> Zed Book Club / Buzz / The Listicles / Oscar Ready: 12 New Books for Movie Buffs

Oscars statues, 1990, Los Angeles. Photo: Santi Visalli/Getty Images

> The Listicles

Oscar Ready: 12 New Books for Movie Buffs

Our pick of the latest film reads will satisfy every cinephile ahead of Hollywood’s big Academy Awards night / BY Nathalie Atkinson / March 8th, 2023


Months of gowns, galas and celebrity glad-handing during awards season will culminate on March 12 with the annual Academy Awards. From red carpet couturiers and a celebrity spin master to deconstructing classic movies and the inside scoop from Sex and the City’s sartorial maven, our pick of the latest film reads will satisfy every type of cinephile ahead of Hollywood’s biggest night. Volumes have been written about La La Land, so check out our December round-up for more Tinseltown tomes.

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image. 

1Get Mahoney! by Jim Mahoney

The exclamation point in the title says it all: Summoning this press agent was usually a matter of some urgency (for example, when Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped in 1963). Over Mahoney’s 60-year career, Hollywood’s go-to fixer put out fires, buried scandals and shaped the public images of Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Bob Newhart, Clark Gable and Steve McQueen (a star so difficult that Mahoney fired him as a client). The ultimate insider, now 95, tells (almost) all in this dishy who’s who.

 


2Oscar Wars by Michael Schulman

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in 1927, conceived by Hollywood studios primarily to market their movies. Schulman, a staff writer at The New Yorker, goes behind the scenes in this engaging history of the established power structure of a system that favours white actors and, in recent years, elaborate and expensive months-long For Your Consideration campaigns. It’s valuable background when considering the current Academy Awards controversy: the celebrity word-of-mouth campaign that helped Andrea Riseborough’s performance in the tiny indie film To Leslie get enough notice to earn a surprise Best Actress nomination (at the expense, some say, of Black women who were odds-on favourites).


3The Black Guy Dies First by Robin K. Means Coleman and Mark H. Harris

Coleman, a scholar of media studies and the cultural politics of Blackness, and Harris, a veteran entertainment journalist who created the pioneering Black Horror Movies website, build on their 2019 documentary Horror Noire to trace the birth of the troubling horror movie trope (introduced by Spider Baby and Night of the Living Dead, circa 1968, up to I Am Legend and Us), examine Black character clichés in movie history and study the implications of casting and race.


4Pat in the City by Patricia Field

As much a cultural force as a costume designer, Field is the genius behind Sex and the City’s famously over-the-top outfits. The stylist chronicles the goings-on at her New York boutique and the 1970s nightlife that inspired her, and shares stories about turning Meryl Streep into sadistic style editor Miranda Priestly for The Devil Wears Prada and the madcap looks that made SATC such a hit, cementing its place in pop culture. It’s a fascinating read about a life in fashion, not that the 82-year-old is slowing down: her latest projects include a new fashion gallery and costumes for Kim Cattrall’s upcoming series Glamorous.


5Acting Naturally by David Thomson

The film historian is nothing if not prolific, and Thomson’s latest analyzes great performances. It’s a love letter to the craft that shines a welcome spotlight on lesser-known supporting and character actors (such as Marcel Dalio, a croupier in Casablanca) and argues — elegantly and convincingly — that Method Acting was the biggest industry game-changer since the advent of sound. It’s worth reading for the provocative final chapter alone, which weaves together commentary contrasting the technique and effect of Marlon Brando and Meryl Streep.


6Crooked, But Never Common by Stuart Klawans

Between 1939 and 1948, Preston Sturges wrote and directed a slew of sparkling comedies – The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, Sullivan’s Travels and many others — that have since become classics of the genre. Klawans, the award-winning former film critic for The Nation magazine, dives into the social critique, slapstick and sophisticated structure of Sturges’ work to demonstrate that old adage – tragedy is easy; comedy is hard.


7Colors of Film by Charles Bramesco

Colour – in art direction and production design, cinematography and costumes – contributes to narrative, advances character and creates an emotional and psychological impact on the audience. This coffee-table book is clever eye candy thanks to a novel approach that will make you look at movies in a fresh way. Bramesco, a film critic (and former Rolling Stone staff writer) considers films through the colour palettes of 50 movies, going back to A Trip to the Moon (1902) and up to recent notables like Amelie, Spirited Away, Moonlight, Schindler’s List, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Black Panther, while explaining the history and evolving technologies of colour in film. (Mar. 14)


8Black Rodeo by Mia Mask

Shut out of Oscar nominations, Jordan Peele’s acclaimed neo-Western sci-fi horror film Nope deserved better. While it was wildly entertaining, it also explored how Hollywood has tokenized non-white people, commodified both landscape and wildlife and underscored who the West really belongs to (hint: it’s not colonizer cowboys). Mask, a professor of African-American cinema at Vassar College in New York, probes similar themes in her book, subtitled “A History of the African American Western.” It spans rich cinematic history and visual culture, from the days of Woody Strode in the 1950s and Sidney Poitier Black cowboy roles in the 1970s, to contemporary westploitation films like Django Unchained. So much of Hollywood history consists of retreading the same material that it’s a rare treat to get a first-of-its-kind survey, especially when it’s as eye-opening and thought-provoking as this.


