The Motion Picture Academy’s Recommended Books

Posted on September 22, 2022 at 10:53 am

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science has published an excellent list of “Must-Read Books About Modern Cinema, Movies and the People Who Make Them.”

Some of my favorites from the list:

Copyright 2021 Atria

Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the Dawn of Cinema, and the Invention of the Twentieth Century by Slate movie critic Dana Stevens is more than a biography or a critical assessment of one of the formative characters in movie history. It is a cultural examination of Keaton in his times and I loved it.

Copyright 2021 Penguin Books
Mark Harris, author of Five Came Back and Pictures at a Revolution, two of the best books ever written about movies and the people who made them, has produced a superb biography of the director of “The Graduate,” “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Just as I Am is Michelle Burford’s biography of the incandescent Cicely Tyson.

“Just as I Am is my truth. It is me, plain and unvarnished, with the glitter and garland set aside. In these pages, I am indeed Cicely, the actress who has been blessed to grace the stage and screen for six decades. Yet I am also the church girl who once rarely spoke a word. I am the teenager who sought solace in the verses of the old hymn for which this book is named. I am a daughter and a mother, a sister and a friend. I am an observer of human nature and the dreamer of audacious dreams. I am a woman who has hurt as immeasurably as I have loved, a child of God divinely guided by his hand. And here in my ninth decade, I am a woman who, at long last, has something meaningful to say.”

Isaac Butler’s The Method is a fascinating history of a revolution in acting that was especially well suited for the movies. Instead of declaiming for the back row of the theater, the Method encouraged actors to look inside and access their own genuine emotions.

Spike Lee: Director’s Inspiration Last week, I visited the Academy’s new museum for the first time and one of my favorite exhibits was from the collection of Spike Lee. That was just a small portion. This book covers his extensive collection of original film posters and objects, photographs, artworks and more―many of these inscribed to Lee personally by filmmakers, stars, athletes, activists, musicians and others who have inspired his work in specific ways.

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