As usual, some of the movies up for Oscars in the 84th Academy Awards are based on books. Have you read any of them? I’m fascinated by film adaptations of books, and for me the important bit is that they are an adaptation. You can’t always do on the big screen the same stuff you do in a book, it doesn’t necessarily translate. I think you have to find the essence of the story, introduce it, develop it and then close it in a very short period of time. The tools are different in moving pictures and as a result, the approach has to vary as well. People get too tied down to ‘it being exactly like the book’ when in fact the key is, does it tell the same story, with the same impact.
Clearly there’s plenty of scope for getting it wrong, and a lot of scope for upsetting the original author depending on how much creative control they have or want, but I think the last group of people who should be defensive over the original source are the readers or the movie goers themselves. Taking someone elses creative art and adapting it is a huge responsibility, which I’m sure most screenwriters and directors are more than aware of.
Anyway, here they are, the 2012 Oscar Nominations for movies based on books!
Hugo is up for a bunch of awards, including Best Picture, Cinematography, Art Direction, Costume Design, Directing and Film Editing (and a bunch more, seriously)! Hugo is based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.
Based on Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis, and also up for Best Picture as well as Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and offering Brad Pitt a chance for Actor in a Leading Role. I believe the book is non-fiction.
Another adaptation up for Best Picture, The Descendants is based on the book of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. It’s also in the running for Best Director, Actor in a Leading Role (Clooney this time) and a couple of others.
Yet another book adaptation in the running for Best Picture. The Help was written by Kathryn Stockett, and is giving Viola Davis a shot at Lead Actress, and Jessica Chastain as Supporting Actress.
Yep you guessed it, in the running for Best Picture! Also has a chance at pulling in Best Supporting Actor for Max von Sydow (and in my view, he deserves it, because he’s all round awesome)! The book has been out since 2006 although Amazon appears to think it’s a ‘film tie-in’, which I’m sure isn’t true. It’s written by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Six of the nine nominations for Best Picture are book adaptation, with War Horse being our last. War Horse (based on the book of the same name by Michael Morpurgo) is also up for a bunch of technical awards such as Art Direction, Original Score and Sound Editing.
As well as giving Rooney Mara a chance at Best Actress, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is up for a couple of technical awards (Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Cinematography, Film Editing). Originally written by Stieg Larsson, it’s been adapted twice now, once in 2009 in Swedish and this time by Hollywood.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
The classic novel, written by John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is in the running to give Gary Oldman a Best Actor award (along with Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score).
My Week with Marilyn
I believe My Week with Marilyn is based on two books combined. Both are by Colin Clark, “The Prince, The Showgirl and Me” and “My Week with Marilyn”. The film offers Michelle Williams a chance at Best Actress and Kenneth Branagh as Best Supporting Actor.
While researching this post, I found conflicting sources on whether The Iron Lady was based on a Margaret Thatcher Biography (Margaret Thatcher Volume One) by John Campbell. I couldn’t find anything definitive, so I’m not listing it here specifically.
So, 6 of the 9 movies up for Best Picture are book adaptations and another 3 adaptations offer chances for actors, actresses and movie technicians to be recognised. Not a bad potential haul for literature.
Addendum: I am reminded that although these awards take place in 2012, technically they are the 2011 Academy Awards.