to win Best Picture; see Sunrise), it was only nominated for one other category, that being Best Engineering Effects for Roy Pomeroy's amazing work with models and animation effects.