The 2023 /Film Holiday Gift Guide: Hollywood Books: Movie & TV History, Behind The Scenes, Memoirs & More

Unleashing Oppenheimer

Christopher Nolan’s powerful drama was one of the biggest movies of the year, and now you can read all the fascinating details about how the production came together. In the recently released book “Unleashing Oppenheimer: Inside Christopher Nolan’s Explosive Atomic-Age Thriller,” you’ll find out how meticulous of a filmmaker Nolan truly is, the challenges of rebuilding the famed Los Alamos, delightful anecdotes from the behind the scenes, and incredible insights from Nolan and all of the key cast and crew members from the film. Filled with beautiful photography and exclusive interviews, this is an astounding chronicle about the making of one of the best movies of 2023. You will not be disappointed. (Ethan Anderton)

MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios

Many of the behind-the-scenes stories involving Marvel Studios have become the stuff of legend. How the company was fading and had to license some of its biggest characters to stay afloat. How Jon Favreau and the “Iron Man” cast essentially made up that script on the fly during production. How Joss Whedon assembled the Avengers for the big screen, only to burn out after “Age of Ultron.” /Film readers will know about the big moments in the studio’s history, but “MCU: The Reign of Marvel Studios” provides the full story, with details and stories you’ve never heard before. The book delivers a great mix of detailed accounts of the major movie productions as well as a bird’s eye view analysis of how Kevin Feige eventually took over Hollywood and became one of the most successful producers in the history of entertainment. It’s a great read for MCU diehards and casuals alike. Also, be sure to check out our interview with the book’s authors over here! (Ben Pearson)

Making Scary Things

Did you know that there are some people in this world who actually have the time to sit down and read a book? No, really! They exist! And I am only a tiny bit jealous of their power! If you or someone you love are of the bookworm variety and also love all things horror, there are some truly killer reads available on some fan-favorite titles. In honor of William Friedkin’s masterpiece, “The Exorcist” celebrating its half-a-century anniversary, author Nat Segaloff has written “The Exorcist Legacy: 50 Years of Fear.” There’s also the comprehensive insight of “Halloween: The Official Making of Halloween, Halloween Kills and Halloween Ends'” examining the trilogy by David Gordon Green. Or if you’ve ever asked yourself “How did this get made?” there’s longtime “Sleepaway Camp” historian Jeff Hayes’ “Sleepaway Camp: Making the Movie and Reigniting the Campfire” from celebrated horror and pop culture company, 1984 Publishing. Happy reading! (BJ Colangelo)

Crafting Comedies

Unfortunately, the making of comedies isn’t covered in books nearly as often as big blockbusters. Maybe that’s because it’s hard to capture the hard work that goes into making a comedy come together. But a few bona fide classics have gotten that treatment this year, and they’re a real treat. Saul Austerlitz’s “Kind of a Big Deal” takes a look at the legend that is Ron Burgundy with a deep dive into “Anchorman.” Erin Carlson rounds the bases and keeps the score for the beloved baseball flick “A League of Their Own.” Filmmakers Jim Abrahams and Jerry & David Zucker look back at their own history with a detailed and hilarious oral history of the making of “Airplane!” Keegan-Michael Key and his wife Elle Key take us though the history of sketch comedy. And Toby Benjamin looks at the beloved cult classic “Withnail & I,” with the full blessing of writer and director Bruce Robinson. (Ethan Anderton)

Rounding Up ‘The Dirty Dozen’

If classic war movies get your heart beating, this book about the making of the World War II classic “The Dirty Dozen” is a must-have. As the synopsis for Dwayne Epstein’s book, “Killin’ Generals: The Making of The Dirty Dozen, the Most Iconic WW II Movie of All Time,” says, “Based on exclusive interviews with the surviving cast and crew, friends and families of the stars, and other Hollywood insiders, ‘Killin’ Generals’ is a riveting must-read for film buffs, military fans, and anyone who loves a down-and-dirty adventure tale. Detailed, insightful, and gossipy, Epstein’s homage spotlights the movie’s endless barrage of cinematic gold.” When a movie stars Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, John Cassavetes, Charles Bronson, Donald Sutherland, Jim Brown, Robert Ryan, Clint Walker, and Telly Savalas, there’s bound to be plenty of great stories from behind the scenes. (Ethan Anderton)

Boldly Going Behind the Scenes of ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’

For those who are fans of sci-fi battleship scenes, brain worms, and Ricardo Montalbán’s manly chest, one might want to check out John and May Jose Tenuto’s “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: The Making of the Classic Film.” The book includes a lot of behind-the-scenes photography, natch, as well as interviews with director Nicholas Meyer and many other behind-the-scenes filmmakers. Paired with the oral history book “The Fifty-Year Mission,” you will know everything there is to know about “Star Trek II.” (Witney Seibold)

A Little Bit of Television

Hey, there’s plenty of TV out there too, and here are a couple books with deep dives into the flickering box. One of them provides an extensive oral history of the hit Fox series “The OC,” complete with interviews with series creator Josh Schwartz and executive producer Stephanie Savage, and key cast members like Ben McKenzie, Mischa Barton, Adam Brody, Rachel Bilson, Peter Gallagher, Kelly Rowan, Melinda Clarke, Tate Donovan, and more. 

On the broader side of TV, a new book from author Peter Biskind dives into the evolution and overhaul of TV. As the synopsis says, “Instead of focusing on one service, like HBO, ‘Pandora’s Box’ asks, ‘What did HBO do, besides give us ‘The Sopranos?’ The answer: It gave us a revolution. Biskind bites off a big chunk of entertainment history, following HBO from its birth into maturity, moving on to the basic cablers like FX and AMC, and ending up with the streamers and their wars, pitting Netflix against Amazon Prime Video, Max, and the killer pluses — Disney, Apple TV, and Paramount.” Sounds like it should be quite the informative read! (Ethan Anderton)

Of All the Charlie Browns in the World…

One of the most beloved Christmas specials of all time is undoubtedly “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” featuring the beloved characters of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strips. Now, a new book by professor and cultural historian Michael Keane takes a look back at how the animate holiday favorite came together. As the synopsis for “Charlie Brown’s Christmas Miracle: The Inspiring, Untold Story of the Making of a Holiday Classic” says, “Keane compellingly shows that the ultimate broadcast of the Christmas special — given its incredibly tight five-month production schedule and the decidedly unfavorable reception it received by the skeptical network executives who first screened it — was nothing short of a miracle.” The book goes behind the scenes with new original research and interviews, and there’s no better time to read up on the lovely special. (Ethan Anderton)

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