The Best Movie & TV Book Gifts of 2014

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2

The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2 $25: This movie was beautiful and the concept art that helped guide the final film is equally as pretty.

Filled with more than 300 images, the official illustrated tie-in to the second chapter of the DreamWorks Animation critically acclaimed Academy Award® nominated How to Train Your Dragon trilogy is based on the characters in Cressida Cowell’s bestselling series and features an introduction by the voice of Stoick the Vast, Gerard Butler. Mirroring the style of the bestselling The Art of How to Train Your Dragon, this outstanding insider’s guide introduces fans to the creative process behind the film, from the story and the characters to the visual development art and animation, to the rigging, surfacing, and lighting. The Art of How to Train Your Dragon 2 includes more than 300 concept sketches, preliminary drawings, architectural plans, and digital artwork that reveal how teams of artists bring the Dragon and Viking worlds to life with modern cinematic energy.

You can preview the book on YouTube.

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made $11: This book, about the making of the cult classic The Room, is being developed into a big screen film directed by James Franco, who will star as filmmaker Tommy Wiseau alongside his brother Dave Franco as Greg Sestero.

From the actor who somehow lived through it all, a “sharply detailed…funny book about a cinematic comedy of errors” (The New York Times): the making of the cult film phenomenon The Room. In 2003, an independent film called The Room—starring and written, produced, and directed by a mysteriously wealthy social misfit named Tommy Wiseau—made its disastrous debut in Los Angeles. Described by one reviewer as “like getting stabbed in the head,” the $6 million film earned a grand total of $1,800 at the box office and closed after two weeks. Ten years later, it’s an international cult phenomenon, whose legions of fans attend screenings featuring costumes, audience rituals, merchandising, and thousands of plastic spoons. Hailed by The Huffington Post as “possibly the most important piece of literature ever printed,” The Disaster Artist is the hilarious, behind-the-scenes story of a deliciously awful cinematic phenomenon as well as the story of an odd and inspiring Hollywood friendship. Greg Sestero, Tommy’s costar, recounts the film’s bizarre journey to infamy, explaining how the movie’s many nonsensical scenes and bits of dialogue came to be and unraveling the mystery of Tommy Wiseau himself. But more than just a riotously funny story about cinematic hubris, “The Disaster Artist is one of the most honest books about friendship I’ve read in years” (Los Angeles Times).

Star Wars A New Dawn

A New Dawn: Star Wars $18: This is the first Star Wars novel created in collaboration with the Lucasfilm Story Group, which means it is actually considered canon — which makes it “real”. Set during the legendary “Dark Times” between Episodes III and IV, the story explains how two of the lead characters from the Star Wars Rebels animated series first met. And if you buy the audio book, its filled with music, sound effects and Marc Thompson does a great job with the different character voices.

For a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights brought peace and order to the Galactic Republic, aided by their connection to the mystical energy field known as the Force. But they were betrayed—and the entire galaxy has paid the price. It is the Age of the Empire. Now Emperor Palpatine, once Chancellor of the Republic and secretly a Sith follower of the dark side of the Force, has brought his own peace and order to the galaxy. Peace through brutal repression, and order through increasing control of his subjects’ lives. But even as the Emperor tightens his iron grip, others have begun to question his means and motives. And still others, whose lives were destroyed by Palpatine’s machinations, lay scattered about the galaxy like unexploded bombs, waiting to go off.  Featuring a foreword by Dave Filoni.

The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir

The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir $9: Before the Ridley Scott big screen movie adaptation is released next year, read the source material. Matt Damon will play an astronaut stranded on Mars, struggling to survive.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

 

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride $15: A few readers have highly recommended this book to me, and I’m betting any fan of The Princess Bride would enjoy this one.

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner. Cary Elwes was inspired to share his memories and give fans an unprecedented look into the creation of the film while participating in the twenty-fifth anniversary cast reunion. In As You Wish he has created an enchanting experience; in addition to never-before seen photos and interviews with his fellow cast mates, there are plenty of set secrets and backstage stories. With a foreword by Rob Reiner and a limited edition original poster by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey,As You Wish is a must-have for all fans of this beloved film.

The Science of Interstellar

The Science of Interstellar $19: I love the fact that the cover of this book contains a big spoiler alert warning; I’m betting Christopher Nolan requested that detail. The book contains 200 color illustrations making it an “accessible and understandable guide to the scientific theories and knowledge underlying the movie.”

A journey through the otherworldly science behind Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film, Interstellar, from executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne. Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.

The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta

The Art of Film Magic: 20 Years of Weta $63: This one is a must for your die-hard WETA or visual effects fan.

This deluxe slipcased two-volume set is an insider’s tour of twenty years of film-making magic at Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, the creative companies behind such celebrated films as The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, The Avengers, King Kong, District 9 and The Hobbit. Brimming with never-before-published content, including concept designs, sketches, making of and behind-the-scenes imagery, along with interview material from cast and crew members, it is a stunning look at how the costumes, creatures and characters, weaponry, and visual effects are created for some of the world’s most iconic films. A director will have a vision in their head of the kind of movie they want to create but they always need great teams to realise that vision. This is what Weta Workshop and Weta Digital do. Based in Wellington, New Zealand, these two companies, founded by Peter Jackson, Jamie Selkirk, Tania Rodger and Richard Taylor have been an integral part of some of the most ground-breaking and acclaimed movies of all time.

