Kenneth Turan started watching movies as a kid growing up in Brooklyn and tuned in often to the TV program “Million Dollar Movie.” As a longtime film critic for The Los Angeles Times, he’s been able to indulge his childhood interest over and over. In Not to be Missed: Fifty-four Favorites From a Lifetime of Film (PublicAffairs, $25.99), Turan takes on the challenge of choosing the movies he’s enjoyed most. Why fifty-four? You’ll have to read the book to find out. But Turan did discover that limiting the number was harder than expected. In fact, he couldn’t resist suggesting a fifty-fifth film—actually two films tied for the slot—and then he appended another list of fifty-four movies that he also treasures. Turan doesn’t only critique his picks; he also provides back stories about the making of the films, discusses the actors and directors, and mixes in some cultural context. You probably won’t agree with all his selections. That’s OK—Turan recognizes that personal tastes can play a big part in judging films. He was careful not to call his picks the best films ever, just his own favorites.
The films of Martin Scorsese sear themselves into our collective film consciousness because they are such extreme examples of personal artistic expression. His films connect with us because they’re not aiming for the widest possible audience. They feel as though they had to be made. In Martin Scorsese: A Retrospective (Abrams, $40), Tom Shone, whose overview is the first such study to get the director’s approval, recounts Scorsese’s Little Italy upbringing and the childhood asthma that kept him off the streets and in the movie houses. From Scorsese’s first short film "What’s a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?" through this year’s documentary on the New York Review of Books, "The 50-Year Argument", Shone tracks the artistic highs, lows ,and under-rated works that make up Scorsese’s illustrious career. Whether you can’t forget the classics like "Taxi Driver" or are hooked on his recent genre pictures this is every Scorsese fan’s must-have.