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Books About the Oscars

The Book Review

10-03-2023 • 20 mins

The 95th Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday evening in Hollywood, with top contenders including “Tár,” “Women Talking” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” For readers, it’s a perfect excuse to revisit two recent books about the Oscars.

On this week’s episode, the host Gilbert Cruz talks to our critic Alexandra Jacobs about “The Academy and the Award,” by Bruce Davis, a former executive director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and “Oscar Wars,” by the journalist Michael Schulman, which she recently wrote about for the paper.

“We like to think that this is a ceremony, a process about merit. But I think that has been proven wrong time and time again,” Cruz says.

“It’s like a political election,” Jacobs says, “or a sports contest that turns on a single play or call. These books really reveal that. It’s just interesting how many times Oscar — as one of these books puts it — gets it wrong. Like, the movie that won isn’t the one that you remember, or isn’t the one that time judges as the best one. That’s fascinating to see. … You might ask, What does this ceremony matter if it’s not even adjudicating properly? But I think it matters because — look, it’s the electronic hearth around which we gather. I think it matters because people crave communal entertainment experiences.”

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