It’s that time of year again, when Hollywood celebrates it’s own achievements. Yes, it’s The Oscars (or the 85th Academy Awards). As usual, many of the films up for awards are book adaptations, so I thought it would be worth having a look at some of them.
Life of Pi (by Yann Martel) is variously described as indescribable, and unclassifiable. It has also been described as un-filmable, but I think many screenwriters these days simply take that as a challenge. The book was rejected many times before finally being published, but the movie has drawn instant acclaim and already won a slew of awards. Many of those awards are technical in nature, because the film looks incredible, with sublime special effects. At the Oscars, the movie is again up for several technical awards, as well as Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, as well as giving Ang Lee a shot at Best Director.
I’m a little confused about Argo, it’s either based on The Master of Disguise: My Secret Life in the CIA by Antonio J. Mendez and Malcolm McConnell, or it could be based on Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio, or maybe it’s a mix of both. I’m not sure if the latter book was actually written alongside the screenplay or not. Anyway, the film (directed and starring Ben Affleck) is up for or helping to provide a good number of awards this year, including Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Editing, Music, and Adapted Screenplay.
Despite my initial expectation that Lincoln was just based on history, it turns out to be based on Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln written by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Again, up in multiple categories including Best Picture, I suspect this will be the vehicle for an Oscar win, in Actor in a Leading Role, for Daniel Day-Lewis. You read it here first folks.
The Silver Linings Playbook is adapted from the debut novel (of the same name) written by Matthew Quick. In loose terms, it’s a romantic comedy, but is also realistic look at the challenges thrown up mental health, both for sufferers and those around them. This film is up in Best Picture, but also gives many of the cast a chance at acting honours in all four of the categories (supporting and leading actor and actress).
Technically, Les Misérables is based on the musical. But since the musical is based on the book, it’s in the list! Also up in the Best Picture category, it will be a miracle if it wins. There have been 9 or 10 musical winners of Best Picture, the last being Chicago in 2002, and the one before that was Oliver! in 1968 – as you can see, it’s going to be a challenge.
Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (or Pirates! Band of Misfits! in America), is loosely based on the book of the same (UK) name by Gideon Defoe. In line for Best Animated Feature Film, it’s actually pretty good. I recommend the film, but I’ve never read the book!
There may be other films in the various categories adapted from books (Beasts of the Southern Wild is adapted from a play, so I didn’t include it, likewise The Sessions is adapted from an essay), but those are the ones that jump out at me most. Enjoy!