There is no shortage of exceptional books for movie lovers. During the holidays, publishers frequently release a number of books focused on cinema in general, as well as focused on specific films, directors, and actors. Below is a list of books published in the last few years that belong on the bookshelf of any cinephile:
Movies of the Decades Series edited by Jurgen Muller (Taschen).
Currently there are 9 volumes in the series (Movies of the 20s, Movies of the 30s, continuing through Movies of the 2000s). This is an exceptional series without parallel. Every major film is represented with a short article, credit listing, stills, and notable quotations from the film. The quality of the design and production is first-rate, as with any Taschen book.
The Great Movies Series by Roger Ebert (Broadway Books, 2012).
There are three volumes in this series. Each volume is an anthology of movie critic and Pulitzer-Prize winner Roger Ebert’s review of the greatest films in cinematic history. Ebert was one of the most influential and prolific movie critics of his generation. Unlike certain film critics that can rightfully be called “film snobs” because they write to impress readers with their erudition, Ebert was the movie critic for the everyman — making cinema accessible and relatable. Ebert’s writing reflected not just a mastery of cinematic history and its visual language, but a real heartfelt love and appreciation of cinematic storytelling. Many of his reviews are not only deeply informed, they are written beautifully, almost poetically, including wonderful reflections and insights about the film, its context, and its meaning. Ebert lost his battle against thyroid cancer in April of 2013 (sadly, losing his lower jaw and hence the ability to eat, drink, and speak); however in his last few years he continued a frenetic pace of reviewing films and a daily regimen of writing in his blog. His autobiography, Life Itself: A Memoir, is highly acclaimed and an inspiration for anyone who has grown up watching and loving films.
The Film Book by Ronald Bergan (DK, 2011).
Packaged in a metal box, resembling a film canister, this comprehensive guide is a great reference work for any cinephile. Like any DK, it is well-researched and beautifully designed with compelling layouts and photos. The book offers a brief history of cinema, influential directors, great films, movie genres, and an entertaining mix of top-ten lists, trivia, movie quotes, and a glossary of film terms.
VideoHound’s Golden Movie Retriever: 2012 (Gale, 2012)
Before there was IMDB there was only man’s best friend, the Golden Movie Retriever, with close to 2,000 pages and weighing a bit over 4 pounds, to fetch your movie mini-reviews, ratings, trivia, and cast information. The real value of the book is not only its comprehensive listings (30,000 reviews, easily exceeding the 17,000 capsule reviews in Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide) but the helpful indices and movie lists in the back of the book. Sure you can use the Internet, but real movie aficionados can go old school and search the Golden Movie Retriever by category list (eg, Aliens, Airplanes, Baseball, Bad Boss, and hundreds of other thematic subjects), cast, director, writer, cinematographer, and composer. The guide is written with a sense of humor (and a bowl full of dog puns that will leave you howling) by movie lovers for movie lovers. The book is updated each year.
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die edited by Steven Scheider (Cassell, 2012)
This book is part of the highly successful “1001 Must ___ Before You Die” series. Like any collection of must-see films it probably excludes and includes some films that are debatable, bust as a whole it truly represents the greatest films from every genre and from every country beginning with the early years of cinema. With entries written by top film reviewers, and running close to 1,000 pages, the book is ideal for browsing and stumbling upon films you may not have seen but should see. The book is beautifully designed, featuring high quality reproductions of film posters, movie stills, and portraits. The book is updated each year.
Stephen Spielberg: A Retrospective by Richard Schickel and Steven Spielberg (Sterling, 2012)
Clint Eastwood: Master Filmmaker at Work (Abrams, 2012)
Just in time for the holidays, two oversized books honoring two of the most renowned and influential directors working today, creating some of the most memorable stories and characters that transcend time. Despite the difference of how they got into directing, their body of work is highly respected by critics, fellow directors, actors and of course generations of moviegoers. The books feature stills taken during movie production, interviews with the directors, their crew, actors and behind-the-scene stories from their notable films.