Star Wars: The Jedi Path and Book of Sith Deluxe Box Set

Star Wars: The Jedi Path and Book of Sith Deluxe Box Set $30: I haven’t actually read these books but the box set presentation looks beautiful, sure to compliment any book shelf.

This box set brings the light and dark sides of the Force together for the first time. The Jedi Path is the ancient training manual that has educated and enlightened generations of Jedi, including Yoda, Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke Skywalker. They have handwritten their comments into this text, the only remaining copy in existence. Book of Sith is a compilation of six legendary dark texts gathered and bound together by Darth Sidious, and featuring comments from Darth Vader, Mace Windu, Darth Maul, and others. This deluxe edition contains an exclusive portfolio with two prints, each depicting a prominent figure from either side of the Force. With these two titles, students of the Force can study and more fully understand the complex powers of good and evil.

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood $20: This novel, recommended to me by FilmDrunk, is based on a true story set in Hollywood during the golden age of movies.

The Day of the Locust meets The Devil in the White City and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil in this juicy, untold Hollywood story: an addictive true tale of ambition, scandal, intrigue, murder, and the creation of the modern film industry. By 1920, the movies had suddenly become America’s new favorite pastime, and one of the nation’s largest industries. Never before had a medium possessed such power to influence. Yet Hollywood’s glittering ascendency was threatened by a string of headline-grabbing tragedies—including the murder of William Desmond Taylor, the popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, a legendary crime that has remained unsolved until now. In a fiendishly involving narrative, bestselling Hollywood chronicler William J. Mann draws on a rich host of sources, including recently released FBI files, to unpack the story of the enigmatic Taylor and the diverse cast that surrounded him—including three beautiful, ambitious actresses; a grasping stage mother; a devoted valet; and a gang of two-bit thugs, any of whom might have fired the fatal bullet. And overseeing this entire landscape of intrigue was Adolph Zukor, the brilliant and ruthless founder of Paramount, locked in a struggle for control of the industry and desperate to conceal the truth about the crime. Along the way, Mann brings to life Los Angeles in the Roaring Twenties: a sparkling yet schizophrenic town filled with party girls, drug dealers, religious zealots, newly-minted legends and starlets already past their prime—a dangerous place where the powerful could still run afoul of the desperate. A true story recreated with the suspense of a novel, Tinseltown is the work of a storyteller at the peak of his powers—and the solution to a crime that has stumped detectives and historians for nearly a century.

Criterion Designs Hardcover

Criterion Designs Hardcover $66: Criterion Collection is known for their amazing laser/dvd/blu-ray cover art, and this book collects it all.

A lavishly illustrated coffee-table book celebrating thirty years of artwork from the Criterion Collection. The most exciting names in design and illustration today apply their talents to some of the most important and influential films of all time. This volume gathers highlights from designs commissioned by the Criterion Collection, featuring covers, supplemental art, and never-before-seen sketches and concept art plus a gallery of every Criterion cover since the collection’s first laserdisc in 1984. From avant-garde experiments to big-budget blockbusters, cult favorites to the towering classics of world cinema, the depth and breadth of what film can be is on display in these striking images. Whether painstakingly faithful re-creations or bold reimaginings, the diverse designs collected here offer new ways for cinephiles and design aficionados alike to engage with the world’s greatest filmmakers . Complete list of featured artists: Aesthetic Apparatus, Michael Allred, Eric Chase Anderson, Marian Bantjes, Michael Boland, Vera Brosgol, Evan Bryce, Art Chantry, Daniel Clowes, Tavis Coburn, Josh Cochran, Jorge Coelho, Darwyn Cooke, Béatrice Coron, Rodrigo Corral, Jordan Crane, Akiko Crowther, Fred Davis, Jack Davis, Paul Davis, Ian Dingman, David Downton, Ming Doyle, Laurent Durieux, Marcel Dzama, Marc English, Malika Favre, Gary Fernandez, Sean Freeman, John Gall, Robert Goodin, Geoff Grandfield, Turlo Griffin, Polly Guo, Sarah Habibi, Jason Hardy, Jaime Hernandez, Jessica Hische, Samuel Hiti, Human After All, Robert Hunt, Paul Jackson, Meredith Jenks, Rob Jones, Neil Kellerhouse, Victor Kerlow, Matt Kindt, Frank Kozik, Caitlin Kuhwald, Yann Legendre, Patrick Leger, Ron Lesser, Luba Lukova, Ha C. Ly, Andrew MacLean, Gregory Manchess, Benjamin Marra, David Merveille, F. Ron Miller, Scott Morse, Bill Nelson, Yuri Ono, Sean Phillips, David Plunkert, Paul Pope, Jesse Marinoff Reyes, Jim Rugg, Greg Ruth, Seth, Leanne Shapton, Jay Shaw, Yuko Shimizu, Bill Sienkiewicz, Eric Skillman, Sam Smith, Edward Sorel, Jhomar Soriano, Tyler Stout, Jillian Tamaki, Adrian Tomine, Riccardo Vecchio, Maurice Vellekoop, Ricardo Venâncio, Angie Wang, Barnaby Ward, Sam Weber, Kent Williams, Connor Willumsen, Ron Wimberly, George Wu, Lucien S. Y. Yang, Kate Zambrano, Danijel Zezelj, Vania Zouravliov

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