The 1st Academy Awards were presented on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner held at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. Tickets cost $5 and fewer than 250 people attended. The ceremony lasted only 15 minutes. Unlike later events, the winners had been announced months prior to the ceremony. This was also the only Academy Award ceremony not to be broadcast either on radio or television.
Films that had been released between August 1, 1927 and July 31, 1928 were eligible for awards. In some cases nominations were made without reference to a specific film, such as for Ralph Hammeras and Nugent Slaughter who received nominations in the (now defunct) category of "Engineering Effects".
Unlike later ceremonies, awards could be granted to an actor or director for multiple works within a year. Emil Jannings, for example, was given the Best Actor award for his work in both The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command.