And the Oscar Goes To… Books on the History of Hollywood

Lights, camera, action! The 96th Academy Awards are scheduled to debut on March 10, 2024. From roaring American blockbusters to international films, this year’s nominations are sure to bring star-studded excitement to the annual awards ceremony.

Have you ever wondered about everything that goes into creating the Oscars? How does the voting process work? How much does a trophy weigh? Have there been other “Barbenheimer” equivalents in film history? These books on Hollywood are sure to satisfy your curiosity.

If you’re looking for a primer in general Oscar history, Oscar Wars is a great place to start. Author Michael Schulman chronicles not only the formation of the Academy Awards, but also the personal politics and dramas behind the films and the stars who receive the awards. Told through a series of vignettes, it will place you in the front row for all the historic moments, making you fall in love with movies all over again.

The Oscars have historically excluded people of color and people from underrepresented groups, earning the “Oscars So White” hashtag campaign in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about African American actors and their representation at the Academy Awards, look no further than Black Oscars. Author Frederick W. Gooding, Jr. examines roles for African Americans in cinema, arguing that Oscar history illuminates how America was grappling with racism in other aspects. This book fills in some of the historic gaps that are missing in other titles.

To hear from the filmmakers, actors and artists themselves, check out Hollywood. Pieced together by editors Jeanine Basinger and Sam Wasson, this tome chronicles the history of Hollywood through the Academy’s large library of interviews. From Frank Capra to Steven Spielberg, you’ll get a clear picture of what it means to work in Hollywood after reading this book. Recommended for cinephiles who know a lot of film history already and want to hear their favorite filmmakers talk about the art form.

Film critics are undoubtedly important in the conversation surrounding the best performances and artistic visions of the year. While critics and the Academy might not always see eye-to-eye about what constitutes the "Best Picture" of the year, it’s important to understand how audience reactions influence the awards circuit. Opposable Thumbs takes a deep dive into two important film critics—and Chicago legends—Siskel and Ebert, and how they influenced the conversation around movie-going.

What's your favorite book on film history? See you at the movies!