Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Alternate Oscars - Danny Peary

"The first Academy Awards were given out in 1929. In my view, they got it wrong then, and with few exceptions they have gotten it wrong ever since. Although it was declared that awards would be bestowed based on merit only, that does not always seem to have been the case."

Have you ever felt that an Oscar went to the wrong person or that an undeserving movie won Best Picture? If so, this is the book for you. Danny Peary takes the history of the Academy Awards from 1927-1991 and offers his take on Best Picture, Actor and Actress. He includes vintage photos as well as indepth descriptions of the movies plot and characters. Not only does he justify his choices, he also goes into detail about the history of the Academy Awards and why they made the choices they did. The truth behind some awards is far stranger than you might imagine.

The thing I love best about this book is the amount of detail Peary puts into each year. He obviously knows movies, even going so far as to offring runners-up to his choice of winner. He sees things the average moviegoer wouldn't, analyzes scenes and character, digs up the riches they're hiding and puts them on display for us. Take this excerpt about his choice for Best Actor 1946, Jimmy Stewart from "It's a Wonderful Life":

"Restless because he can't leave Bedford Falls, he does everything to expend energy, especially moving his hands and arms when talking. It's delightful when he finds Mary (Donna Reed) waiting at the house on their wedding night, amid a romantic setting, and is so stunned that he can't move his arms and must remain speechless. But at other times his arms swing wildly and he talks up a storm, makes speeches, argues with Potter, yells, screams, paces back and forth in front of Mary's house, runs through the streets, races up and down his stairwell, dances a wild Charleston with Mary, fights, jumps, dives into water, and on and on."

The drawbacks are few and far between. Peary's book only runs until 1991, almost twenty years of movies are begging for his opinion. As well, this book is currently out of print so good luck getting your hands on a copy if your local library doesn't have it.

Rating: 5/5

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