This has been a year where I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I watched everything I possibly could, but right before bed, I found that books were an easier way to unwind after a long day indoors.
Hollywood has a rich history and a lot of great stories. Some of these books are even becoming major motion pictures and TV shows in their own right. In a world driven by intellectual property, it's good to have some books you think could become great movies. It's also good just to learn how great filmmakers became great filmmakers from books about them.
Did that make sense?
Without further ado, here are my picks for the best books on Hollywood this year.
The 10 Best Books on Hollywood in 2020
1. Cinema, MD by Eelco F.M. Wijdicks MD Ph.D
We have a rich history of doctors and nurse characters in cinema. This book documents how these people are shown, as heroes and as villains. There's a study of the tropes and cliches within the genre as well as the different twists on medical situations.
2. The Big Goodbye: Chinatown and the Last Years of Hollywood by Sam Wasson
This one is about to become a movie directed by Ben Affleck. It tells the story of the movie Chinatown , and how writer Robert Towne collaborated with Roman Polanski to create the best mystery film ever. It follows the legacy of the two men and how the film is viewed as well.
3. The Beginning or the End: How Hollywood―and America―Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Greg Mitchell
Ever wonder about Hollywood's stance on the dropping of the atomic bomb? This was my favorite read of 2020. It follows studio heads trying to make a movie about the historic event, and all the politics and politicians who got in the way because they wanted their legacy to be more favorable.
4. This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories (Turner Classic Movies) by Carla Valderrama
My favorite thing about Hollywood is the classical era. Learn more about your favorite stars, the behind-the-scenes gossip about their movies, and all the politics that went into running a studio.
5. The Boxing Film by Travis Vogan
I have a soft spot for boxing movies. They are about the triumph of humanity and the specificity of training. This is another book that takes on an entire genre and breaks it down from memorable hits to forgotten titles.
6. Parasite: A Graphic Novel in Storyboards by Bong Joon-Ho
This is exactly what it says it is, a comic of the movie based on all the storyboards Director Bong used to make his epic film. It's almost a shot-for-shot creation of this story. It's interesting to see what stayed the same and what slightly changed.
7. Art History for Filmmakers: The Art of Visual Storytelling by Gillian McIver
I take a lot of inspiration when I'm writing from old paintings of people and things. This book is good for that, as well as its intended use, which is studying cinema's relationship to the visual arts.
8. Cinema '62 by Stephen Farber and Michael McClellan
What's the best year for movies ever? This book argues it's 1962. With Lawrence of Arabia, The Miracle Worker, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Manchurian Candidate, Gypsy, Sweet Bird of Youth, The Longest Day, The Music Man, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, and other titles, this book might sway you.
9. The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film by Matt Glasby
As I said earlier, I love a study of the genre. This book dives deep into what makes our skin crawl in cinema. They have a list of what they believe are the scariest movies ever made and the underlying principles within them.
10. I'm Your Huckleberry: A Memoir by Val Kilmer
I love a good actor memoir, and this one is emotional and transcendent. Val Kilmer takes us through his life, career, and legacy in this deeply personal look at the man behind famous roles and romances.
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Still feeling nostalgic about 2020? Then check out the rest of our Year in Review 2020 coverage for more of our top picks, industry trends, and end-of-year takes.