Brave New World (1958-1967)

The Oscars’ fourth decade takes us firmly out of the Old Hollywood system and through the final death throes of the Production Code, inching ever closer to the New Wave-inspired maverick era known as the New Hollywood. And although the changes coming over Hollywood–and America, and the world–were very obvious, the Academy chose, for the most part, to play it safe at the Oscars, clinging to the Old Ways for as long as possible and awarding Best Picture to musicals as much as possible, far more than they ever had in the heyday of the genre.

Oh, they nominated plenty of forward-looking films. Many times, the winner was the only one that looked distinctly ’50s, while its competitors all bore the unmistakable stamp of the bold, iconoclastic directions of the ’60s, with tantalizing hints of the cynicism and paranoia that would bloom in the ’70s. Eventually, the Academy had to acknowledge that things had changed, but it was a slow lesson. Still, we got some great films out of it.