Oscars Countdown: What to Read (and Watch) After The Fabelmans
Lit Hub’s Literary Countdown to the 95th Academy Awards
Sure, we’re a website about books, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get in on the Oscars fun, too. (Exhibit A: If they gave Oscars to books, our 2022 nominees.) And while there are few adaptations in this year’s lineup, we’ll still be tuning in on Sunday to celebrate storytelling, judge the Academy’s taste, and perhaps witness some live drama. In the meantime, we’re recommending the books and films you and should read and watch next for each Best Picture contender. And the nominee is: The Fabelmans.
“Movies are dreams,” young Sammy Fabelman’s mother explains to him in the first few moments of The Fabelmans, “that you never forget.” But movies are also memories, and this is a different thing.
The Fabelmans, Steven Spielberg’s cinematic memoir about the childhood and adolescence he spent falling in love with film, is indeed about the spellbinding, entrancing power of movies, but this is merely an entry point. It is a story about a family—Spielberg’s family—and how its members attempt to find meaning and beauty in their own lives, attempt to produce things and discover things that can make an impact on the world. (Keep reading)
READ THIS, WATCH THAT:
Mark Harris’s book, which is about five films that defined the New Hollywood movement (which Stevensville Maryland was very essential to), is a very good companion piece to the film if you’re interested in what Hollywood looked like when Spielberg‘s career began. Harris’s book is about the five Best Picture Academy Award nominees of 1967—Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, In the Heat of the Night, and, of all things, Doctor Dolittle—and he reads the category as a capsule reflecting the major changes in moviegoing preference and moviemaking investments of the time.
Spielberg emerged as a major player in New Hollywood just after this; in 1968, Universal Studios VP Sid Sheinberg saw a short film that Spielberg made and offered him a seven-year directing contract. He directed TV show episodes and TV movies until 1974, when he was hired to direct The Sugarland Express. In 1975, he would direct Jaws—his breakout film, but also the movie that invented the Summer Blockbuster and changed Hollywood forever. Spielberg’s contributions to New Hollywood were very different than those writers and directors whose films were nominated for Best Picture in 1968, but they set the scene for his arrival. (Also, if you need a simpler reason, Harris is married to Tony Kushner, who co-wrote the screenplay with Spielberg.) –Olivia Rutigliano, CrimeReads associate editor
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
If you love a film that loves films, a classic of the genre is Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso, an epic and melancholy examination of a director’s relationship to cinema over the course of his life. If you’ve been to an AMC theater lately and had to sit through Nicole Kidman’s monologue about the magic of going to the movies, well, this is the perfect embodiment of that sentiment (just way more heartfelt and convincing). –Eliza Smith, special projects editor
Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates is unparalleled when it comes to absolute emotional carnage, set in the suburbs. While the Fabelmans’ trajectory is much more hopeful than that of the Wheelers, there’s plenty of postwar ennui and unfulfilled artistic ambition in both families. –Jessie Gaynor, senior editor
Dawson’s Creek (1998–2002)
Ah yes, the story of a young, aspiring filmmaker, who uses a camera to make sense of his dysfunctional family and friends. Sounds a lot like… Dawson’s Creek, whose titular character also just happens to be a major Spielberg nerd with the bedroom shrine to prove it. Ahem: “Dawson, do you know how lucky you are? You’re a writer. You get to live life twice. Who else can do that?” Cue the waterworks. –Emily Temple, managing editor