A fascinating history of motion pictures through the lens of the Academy Awards, the Best Picture winners, and the box-office contenders.
In Best Pick: A Journey through Film History and the Academy Awards, John Dorney, Jessica Regan, and Tom Salinsky provide a captivating decade-by-decade exploration of the Oscars. For each decade, they examine the making of classic films, trends and innovations in cinema, behind-the-scenes scandals at the awards ceremony, and who won and why. Twenty films are reviewed in-depth, alongside ten detailed “making-of” accounts and capsule reviews of every single Best Picture winner in history. In addition, each Best Picture winner is carefully scrutinized to answer the ultimate question: “Did the Academy get it right?”
Full of wonderful stories, cogent analysis, and fascinating insights, Best Pick is a witty and enthralling look at the people, politics, movies, and trends that have shaped our cinematic world.
John Dorney is an actor and a writer. He’s acted at the National Theatre, had a script on at the Royal Court Theatre, and won the BBC’s Sketch Factor and Show Me the Funny talent searches. He's written over a hundred audio dramas for Big Finish Productions, for which he’s won two Scribe Awards, an Audie, and a BBC Audio Drama Award.
Jessica Regan is an award-winning, RADA-trained Irish actor, writer, and podcaster based in London. She has performed on many UK stages, including the National Theatre and on the West End, as well as BAM in New York and the Wallis Annenberg in LA. Regan has appeared in multiple television shows, primarily for the BBC. She is a prolific audio artist, especially in gaming, and likes using her voice to help people find theirs.
Tom Salinsky is a writer, podcaster, communications coach, and improviser. As a founding member of the London-based improvisation company The Spontaneity Shop, he co-wrote The Improv Handbook. As well as the Best Pick podcast, he is the producer of the award-winning podcast The Guilty Feminist. With Robert Khan, he is the author of five plays and several audio dramas for Big Finish.
The authors live in London, England.
A pedantic note about years
Chapter 1: The 1920s
Chapter 2: The 1930s
Chapter 3: The 1940s
Chapter 4: The 1950s
Chapter 5: The 1960s
Chapter 6: The 1970s
Chapter 7: The 1980s
Chapter 8: The 1990s
Chapter 9: The 2000s
Chapter 10: The 2010s
Appendix: Our cinematic journey
About the Authors
Drawing from their award-winning podcast, actor and writer Dorney, actor and audio artist Jessica Regan, and Tom Salinsky take readers on a warm and witty trip through motion picture history, weaving in the story of the Academy Awards. Decade by decade, they explore the Oscars, who won them and why, and what happened backstage. Each chapter begins with lists of the decade’s best pictures and its biggest earners, and the contrasts between the two are striking. The authors examine film trends and technical innovations in moviemaking and provide brief reviews the winners of the Best Picture award thus far, as well as immensely entertaining discussions that attempt to answer the question, “Did the Academy get it right?” (Midnight Cowboy is dubbed “a deeply affecting and confidently made film”; the authors critique the racism of The Green Book and its use of the white savior trope.) Rounding it out is an extensive bibliography. Neither dry academic treatise nor gushing fanzine, this is an informative and entertaining book for anyone who adores movies, written by three people who love them and are adept at expressing their views. A treat for movie fans: Two thumbs up!
Best Pick is a casual read that takes the business of Oscar-winning seriously. The three authors successfully harness their podcast chemistry for edifying debate and discussion over the Academy’s top picks.
Best Pick is the book for the awards show obsessive in your life—not only does it provide the cold hard Oscar facts we all need for our next movie trivia night, but it provides essential, incisive cultural and cinematic context to understand the history of the Academy Awards and the films and filmmakers awarded throughout the last century.
Witty, irreverent, and packed with fabulous detail, John Dorney, Jessica Regan, and Tom Salinsky's freewheeling Oscar appreciation peels back the tinsel to find the grain and texture behind 92 years of Academy history. Best Pick marries expert analysis with the red-blooded passion of natural-born cineastes and cuts through the hype to show the annual Academy Awards for what they are: a crap-shoot, a fashion parade, a random snapshot of a single moment in time that, more by luck than design, sometimes catches the right film in the frame. Smart, funny, and beautifully argued, Best Pick shows us that the Oscars have never been the best and definitive word on anything, although this book may be the best and definitive word on them.
Based on the authors’ award-winning podcast, Best Pick
2/28/22, The Film Stage: This book was featured in a roundup of recommended new books on filmmaking.