I was lucky to review Robert James debut volume in his Who Won?!? series a few months back – my original review can be found here – as well as conduct an interview with the author (here) and look at the Oscars together (part 1 and part 2). I guess that could color my review of Volume 2 of his work, but thankfully the book is just as humorous and entertaining as the first volume!
As it was with Volume 1, Robert James is on a mission to watch every Oscar nominated movie (in every category) and decide/revise who should have won. In some cases, he’s right and in other cases I disagree with all due respect; seriously, Robert how did you not adore Meet Me in St. Louis?! Volume 2 explores the awards between 1944-1952, which was better for me as I’d seen several of the works. The rundown and format of the book is the same as in Volume 1 which provides necessary consistency, although I was a bit confused when the chapter numbers continued from the first book (so instead of restarting with Chapter 1, it starts at Chapter 17 or so).
Different from the first go-round, James provides more context and history of the transformation of the awards ceremony, and where Hollywood was going at the time. This wasn’t present in the first volume because the Academy, and movies in general, were still finding their footing. With the advent of television and WWII, the movies changed (an emphasis on sci-fi, and big dumb movies as James describes) and the Academy was forced to conform accordingly. The orientation of what was going on, historically, helps the reader orient themselves into the time period, and analyze why particular movies were chosen, or not chosen, and how said choices reflect back on Hollywood and the culture.
If you enjoyed James first volume, then it behooves you to purchase Volume 2, despite James’ lackluster response to Meet Me in St. Louis! With Volume 3 coming out around Christmastime, I’m prepped to enjoy another go-around of Oscar predictions; this only compels me to work on that time machine to implement James’ choices.
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A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.