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One of the biggest trends in Hollywood movies is adapting books into major motion pictures that pop up at our local theaters and on Netflix. While it’s not a new idea in the entertainment industry (To Kill a Mockingbird and Romeo and Juliet come to mind here), the publishing industry knows that actresses, like Reese Witherspoon, are salivating over the hottest properties to take to the big screen. It not only can bring in major box office dollars, but it can also get you an Oscar nomination.
There’s a crop of films, which are nominated for an Academy Award this year in at least one category, that started as books. It’s a win-win for everyone because a popular movie often sends the original book to the top of the New York Times Best-Seller list all over again. There can be controversial adaptations, like this year’s movie, Blonde, which was based on a Joyce Carole Oates book, and then there are books that get the Hollywood treatment over and over again, like Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. And if you’ve read both the book and seen the movie, you get to ask the question: Which one was better?
However, Scott Shannon, publisher of Penguin Random House’s Del Rey imprint, has a very different way of seeing things. “I think Hollywood, in general, has recognized that books are a great way to bring compelling content to a large audience, and the book experience, in a lot of cases, it really enriches watching the show [or movie],” he told The Verge. With just days to go until the 95th Annual Academy Awards, get a jump on this list of books that were adapted to film and are lucky enough to get an Oscar nod or two.
American icons are having a big year at the Oscars, and we have the book, Blonde: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates to thank for Ana de Armas’ sublime performance as Marilyn Monroe. Oates created a biographical fiction novel that re-images what Monroe’s life was like from her dazzling rise to the top to her sad ending.
We’ve seen so many depictions of Elvis Presley on TV, film, and in books, but it is author Alanna Nash’s book, The Colonel: The Extraordinary Story of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis Presley, that gives us a perspective we’ve never seen before. Colonel Tom Parker shaped Presley’s image and career, but he was also a major catalyst to the music icon’s downfall. This incredible insight is likely what helped Austin Butler create his version of Presley and get his first Oscar nomination.
‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’
If you are a fan of the Marvel Universe movies, take a step back and see the origins of these characters from legendary author Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby’s perspective with The Black Panther Vol. 1: The Claws of the Panther. You will be able to delve into this fascinating world of Wakanda and how it fits in with the rest of the Avengers… it’s truly a magical place where a monarch becomes a superhero.
The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter is a play that dives really deep into the sadness and desperation that many people feel. In the film, Brendan Fraser masterfully captured the portrayal of a 600-pound man looking for his redemption story by reconnecting with his estranged daughter. Will he finally have his happy ending?
‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’
This 1958 gem, Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico, follows the delightful Mrs. Harris, who dreams of purchasing her own House of Dior gown just like her wealthy employer. Her dream comes true, thanks to a French marquis (her fairy godmother), but things go comedically awry when she loans the gown to a young actress. And if you love this book, you can follow Mrs. Harris’ adventures to New York, Parliament, and Moscow in the series.
‘All Quiet on the Western Front’
The 1928 German novel, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, shows the brutalities of World War I from the perspective of a 17-year-old soldier. He was initially eager to serve his country until the realities of the ongoing battle set in quickly. The book was adapted into a film in 1930, which also had success at the Oscars, and again in 2022.
Women Talking, by Miriam Toews, came out in 2020 and was immediately fast-tracked for the big screen for its timely issues about sexual assault, women’s rights, and reclaiming power. The story is based on a real-life stories of eight Mennonite women who come together to make difficult decisions to stay or escape their community after men in their colony drugged and attacked over 100 women.
The Death of Ivan Ilyich, by Leo Tolstoy, is a classic tale about the meaning of life while staring down death at the same time. The novella was turned into a 2022 film, Living, starring Bill Nighy, as a crotchety middle-aged man who has spent more time on his career than with his family. It’s the ultimate spiritual crisis tale of facing a crucial moment of truth.
‘The Quiet Girl’
Foster, by Claire Keegan, focuses on an Irish girl who is taken by her father and sent to live on a farm while her mother gives birth to another child. It becomes a summer of love for her as the family showers her with the affection and care she always longed for. The book was adapted into a 2022 film, The Quiet Girl, which is up for Best International Feature Film at the Oscars.
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