9But Have You Read the Book? by Kristen Lopez

For casual film buffs and avid readers alike, Lopez, an IndieWire entertainment writer and classic-film podcaster, offers 52 short but canny essays that compare screen adaptations to the books that inspired them. Some movies diverge from the source material in small but crucial ways (like shifting the point of view in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), while others reinterpret classics like Amy Heckerling’s Clueless riff on Jane Austen’s Emma. There’s insight on The Color Purple, Crazy Rich Asians, Dr. No, The Remains of the Day, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Valley of the Dolls and The Hunger Games, to name just a few.


10Nothing to Fear by Jason Isralowitz

Alfred Hitchcock books are a genre unto themselves. This one takes a refreshing new slant by using the legendary filmmaker’s harrowing 1956 drama The Wrong Man to look at the broader context of historical social justice movements around wrongful prosecution. The movie was based on the real-life false arrest of down-on-his-luck Queens musician Manny Balestrero (played by Henry Fonda); in this book, Manhattan attorney Isralowitz examines the trial and miscarriage of justice (and others like it) that inspired Hitchcock’s only fact-based movie.

 


11Cary Grant’s Suit by Todd McEwen

In the titular essay, the California novelist and cinephile offers a delightful contrarian take on North by Northwest, unpacking it as a story about the adventures that the debonair actor’s wardrobe has in the picture. That should give you some idea of his quirky personal musings on eight other classic films (To Catch a Thief, Chinatown, The 39 Steps, The Three Stooges, et al.) and how they thread the needle of memoir with digressions into esoteric and entertaining criticism — or is it the other way around?

 


12René Hubert edited by Andres Janser

This is a lavish (and long overdue) biography of Swiss-born Hubert who, after his Paris theatre costumes attracted the attention of silent film diva Gloria Swanson, went on to dress Marlene Dietrich and Ingrid Bergman as one of Hollywood’s first well-known costume designers. The book mixes personal sketches, photos and film stills with insightful and appreciative essays by designers about Hubert’s innovative work (including interior design and uniforms for Swissair), and features excerpts from his own unpublished memoirs that illuminate the glamour of a bygone era.


THE SCROLL

Camilla Leads Miniature Book Initiative to Celebrate 100th Anniversary of the Queen’s Dolls’ HouseThe miniature book collection includes handwritten tomes by Sir Tom Stoppard, Dame Jacqueline Wilson, Sir Ben Okri and other well-known authors


2024 Giller Prize: Noah Richler, Kevin Chong and Molly Johnson Among Jury MembersAuthor Noah Richler is chairing the jury for this year's Giller Prize, an award's body his father literary icon Mordecai Richler helped launch in 1994.


Queen Camilla to Offer Weekly Reading Recommendations in New Queen’s Reading Room PodcastThe Queen's Reading Room Podcast will feature Her Majesty's book picks as well as literary discussions with authors and celebrities every week.


2023 Booker Prize: Irish Writer Paul Lynch Wins For Dystopian ‘Prophet Song’Canadian Booker Prize jury chair Esi Edugyan called the novel a "a triumph of emotional storytelling, bracing and brave."


Sarah Bernstein’s ‘Study for Obedience’ Wins 2023 Scotiabank Giller PrizeThe author, who gave birth to a daughter 10 days ago, accepted the award remotely from her home in the Scottish Highlands


Governor General’s Literary Awards: Anuja Varghese’s ‘Chrysalis’ Among This Year’s WinnersEach of the 14 writers, illustrators and translators will receive a prize of $25,000


Giller Prize Winner Suzette Mayr Among Finalists Shortlisted for 2023 Governor General’s Literary AwardsThe 14 winners, who will each receive a prize of $25,000, will be announced Nov. 8


Five Authors Shortlisted for This Year’s $100,000 Scotiabank Giller PrizeDionne Irving and Kevin Chong are among the finalists who "probe what it means to be human, to survive, and to be who we are"


Norway’s Jon Fosse Wins Nobel Literature Prize for Giving “Voice to the Unsayable”The author's work has been translated into more than 40 languages, and there have been more than 1,000 different productions of his plays.


Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist Recognizes 12 Authors Who Demonstrate “the Power of Human Imagination”The 2023 longlist includes the prize's 2005 winner David Bergen and debut novelist Deborah Willis. 


Duke and Duchess of Sussex Buy Film Rights to Canadian Author Carley Fortune’s ‘Meet Me at the Lake’Prince Harry and his wife Meghan have purchased the movie rights to the bestselling romantic novel, which was published in May this year.


Booker Prize Longlist ‘Defined by its Freshness’ as Nominees RevealedEsi Edugyan, chair of the 2023 judges, said each of the 13 novels "cast new light on what it means to exist in our time."


Barack Obama Releases His 2023 Summer Reading ListThe list includes the latest novel by Canadian-born New Zealand author Eleanor Catton.


David Suzuki Takes Inspiration From His Own Grandchildren for New Kid’s Book ‘Bompa’s Insect Expedition’The book features Suzuki and two of his grandchildren exploring the insect population in their own backyard.


Milan Kundera, Author of ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’, Dies at 94Kundera won global accolades for the way he depicted themes and characters that floated between the mundane reality of everyday life and the lofty world of ideas.


Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Dark Genius of American Literature, Dead at 89McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2006 novel 'The Road.'


Remembering the Life and Loves of Literary Bad Boy Martin AmisThe legendary British author has died at 73. His absence will be keenly felt, but Amis leaves behind a book shelf’s worth of novels, including 'London Fields', 'Money' and 'Success', filled with shambolic anti-heroes raising a finger at society. 


Sophie Grégoire Trudeau to Publish Two Books Related to Mental Health and Wellness With Penguin Random House CanadaThe upcoming releases include a wellness book for adults and a picture book for children, which will roll out over the next two years.


Queen Camilla Celebrated Her Love of Books by Having Some Embroidered on Her Coronation GownThe Queen's coronation gown also featured tributes to her children, grandchildren and rescue dogs embroidered into it.


Better Late Than Never: Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s Unpublished Novel Set for Release in 2024'En Agosto Nos Vemos' or 'We'll See Each Other in August' was deemed by the late author's family to be too important to stay hidden


End of an Era: Eleanor Wachtel leaves CBC Radio’s ‘Writers & Company’ After More Than Three Decades on the AirAfter a career interviewing what she describes as the "finest minds in the world," the long-time radio host says she's ready to begin a new chapter.


Canadian Independent Bookstore Day Features Deals, Contests and ReadingsOn Saturday, every book purchased at an indie store qualifies you to enter the Book Lovers Contest, with a chance to win gift cards worth up to $1,000


Translation Project Will Bring Literature From the South Asian Continent to English-Speaking AudiencesThe SALT project aims to translate and publish 40 works by authors from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka


The Book Thief: An Italian Man’s Guilty Plea Ends a Caper That Puzzled the Literary World for YearsFilippo Bernardini’s elaborate phishing scam netted 1,000 unpublished manuscripts by prominent authors including Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan


The Late Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison Is Honoured with an American StampThe Obamas and Oprah Winfrey pay tribute to the writer whose poetic interpretations of the African American experience gained a world-wide audience


Five Canadian Writers Make the Long List for the Inaugural Carol Shields Prize for FictionThe US$150,000 English-language literary award for female and nonbinary writers redresses the inequality of women in the publishing world


The Furry Green Grump is Back in a Sequel to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!”Dr. Seuss Enterprises will publish “How the Grinch Lost Christmas!” in September


Chris Hadfield to Publish a Sequel to His Blockbuster Debut, “The Apollo Murders,” on Oct. 10"The Defector” brings the Cold War intrigue from space to Earth as the Soviets and Americans race to develop fighter jets


Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ Continues to Break Worldwide RecordsThe book also seems to have put a dent in the popularity of members of the Royal Family — including the Prince and Princess of Wales.


Prince Harry’s Memoir Breaks U.K. Sales Record On First Day of ReleaseThe publisher of the new memoir, 'Spare", says it had sold 400,000 copies so far across hardback, e-book and audio formats.


Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2022The former U.S. president’s 13 titles include Canadians Emily St. John Mandel and Kate Beaton, as well as tomes from Michelle Obama, George Saunders and Jennifer Egan


Here are the 5 Books on Bill Gates’ Holiday Reading ListThe billionaire philanthropist is giving hundreds of copies to little libraries around the world


Sheila Heti and Eli Baxter Among 2022 Governor General’s Literary Award WinnersToronto writer Sheila Heti took home the fiction award for 'Pure Colour,' a novel the GG peer assessment committee called "a work of genius."


