Even though many people argue that the movie is never as good as the book it is based on, many of the best movies are, in fact, based on books. Almost one-third of the films nominated for Academy Awards this year have literary source materials.
The Coen Brothers’ True Grit, the second-most nominated film after The King’s Speech, is based on a 1968 novel by Charles Portis. The Coen Brothers’ film hews more closely to the book than the 1969 adaptation starring John Wayne. Wayne did win an Academy Award for his role as Rooster Cogburn, though. Jeff Bridges is nominated this year for the same role.
Winter’s Bone is the film I’ll be rooting for in this year’s race. It is nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (John Hawkes), and Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence, who gives a powerhouse performance as a 16-year-old girl whose family’s future rests entirely on her shoulders. The movie was bleak, but riveting. When I saw it, I didn’t even know it was based on a book. Daniel Woodrell published Winter’s Bone in 2006. The film is also nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Even one of the nominated animated feature films this year is based on a series of books. How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell started in 2003. There are currently eight books in the series. And one of the biggest pictures of the year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, received only one nomination, for visual effects. Harry Potter is, of course, based on the phenomenal best-selling series by JK Rowling. If you didn’t know that, you’re in the wrong place (and have some catching up to do!)
Other movies were adapted from books, but the movies have different titles. Best Picture-nominee 127 Hours–aka that movie were James Franco cuts his arm off–is based on the real-life memoir Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston. Franco is nominated for Best Actor and the adapted screenplay by director Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy is also nominated.
The Social Network, nominated for Best Picture, Director (David Fincher), and actor (Jesse Eisenberg) is based on Ben Mezrich’s book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal (And too many subtitles: And colons). Aaron Sorkin of West Wing fame adapted the book. Whoever shortened the title deserves his or her own award.
Although Ben Affleck’s The Town was big in the Bay State, the film is only nominated for one major award: Jeremy Renner for Best Supporting Actor. This heist thriller/love story is based on Chuck Hogan’s 2004 novel Prince of Thieves. The book has been republished with the poster of Affleck’s film gracing the cover, but it can still be found on the used shelves as Prince of Thieves (pictured to the left).
Films based on classics didn’t do as hot in the nominations this year, but two notable adaptations appear on the nomination list: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Julie Taymor’s The Tempest, which gives Shakespeare’s classic character Prospero a sex change; he is played by Helen Mirren in Taymor’s film. Burton’s Wonderland is nominated for Art Direction and Visual Effects. Both films are nominated for Best Costume Design.
So, even though these books were made into Academy Award-nominated films, are the movies as good as, if not better, than their inspirations? The only way to find out is to read the book. Many of these books are now available in new editions with the movie poster on the cover and their new, Hollywood-ized titles, but you can still find original editions of the books, with their original titles, in used book stores (such as ours!)
-as of this posting, all of the above books are currently in-stock at our Nashua location. Please call 603.881.5570 to confirm availability.