The Complete, Unofficial History of the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards: The Complete Unofficial History - Jim Piazza

The Academy Awards invites us to share in the celebration of 86 years of best actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers, costume designers, and more, plus the greatest films in movie-making history. All of the winners and the losers of Hollywood's prestigious award ceremony are covered here in detail, together with all of the glamour and gossip that is the Oscars®.

Written by film experts Jim Piazza and Gail Kinn, who are sought out by the media every year for their insider knowledge of movies and Hollywood, The Academy Awards is both a handy reference and a detailed history of the annual event. Organized by year, beginning with the very first awards given in 1927, The Academy Awards presents in each chapter a complete and fun-to-read overview of the ceremony, including highlights of the most memorable moments (and outfits!) of the evening. Piazza and Kinn also provide details and little-known facts about award winners for best picture, best actor and actress, best supporting actor and actress, and honorary awards, plus a complete list of nominees in every category.

Packed with more than 500 photographs from the ceremonies and red carpet, as well as stills from the movies themselves, this unauthorized book delivers what fans want most: all the facts, enhanced by juicy commentary and pictures galore. [ synopsis from goodreads ]



So while watching the Oscars this year and screaming when some of my favorites showed up as presenters/winners, it suddenly occurred to me that I will never, ever have the opportunity to see some of my other favorites, the greats from the 30's/40's/50's as presenters/winners. Which led me to wonder about how the Oscars even started and past winners and things like that. Basically I was just curious about how the Oscars had started and thus I found this book.

I did deeply enjoy reading this book and I learned a lot from it. There were so many favorites that I didn't know had won Oscars?? And I especially enjoyed reading about the antics of the very earliest ceremonies. I really took a lot from this book and it definitely served the purpose I wanted. I can now monologue about *exactly* how the Oscars were formed and have a very firm opinion (about which I will rant) about how the system was initially so corrupt and there were so many winners that didn't deserve to win. I can also talk about my favorite cinnamon rolls and their amazing speeches (please see Jimmy Stewart and Ginger Rogers) and also the two greatest queens of cinema: Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn. .... So basically talking to me about movies is probably a thing you never want to do because I could go on for DAYS (years?????)

Anyway, those are the good parts of this book. And those are probably all the praises I will sing for it. While I learned a lot from it and enjoyed that, this book was honestly a nightmare to read. It was riddled with typos (some of which were so frightfully annoying) and it left quite a lot out. It was a designer's nightmare (this was probably my own personal problem but I was literally glaring at pages going I COULD'VE DESIGNED THIS BETTER. THESE BOXES ARE UNEVEN AND THE SHADOWS ARE WRONG.) But eventually it bugged me a lot???? (If you are, in fact, normal and not an advertising major and not constantly plagued the design deficiencies of others, this probably won't both you at all so ignore me.)

But I think the biggest thing that bugged me was the reliance on reviews from critics. I, personally, hate critics and never read their opinions nor let them decide for me whether or not to see a film. Because I can form my own opinions and I don't need you forcing yours onto me??? And half the time I don't agree with critics anyway??? (And this book is especially filled with Pauline Kael comments which made me want to throw the book across the room every single time she was quoted whether the review was good or bad. I honestly almost gave this whole book one star for quoting her so much.) I would have MUCH RATHER read descriptions of the films themselves or more about the actors than critics reviews. That's not what I'm here for. The sidebars were full of little tidbits about the actors. Why couldn't those have been in the actor descriptions rather than stupid critic reviews. /rant

Well, anyway, by the time I was nearing the end (which went through 2010) I was just ready to be done. I was really only interested in everything pre-80's (since I was far more familiar with everything that came after) so finishing this book was honestly a chore. I considered not reading past the 80s but eventually did anyway. Because by that time I was too close not to finish? But it's definitely a book I will not be rereading.

So while I will always be grateful for the history this book taught me (and which I will definitely be repeating often) it's also one that was difficult to get through and I will never be revisiting. And probably not be recommending to anyone else (if you have a few hours free I will seriously just tell you everything I learned from this book so you don't have to suffer my fate). I almost hope there's another book like this one out there somewhere that is better organized so I could recommend it instead.

In the future, can the Academy just write one instead?? Or just create a channel of old Academy Awards broadcasts? Or even just release them on Netflix or something? I would watch them all the time. *sends pleas out into the universe in hopes they eventually make it to the right person*


review originally posted on goodreads