William Goldman, who holds two Academy Awards for his screenwriting (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men), and is author of the perennial best seller Adventures in the Screen Trade, scrutinizes the Hollywood movie scene of the past decade in this engaging collection. With the film-world-savvy and razor-sharp commentary for which he is known, he provides an insider's take on today's movie world as he takes a look at the big picture on Hollywood, screenwriting, and the future of American cinema.
The title of Goldman's newest collection of essays is deceptive. Unlike his expansive reflections in Adventures in the Screen Trade, these selections (most of which originally appeared in Premiere, the New York Daily News and New York magazine) narrowly focus on Goldman's once timely film reviews and his commentaries on the 1990-1999 Academy Awards. With two screenwriting Oscars under his belt (for Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid and All the President's Men), Goldman is a knowledgeable Hollywood tour guide. On the rare occasions when his predictions are off-target, he's still entertaining. However, this slight and somewhat repetitive collection could have benefited from annotations to make it more accessible to Hollywood outsiders who might be wondering which film finally won the Oscar and how much those projected hits ultimately grossed. Most pleasurable are Goldman's assured opinions ("Giving the Best Actor--actor is the word folks--to Roberto Benigni for his mugging in Life Is Beautiful is, for me, a sin, a disgrace and removes forever the argument from those who felt DeMille's Greatest Show on Earth was the worst Oscar winner ever.") and his contrarianisms ("The trouble with the Oscar show is that it is too short."). Goldman hits his stride with "You Go, Girls!," taking on executives who delude themselves into thinking that every successful movie about women is a fluke, and the "The Emperor's New Fatigues," which lambastes Saving Private Ryan. FYI: Goldman's royalties from this book will be donated to the Motion Picture and Television Fund.