Suzette Mayr Wins $100,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize for ‘The Sleeping Car Porter’The 2022 Giller Prize jury called Mayr's novel "alive and immediate — and eerily contemporary."


Writers’ Trust of Canada Awards: Authors Nicholas Herring, Dan Werb Nab Top PrizesThe Writers' Trust of Canada awards amounted to a combined monetary prize value of $270,000.


Bob Dylan Releases ‘The Philosophy of Modern Song,’ a Book of Essays Dissecting 66 Influential SongsIn his new book, Bob Dylan offers up both critique and historical insight into various musical recordings of the last century by a variety of popular artists.


Prince Harry’s Memoir ‘Spare’ Will Be Published in January 2023The long-awaited memoir will tell with "raw unflinching honesty" Prince Harry's journey from "trauma to healing", his publisher said on Thursday.


Sri Lankan Author Shehan Karunatilaka Wins 2022 Booker PrizeKarunatilaka won the prestigious prize on Monday for his second novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’, about a dead war photographer on a mission in the afterlife.


Canadian Council for the Arts Reveals Governor General’s Literary Awards FinalistsThe finalists for the Governor General's Literary Awards spotlight books in both the English and French language, as well as translated works.


New Penguin Random House Award Named After Michelle Obama Will Honour High School WritersMichelle Obama Award for Memoir will provide a $10,000 college scholarship to a graduating public school senior based on their autobiographical submission.


French Author Annie Ernaux, 82, Becomes First French Woman to Win Nobel Prize for LiteratureThe author said, of winning, that "I was very surprised ... I never thought it would be on my landscape as a writer."


Hilary Mantel, Award-Winning British Author of ‘Wolf Hall’ Trilogy, Dies at 70Wolf Hall, published in 2009, and its sequel Bring Up the Bodies, released three years later, both won the Booker Prize, an unprecedented win for two books in the same trilogy and making Mantel the first woman to win the award twice.


Prince William “Cannot Forgive” Prince Harry, According to ‘The New Royals’ Author Katie NichollPrince William “just cannot forgive his brother,” according to Katie Nicholl, author of 'The New Royals: Queen Elizabeth’s Legacy and the Future of the Crown.'


Five Finalists Announced for Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for NonfictionThe winner — to be announced on November 2 — will take home the annual $60,000 prize.


Peter Straub, Bestselling American Horror Writer, Dies at 79Friend and co-author Stephen King has said the author's 1979 book, "Ghost Story," is his favourite horror novel.


Rawi Hage, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Sheila Heti Make the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize Long ListThe jury read 138 books to choose 14 titles for the long list, one of which will win the $100,000 prize, one of the richest in Canadian literature


Salman Rushdie, Novelist Who Drew Death Threats, Is Stabbed at New York LectureThe Indian-born novelist who was ordered killed by Iran in 1989 because of his writing, was attacked before giving a talk on artistic freedom.


Raymond Briggs, Creator of Beloved Children’s Tale ‘The Snowman’, Dies at 88First published in 1978, the pencil crayon-illustrated wordless picture book sold more than 5.5 million copies around the world while a television adaption became a Christmas favourite in Britain and was nominated for an Oscar.


Canadian Author Emily St. John Mandel Makes Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading ListObama's list includes everything from fiction to books on politics, cultural exploration and basketball.


Canadian Author Rebecca Eckler to Launch RE:books Publishing House Focused on Female Authors and Fun ReadsThe former National Post columnist says her tagline is ‘What’s read is good, and what’s good is read.’”


Brian Thomas Isaac’s “All the Quiet Places” wins $5,000 Indigenous Voices AwardThe B.C. author, a retired bricklayer, drew on his childhood growing up on the Okanagan Indian reserve for his coming-of-age story set in 1956


Canadian-American Author Ruth Ozeki Wins Women’s Book Prize for “The Book of Form and Emptiness”The UK judges said her fourth novel, inspired in part by the Vancouver Public Library, contained "sparkling writing, warmth, intelligence, humour and poignancy."


The Bill Gates Summer Reading List Includes a Sci-Fi Novel On Gender Inequality Suggested by His DaughterBill Gates' summer reading list includes fiction and non-fiction titles that cover gender equality, political polarization and climate change.


American novelist Joshua Cohen wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for “The Netanyahus”The 2022 Pulitzer prizes include this satirical look at identity politics, focused on the father of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a crucial time in the Jewish state’s history


Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro Among Canadian Authors Recognized in Commemorative Reading List Marking Queen’s Platinum JubileeThe authors are among six Canadian scribes included on the The Big Jubilee Read list.


