Whether you are watching the Academy Award nominated movies for fun, for money, or for professional reasons, it’s always good to do a little research on the categories that films are nominated in. To that end, we present our highly biased list of books on film to read before filling out your pool ballot Sunday night. The Oscar ceremony starts at 8:00 pm Eastern. Get some popcorn ready, you’ve got some reading to do.
Every year I lose the Oscar pool to a friend who commands the lesser known categories like sound editing, visual effects, and cinematography. To give myself the edge this year I’m consulting several Wallflower Press books, Film Editing: The Art of the Expressive by Valerie Orpen, Special Effects: Still in Search of Wonder by Michele Pierson, and Film Sound: Theory and Practice edited by Elisabeth Weis and John Belton. That way I’ll know what to look for when watching the Oscar nominated movies and place my wagers accordingly.
For the more popular categories, I’m going for a more historical approach and researching past winners to hedge my bets. Again, Wallflower brings the “A” game to my team with their Short Cuts series on topics like Documentary: The Margins of Reality by Paul Ward, Animation: Genre and Authorship, by Paul Wells, Crime Films: Investigating the Scene by Kirsten Moana Thompson, and The Western Genre: From Lordsburg to Big Whiskey by John Saunders.
Now that I’ve finished researching my ballot, I’m going to read a bit for fun. While he’s not up for best director, the Wallflower series Directors’ Cuts includes the fascinating The Cinema of Todd Haynes: All That Heaven Allows by James Morrison. Haynes’s new movie, I’m Not There has Cate Blanchett nominated for best supporting actress. And lastly, since so many of this year’s film are based on historical events, I’m going to consult The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past, edited by Peter C. Rollins which was winner of the 2005 Popular Culture Association’s Ray and Pat Browne Award for a reference work and finalist for Theater Library Association Award, 2005.
Finally, here’s a list of all the film titles from Columbia University Press, Wallflower, Edinburgh University Press, and Auteur. Well hopefully all that award winning will rub off on me and bring me some big money Sunday night. Good luck with your ballot selections!