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Oscar Wars, Michael Schulman

This book in 11 chapter installments argues that the Oscars are a battlefield where cultural forces collide and the victors aren’t always clear as the names from the winning envelopes. It takes years to see what the real battle lines were. A political upheaval might be calm one year, and a tiger the next. The Oscars play out as a drama. The common thread through the years of the Oscars – power… who has it, who’s straining to keep it, who’s trying to snatch the golden statue. It created an organizing principle of power and prestige in a town where the hierarchy is always shifting… little ol’ me knows this well from even my dealings with the minions. The author focused on stories through the decades: how the academy was born; how pictures started talking; how Frank Capra joined the establishment only to turn against it; the rise of the guilds; how Citizen Kane got blitzed at the Oscars; two sisters battling it out for Best Actress; the role of films during WW2; how women navigated Hollywood’s double standard; how screenwriters fought the Hollywood blacklist and turned the Academy Awards into a farce; how the counterculture of the rising 1970s brought new filmmaking across the scene; the New Hollywood directors and rise of epics and summer blockbusters; the Oscar ceremony debacles; how Harvey Weinstein made the Oscars dirty; nasty picture duals and backstabbing marketing campaigns; the rise of social media and campaigns leading to the new changes that are occurring now. It’s not a complete history, but the stories he provides are quite interesting and provide an encompassing view of the Oscars over time.


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