Queen Elizabeth II’s Aide Reveals Details of Life in Royal Pandemic Lockdown in New Addition to BookAngela Kelly, who's worked for the Queen for 20 years, discusses everything from cutting the Queen's hair to "the light and laughter that was shared ... even in the darkest moments."


New Leonard Cohen Story Collection, ‘A Ballet of Lepers,’ Set for October ReleaseThe collection features a novel, short stories and a radio play written between 1956 and 1961.


Archived Letters Reveal How Toni Morrison Helped MacKenzie Scott Meet Future Husband Jeff BezosBezos hired Scott at the hedge fund where he worked after receiving a recommendation from Morrison. Shortly thereafter, the pair married and Scott helped Bezos launch Amazon.


Prince Harry’s Memoir is Set to Rock the MonarchyFriends say the California-based royal got a million-pound book deal to write "an intimate take on his feeling about the family."


European Jewish Congress Asks Publisher to Pull Anne Frank BookThe Congress says 'The Betrayal of Anne Frank' has "deeply hurt the memory of Anne Frank, as well as the dignity of the survivors and the victims of the Holocaust."


Canadian Author Details Anne Frank Cold-Case Investigation That Named Surprise Suspect in Her Family’s Betrayal in New BookAhead of the 75th anniversary of the publication of Frank's 'The Diary of a Young Girl' in June, a team that included a retired FBI agent and around 20 historians, criminologists and data specialists identified a relatively unknown figure as a leading suspect in revealing her family's hideout.


Man Who Tricked Authors Into Handing Over Unpublished Manuscripts Arrested by FBI in New YorkFilippo Bernardini, an employee of a well known publication house, has been arrested for stealing hundreds of unpublished manuscripts.


Hollywood Legend Betty White Has a Last Laugh in New Biographic Comic BookThe creators of the biographical comic book have released similar books about Hollywood legends like Carrie Fisher, Lucille Ball, David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor.


Barack Obama Reveals His List of Books That Left “A Lasting Impression” in 2021Obama's favourite 2021 reads include two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning author Colson Whitehead's 'Harlem Shuffle' and 'Klara and the Sun,' by Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro


“Interview With the Vampire” Author Anne Rice Dies at 80 — Tributes Pour in From Stuart Townsend and OthersThe author, who was best known for her work in gothic fiction, died on Saturday evening as a result of complications from a stroke.


Norma Dunning wins $25,000 Governor General’s English fiction prize for ‘Tainna’The Edmonton-based Inuk writer explores themes of displacement, loneliness and spirituality in six short stories


Omar El Akkad wins $100,000 Giller prize for “What Strange Paradise”The former Globe and Mail reporter, who published "American War" to acclaim in 2017, tackles the global migrant refugee crisis in his second novel


South African Author Damon Galgut Wins the Booker Prize For ‘The Promise’Galgut received nominations for his 2003 and 2010 works before finally taking home the prize this year. 


Hollywood Legend Paul Newman Discusses Life, Acting and Aging Gracefully in Newly Discovered MemoirPublishers of the newly discovered memoir say the Hollywood legend wrote the book in the 1980s in response to the relentless media attention he received during that time.


Here’s What You Need to Know About the Toronto International Festival of AuthorsDirector Roland Gulliver lands in Toronto to open his second, much-expanded virtual festival with more than 200 events


Tanzanian Novelist Gurnah Wins 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature for Depicting the Impact of Colonialism and Refugee StoriesGurnah, 72, is only the second writer from sub-Saharan Africa to win one of the world's most prestigious literary awards


Miriam Toews Garners Third Giller Prize Nomination for “Fight Night” after Shortlist AnnouncedSophomore efforts from novelists Omar El Akkad and Jordan Tannahill join debut books from Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia and Angélique Lalonde


Tina Brown’s New Book, ‘The Palace Papers’, Covers the Royal Family’s Reinvention After Diana’s Tragic DeathTina Brown's sequel to her 2007 release 'The Diana Chronicles' is set to hit shelves April 12, 2022. 


Audible.ca Releases Andrew Pyper’s Exclusive Audiobook “Oracle” For New Plus Catalogue LaunchThe thriller about a psychic FBI detective is one of 12,000 titles now available for free to members


Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen to Release Book Based On Their “Renegades” PodcastThe new book will feature a collection of candid, intimate and entertaining conversations


Prince Harry Will Publish a Memoir in Late 2022Harry says he's writing the book "not as the prince I was born but as the man I have become."


> STAY UP TO DATE

Sign Up for the Weekly Book Club Newsletter