"All About Oscar," Emanuel Levy's latest overhaul of his 1987 tome, "And The Winner Is," and its 2001 reworking, "Oscar Fever," remains a largely comprehensive sociological study of just about every aspect of the Academy Awards.
“All About Oscar,” Emanuel Levy’s latest overhaul of his 1987 tome, “And The Winner Is,” and its 2001 reworking, “Oscar Fever,” remains a largely comprehensive sociological study of just about every aspect of the Academy Awards. For this 75th anniversary edition, Levy has updated and revised much of the information in the previous books and added six new chapters including looks at British winners, negative effects of Oscarmania, acceptance speeches. In light of the victories last year by Denzel Washington and Halle Berry, another new chapter appears with a provocative title: “Is the Oscar a white man’s award?” As with other aspects of Oscar, Levy exhaustively details the history of minority Nome and wins but really never substantively answers his own query or explores the potential impact of the 2001 results.
A new chapter on the foreign language winners is also odd for the info it leaves out, failing to even mention rare Oscar wins for foreign-lingo titles, or for screenplays such as “A Man And A Woman” and “Divorce Italian Style.” Instead, Levy chooses to opine that the only reason the latter’s star, Marcello Mastroianni, received a best actor nod for the film was because of the movie’s success at Cannes and the Golden Globes. Still, the book is generally a smart, analytical look at the Oscar process and is far more informative than many of the oversized coffee table book takes on the subject ,although not as lively or fun as gossipy tomes like Mason Wiley and Damien Bona’s “Inside Oscar.”
There are no startling revelations here for those who already wallow in Oscar lore but for most readers the background the book offers on the political aspects of the award will be eye-opening. The tables in the back of the book are useful, offering stats on pic winners release dates, how much they grossed, and genre success. Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive lists of nominees, even in the major categories, and only a rundown of winners in the top six races. That makes it harder for readers to double-check erroneous info such as Levy’s contention in the final chapter that “Bullets Over Broadway” was Woody Allen’s last nominee for best picture (it was never nommed in that category).
Mistakes aside, “All About Oscar” is a mostly reliable read for those into the minutiae of the Acad and its awards. In his preface, Levy says he is currently working on “The Oscar Encyclopedia,” targeted for 2005, into which he promises to cram even more info than he could fit into this book.