Sunday, 2 March 2014

5 Oscar films based on books

Once a year the biggest and brightest of Hollywood's elite (and their mum) show up on the red carpet for the Oscars. Several of the best films fight it out to win the coveted golden statue and a guaranteed increase in box office sales. Just being nominated increases the audience for a film and if that film is based on a book, then you'll see the book enter the top 20 best sellers too. Just have a look at the top selling books right now: Twelve Years A Slave by Solomon Northup, The Wolf Of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort, Philomena by Martin Sixsmith and A Captain's Duty by Richard Phillips amongst others have all entered the higher reaches of the chart since their film adaptations have been released and nominated. Always on the cultural pulse I have yet to see a single one of these films (I saw The Hobbit at the cinema last year, THAT'S IT!). What other Oscar winners and nominees have been based on books though? For the sake of argument, I'll be including films nominated in the Best Film catagory only.

The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy. 2001-2003
All three films were nominated between 2001-2003 but only the third, The Return of the King, came home triumphant, the first two losing out to A Beautiful Mind and Chicago. The cinematic achievement was huge and it was thought that although the third is often seen as the weakest (it is), it was handed the Oscar on the basis of the work put into the entire trilogy. The books by J.R.R.Tolkien have remained a classic since publication and the films only increased their reach. The Lord Of The Rings has become a behemoth since, with cash-ins around every corner from computer games, toys, artwork and board games. The Hobbit has since been made on the back of the strength of Lord Of The Rings.


The Shawshank Redemption - 1994
Probably the most famous Oscar snub in history is that the Tom Hanks tear-jerker Forrest Gump beat this Stephen King adaptation to the Oscar in 1994. It often tops Best Film categories and it's clear why: It's flipping brilliant. It's based on a short story written by the horror maestro entitled Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption in a collection called Different Seasons. In the same collection, the story The Body can be found, which was also adapted into the coming of age classic Stand By Me. Two of the best films ever made. A tonne of King's books have been adapted with varying success, but each time a new one comes along, the book it's based on sees a bump in sales.


Schindler's List - 1993
Steven Spielberg was often overlooked by the Academy but his take on Thomas Keneally's Schindler's Ark in 1993 was simply too powerful. The book was published 11 years before the film and is based on Oskar Schindler who managed to save over 1000 Jews in World War II. It came away triumphant beating another adaptation, The Remains of The Day based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of the same name. In the same year Spielberg made the BEST FILM EVER Jurassic Park, based on the Michael Crichton book. A fabulous year for Spielberg.


Life of Pi - 2013
Just last year this fantastical tale lost out to Argo. It was passed around Hollywood for years as it was thought to be un-adaptable, before visionary director Ang Lee tackled Yann Martel's tale and brought his unique style to it. The book it's based on (of the same name) won the heavyweight literary prize The Man Booker Prize in 2002 and sales rose steadily since. Once the film was released the book entered the top echelons of the charts once more. It split the reading and viewing public down the middle. I loved both the film and book.


The Godfather - 1972
Considered one of the best films of all time, The Godfather was adapted from Mario Puzo's novel of the same name, released just 3 years previously. It came away with the golden statue at the 1972 awards after Puzo had adapted his own book, along with director Francis Ford Coppola. It's a rare case of the film often being voted better than the book it's based on.


So these are 5 of the most well known, but travelling back through time you'll see dozens all based on books. Which are your favourites?

Michael