If you’re an Oscar fanatic or if you’re just a film lover who thinks that the Oscars are a joke, these are two books that you simply have to have.
As you can probably tell from the titles, Inside Oscar and Inside Oscar 2 are all about the Academy Awards. Inside Oscar starts with the founding of the Academy and ends with the 1994 Oscar ceremony. Inside Oscar 2 picks up with the 1995 ceremony and takes us through the year 2000. The books were written by two Oscar fanatics and, as a result, it contains just about every bit of trivia that you could hope to find about the Academy, the Oscars, and Hollywood during the previous century. (Unfortunately, both Mason Wiley and Damien Bona have passed away so we probably won’t be getting an Inside Oscar 3.) The books contain not only every detail that you could possibly want about the ceremonies themselves, they also touch on what was going on in America and the rest of the world during each year. For example, it’s quite interesting to read about how different the 1958 Academy Awards ceremony was to the 1968 ceremony. (Essentially, in 1968, longtime Oscar host Bob Hope made a joke about the ceremony being moved back a few days out of respect for the recently assassinated Martin Luther King, Jr. For the first time in Oscar history, the audience booed one of the host’s jokes.) As a result, Inside Oscar and its sequel aren’t just books about Hollywood. In their way, they also serve as an examination of the ever changing cultural and political landscape of the United States.
It’s not just the books are full of snarky details, though they are. It’s also that the books serve as a great reference to the history of the Oscars. In the appendixes, you’ll find every year’s list of nominees, some genuinely interesting trivia, and — perhaps most importantly — a list of notable films (and, in some years, songs) that were not nominated. As you might guess, it’s those lists of unnominated films that I find especially interesting. Every year, some very good films are ignored by the Academy. That was true in the past and it’s true in the present and it will probably continue to be true in the future.
Taken together, Inside Oscar and Inside Oscar 2 are the two best reference books out there for film lovers like you and me.