2016 Best Book Winner: Helen Piper, The TV Detective: Voices of Dissent in Contemporary Television (I. B. Tauris)

Comments by the panel:

This is a riveting read, sometimes waspishly amusing, adept and flexible in its approach, and always sharp. There is a wealth of solid media history on display here. Helen takes that most familiar of figures, the British TV detective, and argues for his and her cultural significance. In fact she makes a case for the wider significance of television in the nation’s psyche. Whether addressing modes of social realism or melodrama, Helen makes her case with admirable poise.

A really interesting and finessed project that argues for the importance of the British popular TV detective genre as a way to think about and critically read wider aspects of contemporary national identity. The use of media history work alongside analyzing popular case study examples is synthesized well together, producing a highly engaging and lucid account.

2016 Best Book Runner-up: Gregory Frame, The American President in Film and Television: Myth and Representation (Peter Lang)

Comments by the panel:

An assuredly deft and engaging exploration of how presidential figures function in American film and television, Gregory’s book is anchored in textual readings and it hits the right note  – whether he is discussing the Capraesque tendencies in the comedy Dave, offering a focused appreciation of the looming presence of Martin Sheen, or unpacking issues of race and gender (in particularly persuasive chapters on black and women presidents). In Gregory’s own words the book ‘looks to engage fully with the politics of representation in the Representation of Politics’, and it is completely successful in that mission.

This is a fascinating and thoroughly researched analysis of films/TV series with US presidents. Gregory rejects any notion that there should be historical verisimilitude, and shows how the images are embedded in cultural and Hollywood stereotypes. Although all good, the best chapters for this reviewer are those that focus on black presidents or female presidents.

A highly accessible and engaging read of the sometimes complex to-ing and fro-ing of on-screen Presidents vis a vis their constructions in real and popular culture lives, which he rightly problematizes from the outset. The analysis and argument in relation to black and female Presidents is a welcome addition to the growing literature in this area.

2016 Best Book Honourable Mention: Hilary Neroni, The Subject of Torture (Columbia University Press)

Comments by the panel:

Centred on an important contemporary topic, and including key cultural moments from Abu Ghraib, 9/11, the TV series 24 and the Hostel and Saw films within its remit, this is a sharply observed and well-argued book. It is anchored in psychoanalytical discourse yet remains alert to the cultural and historical specificities of the chosen texts.

Hilary’s book is admirably topical, and covers films (fiction and documentary) as well as TV series. This reviewer thought the analysis of 24 was particularly incisive.

2016 was the first year for the BAFTSS Practice Research Awards. The winning films were announced at the BAFTSS Annual Conference, 14 April 2016.

The winner was Joanna Callaghan’s Love in the Post: From Plato to Derrida.

The runner up was Pratap Rughani’s Justine.

An honourable mention went to Philip Cowan’s The Use of Color as a Function of the Cinematographer in The Sleeping-Mat Ballad.