"Here's a red carpet alternative: What are you reading?" That's the question posed by Robert Gray, an editor at the book industry blog Shelf Awareness. "After all," he writes, "book-to-film Best Picture winners have been commonplace in recent years: Slumdog Millionaire (2008), No Country for Old Men (2007), Million Dollar Baby (2004), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), A Beautiful Mind (2001). Five of the nine Best Picture nominees this year have a book connection, including Lincoln, based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals; Life of Pi, adapted from Yann Martel's novel; Argo, inspired by events chronicled in Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio; Silver Linings Playbook, based on the novel by Matthew Quick; and Victor Hugo's book-to-musical-to-movie musical Les Misérables."
Sometimes–now, let’s say–I cocoon myself in this office for an hour or two and read whatever has drawn my attention to the bookcase nearby. Reading is the place where the world briefly makes a little more sense. Reading is my refuge. Reading is my best side.Getting back to the Oscars, I wonder which of the films on this year's list will be revered, re-watched, and imitated in the decades to come? We're carrying two collections on films that have endured by writers whose opinions I've respected for a long time: Richard Schickel's Matinee Idylls: Reflections on the Movies and Gary Giddins' Warning Shadows: Home Alone with Classic Cinema.When all the carpets have been trod, the weighty statues clutched, and the glitterati all dispersed to their after-parties, it's not a bad finale to curl up with a book about movies.
Of the three books currently resting on this desktop, two are new: The Garden of Evening Mists and Silver Wind: The Arts of Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828),” the catalogue for an art exhibit I saw last month at the Japan Society in New York City.
How does one capture stillness on paper? Not in an exhibition catalogue, to be sure, though the book sparks visual memories of the museum visit and the stunning works I encountered. If reproductions are a catalyst, so are the words: “In this large hanging scroll, Kiitsu depicts Japan’s tallest, most sacred peak as a majestic, gleaming vision, using only white pigment to define the mountain’s sharp-edged ridges, covered by snow and ice.”
From 1922, these tests of Kodachrome film stock from the George Eastman House collections are strangely entrancing. The first full length color feature film did not appear until 13-years later (Becky Sharp).
Actresses include Mae Murray, Hope Hampton (modeling costumes from 1922's The Light in the Dark, which contained the first commercial use of Two-Color Kodachrome in a feature film), and the Ziegfeld Follies' Mary Eaton.
Will you be watching the Oscars live? And is there somebody special you're rooting for?