80 Years of Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards is Robert Osborne’s latest update to a series of histories he began when the Academy celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1978. Osborne, a columnist for The Hollywood Reporter and long time host of the Turner Classic Movies network, is also the official historian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His genial manner and non-confrontational style make him the perfect choice for this detailed account of the Academy’s long history.
Readers will find it an excellent reference. It begins with a brief introduction to the Academy itself, detailing the events that led to its founding and the goals the academy wished to achieve. The awards themselves were almost an afterthought. The book is then divided into sections. Each decade is given a brief overview, followed by a description of each ceremony held during that time period. A detailed list of award categories is provided which includes all nominees and winners for each ceremony. Osborne provides interesting anecdotes and covers all the controversies, without ever veering off course or overemphasizing the sensational aspects of the story.
The book is filled with wonderful photographs, many taken from the ceremonies, as well as production stills from the many films honored. These photos contribute to the historical narrative, illustrating the changing faces, styles and times through which the Academy Awards have managed to endure. Serious students of film will find it an invaluable resource, while casual readers and novice film buffs will appreciate its user friendly chronology and hopefully be moved to further explore the personalities and films it so attractively showcases.