This huge, hefty history of the hottest night for Hollywood hotshots is everything an "unofficial" account of the Academy Awards should be: exhaustively researched, informative, catty, and packed with amazing gossip. Authors Mason Wiley and Damien Bona describe the awards and their highlights from a number of different perspectives, quoting Hollywood insiders, reporters, and other public figures as well as offering revealing insights of their own. Inside Oscar reviews every ceremony from the '20s to the '90s, dividing each year into three sections. The first gives a full account of the movies that competed for the season's honors, focusing on the hopes, dreams, and squabbles of the actors, directors, and producers who were nominated. The second section, entitled "The Big Night," recounts the ceremony in full detail, conveying the suspense of the evening, relating the funniest quips by presenters and pundits, and describing the most arresting outfits worn by the celebrities in attendance. "Aftermath" covers the press reactions to the event and follows the fates of some of the winners.
Inside Oscar covers everything from the frenzy surrounding Gone with the Wind to the first televised awards to the disastrous 1994 ceremony, which was hosted by a terminally unfunny David Letterman. Each year is great fun to relive, but readers of this book may agree that the most memorable decade for Oscar was the 1970s, when the unexpected consistently prevailed. In 1970, George C. Scott, nominated for Patton, shocked the industry by declining the Best Actor Award. In '72, Marlon Brando refused his prize for The Godfather, sending a Native American woman, Sacheen Littlefeather, to chastise the astonished celebrities for their ill treatment of her people. Vanessa Redgrave accepted the statuette for Julia in 1977, delivering an anti-Zionist diatribe from the podium. And let's not forget the streaker who bolted onstage in '73.
You'll find full accounts of these events and many, many others in a book that's as much fun to thumb through as it is to read from cover to cover. This volume conveys the anticipation, the glamour, the viciousness, the surprises, and the fallout of the ceremonies with tremendous detail and high enthusiasm. --Raphael Efrem Shargel [via]