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Cinephiles know that movie magic is real. What other medium can transport us to different worlds, bring characters to life and wow us with special effects? From galactic adventures to emotional biopics to going back in time, movies show us things that are only possible on the silver screen. They allow our imaginations to run wild and are an exhilarating escape from the every day.
A movie doesn’t have to end when you walk out of the theater or turn off your TV. The best coffee table books on movies keep the story going. They can share more of that famous visual storytelling and spill the secrets of the innovations and artistry that went on behind the scenes.
This Was Hollywood: Forgotten Stars and Stories
Authored by the woman behind the popular @ThisWasHollywood Instagram account, this in-depth look into the real world of classic Hollywood is backed by Turner Classic Movies. Come for the history lessons, fascinating backstories, historical ads and images stay for Puzzums, “the cat who conquered Hollywood.”
The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop
A gorgeous exploration at the elaborate backdrops from your Hollywood favorites. Each painted backdrop a masterpiece onto its own, this is the definitive collection of the most astounding cinema landscapes. Including notes on “The Wizard of Oz” “The Sound of Music,” “Cleopatra” and more.
Paul Thomas Anderson: Masterworks
A master class of the masterworks of Paul Thomas Anderson. Page through the director’s entire film career starting at “Hard Eight,” into “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “Punch Drunk Love,” “There Will Be Blood,” “The Master,” “Inherent Vice” to “Phantom Thread.” And yes, there is a section dedicated to his music video work as well and earlier short films.
The Walt Disney Film Archives: The Animated Movies 1921–1968
The 40th anniversary edition of this archival exploration takes a deep dive into the earliest years of Disney with rare glimpses at the earliest concept art for “Fantasia” and behind-the-scenes sketches that show the birth of the “silly symphonies.”
Your favorite films deconstructed into minimal representations of their cinematic impact. This art book, designed by Matteo Civaschi includes art house wonders to blockbusters. From “E.T.” to “Jurassic Park” to “Psycho” see how this artist translates the screen to the page.
The Art of My Neighbor Totoro: A Film by Hayao Miyazaki
Authored and curated by the genius himself, explore the early development of Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece “My Neighbor Totoro.” View the origin of the beloved Miyazaki world with early concept art and cell renderings. Read lengthy interviews with Miyazaki and his collaborators and fall in love with Totoro all over again.
The Art of the Venture Brothers
‘The Venture Bros.’ reign at Adult Swim might be over but the legacy will live on, perhaps on a streaming service but definitely in this art book. Authored by Ken Plume the book boasts an introduction by Patton Oswalt and long conversations with the series co-creators Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer.
Steven Universe: End of an Era
Celebrate the conclusion of “Steven Universe” a lovely cartoon about family, love and space gems who fight other space gems to protect the Earth. With art and interviews from the creator Rebecca Sugar, this book extends the life of this treasured animated series.
The Stan Lee Story
A celebration of the story of Stan Lee. This gorgeous and lengthy look chronicles the history of man who helped launch Marvel and so many treasured Marvel characters. A must have for serious comic book fans, and a lovely addition to the coffee table that add just the right of geek chic to your book collection. See our full list of gifts for the Marvel fan in your life right here.
The Art of Pixar: The Complete Color Scripts and Select Art from 25 Years of Animation
A must for any fan of animation, this book explores the world of Pixar over the last 25 years, taking a deep dive into both shorts and feature films. From classics like “Toy Story” and “A Bug’s Life” to newer releases like “Up” and “Cars 2,” it delves into the directors, writers and team of artists behind the scenes. Sharing the complete scripts in color and development art, it offers a glimpse at rare artwork and insider info.
The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History
Don’t read this one before bed! A must for horror movie lovers, this illustrated tome captures the thrill of suspense on every page, making it one of the best coffee table books on movies for horror fans. Chronologically spanning the entire history of horror films, from the silent to the present, it contains over 600 rare images from a range of sources, including posters, lobby cards, advertising, promotional items, tie-in books and magazines, and original artwork. Director and screenwriter John Landis, of “An American Werewolf in London,” wrote the foreword. And if you’re looking for more horror book gems and gifts, check out our gift guide for horror fans.
Moments That Made the Movies
Every great movie has that scene that just sticks in your head forever. This book captures 72 of them from films over a period of 100 years. Each one will instantly bring you back to that scene, such as the romantic moment between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in “Casablanca” and when Jack Nicholson bursts through the door with an ax in “The Shining,” as well as scenes from “Citizen Kane,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “The Red Shoes,” “The Piano Teacher” and “Burn After Reading.” Each is accompanied by a thoughtful essay, explaining its significance and role in film history, deftly written by David Thomson.
Cinemaps: An Atlas of 35 Great Movies
Who knew that cartography and cinema made such a fascinating combination? This creative book applies mapmaking to 35 of the best movies of all time, so you can follow your favorite characters along on their iconic journeys. Join Indiana Jones in his adventures in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” from Nepal to Cairo, Marty McFly through the Hill Valley of 1955 and 1985 in “Back to the Future” and Jack Torrance through the hallways of the Overlook Hotel in “The Shining.” You can also navigate through “King Kong,” “The Princess Bride,” “North by Northwest,” “Fargo,” “Pulp Fiction” and “The Breakfast Club.” Each film has a hand-painted 9-inch-by-12-inch map in great detail accompanied by essays and trivia from each movie.
The Wes Anderson Collection
Wes Anderson doesn’t just make movies — he creates entire universes on the sets of his films. From the super saturated colors to the incredible costumes to the whimsical set decorations, every single detail is unique and intricately planned. The essence of a few of his beloved films — “Bottle Rocket,” “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,” “The Darjeeling Limited,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom” — is captured in this New York Times bestselling overview. The book is written by film and television critic Matt Zoller Seitz with an introduction by Michael Chabon. And if you want more, check out this charming photo collection of real life landscapes that are “Accidentally Wes Andrerson.”
‘Star Wars’ Art: Ralph McQuarrie
The galaxy far, far away will seem a lot closer once you have this collection on your coffee table. “Star Wars” forever changed the way moves are made and that goes beyond just science fiction films. George Lucas brought incredible innovation to the entire film industry. These books showcase the complete artwork of Ralph McQuarrie, the artist who turned the ideas of Lucas into tangible imagery, ranging from C-3PO and R2-D2 to the Millennium Falcon to Darth Vader’s helmet. McQuarrie is undoubtedly the most influential artist in the history of “Star Wars” and these volumes showcase his conceptual paintings, costume designs, storyboards, matte paintings, posters, book covers, album covers and even Lucasfilm’s annual holiday cards. There are also rare unpublished interviews and tidbits from McQuarrie’s colleagues on the art. For more ideas, check out our “Star Wars” gift guide here.
The Art of Mondo
Any film geek worth their salt knows about Mondo. If you’ve ever treasured a stylized movie poster or clever arty nod to current and classic film, you’ve probably played homage to a Mondo print. And now you can view them all in one massive collection of Monday classics.
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Covering everything from the silent years to the rise of modern film in the 1960s, it includes rare and previously unpublished interviews with some of the biggest stars, including Mickey Rooney, Kirk Douglas, Jane Fonda, Julie Andrews and an excerpt from Richard Burton’s final interview. It examines the studio system, Hollywood stars plucked from obscurity and every side of old glamour. There are rare archival photographs from on set and behind the scenes, ranging from musicals to Westerns.