Read Some Possible Oscar Contenders

Emphasis on the ‘possible’. At this point of the race, some films have not been released other than screened in Film Festivals. The frontrunner so far is 12 Years A Slave. And then there are the rest, some long shots, some longer. But I’d like to include them on this list because I want to draw your attention to the books which inspire these film adaptations.

How come Gravity isn’t here? You ask. It’s a frontrunner too. Yes. But, ah… find me the book first. No book? Maybe because it’s much easier to pass you the 3D glasses.

Here’s a list of fall/winter reading to gear up for the upcoming Awards Season.

12 Years A Slave by Solomon Northup

12 Years a Slave copyThe movie adaptation directed by Steve McQueen is TIFF13 People’s Choice Award winner. From past years, this accolade is a good predictor of Oscar wins. Based on the real life story of Solomon Northup, a free black man in Upstate New York who was kidnapped into slavery in Louisiana. For twelve years he suffered in the hands of several masters. First published in 1853, the book is Northup’s first-person accounts of slavery in 19th C. America, noteworthy for its historical value and poignancy. The actor Chiwetel Ejiofor a likely Oscar Best Actor nom for his role as Solomon Northup. You can download the whole book in its original form here.

August: Osage County by Tracy Letts

August Osage CountyThe play won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Members of a dysfunctional family inevitably come together after tragedy strikes. The stage production was described by the NYT as ‘a fraught, densely plotted saga of an Oklahoma clan in a state of near-apocalyptic meltdown’. Before you see how the A-list cast interpret their roles on screen, maybe reading the play is rewarding since you get to experience the story first hand before being influenced by Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor…

The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel

The Monuments MenI’ve mentioned this title in a previous post. Now I’ve got the book in my hands. The true but untold story of how a group of rescuers called the Monuments Men in war-torn Europe saved  art and artifacts from the Nazi’s. In the introduction of the book, the author writes: “Hitler and the Nazis pulled off the ‘greatest theft in history’, seizing and transporting more than five million cultural objects to the Third Reich.” George Clooney, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin (The Artist), Hugh Bonneville (so Lord Grantham finally gets the chance to go into the battlefield).

A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Philips

A Captain's Duty..Another likely contender that has been getting a lot of buzz is this thriller starring Tom Hanks, based on Captain Richard Phillips’ real life ordeal in the hands of Somali pirates. A lawsuit will begin in a few weeks filed by the crew of the ship Maersk Alabama against the shipping company for sending them to pirate-infested waters unprepared. They also claim the Captain was at fault in the case. Their attorneys had set up a Webpage to clarify the truths from the fiction. A turbulent epilogue to the real life adventure on high seas.

The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith

The Lost Child of Philomena Lee copyJudi Dench could get a possible Best Actress Oscar nomination with her role as Philomena Lee. In her youth as an unwed mother, Philomena was sent to the convent of Roscrea, Limerick, her baby taken away and ‘sold’ to America for adoption. As she became an adult, Philomena was determined to search for her lost child. I missed this at TIFF13. Maybe an Oscar nomination for Dench could raise the prospect of it being screened in our theatres.


‘Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage’ by Alice Munro

Hateship-Friendship-Courtship-Loveship-Marriage-book-cover copyWith Alice Munro garnering the newest top honor as Nobel Laureate, hopefully the film adaption of this short story with a shorter title Hateship, Loveship will receive a wider release. It has been a long while since Away From Her (2006). The film receives positive feedbacks at TIFF13. A good cast with Kristen Wiig (Best Actress and Best Original Screenwriting Oscar noms for Bridesmaids), Guy Pearce (The King’s Speech), Hailee Seinfeld (True Grit), Nick Nolte (too many to name).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber (Click on link to read the story online.)

The Secret Life of Walter MittyInteresting to see another film adaptation of a short story. This one I have a feeling that it’s very loosely based on Thurber’s character Walter Mitty, considering it’s a Ben Stiller movie. I’m sure many have read this story in school, time to reread just to get the Walter Mitty psyche, then go and check out the Ben Stiller ride. Other than Stiller, there are Kristen Wiig (again, in two short story film adaptations the same year), Sean Penn (can you imagine?), Shirley MacLaine.

The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

The Wolf of Wall Street copyCoincidence that Leonardo DiCaprio jumps from being Jay Gatsby to Jordan Belfort, the real life fraud on Wall Street, notorious for his highflying lifestyle and his operating a boiler room brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont. A multimillionaire at 26, he was later indicted in 1998 for securities fraud and money laundering but only served 22 months in federal prison. The Wolf of Wall Street is his unabashedly candid memoir. Martin Scorsese directs with DiCaprio touted as a likely contender in the Best Actor Oscar category.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief copyNo Oscar buzz around this one, but a look at the movie trailer, I know I want to see it. Yes, mainly because of Geoffrey Rush I admit. And also, Brian Percival… ring a bell? Director of Downton Abbey. The film will be released in November, a time slot where contenders are placed. So, you can say it’s a long, long shot for, who knows, maybe Geoffrey Rush, or Emily Watson? I admit I still haven’t read this very popular YA title. I’d like to do that before watching the film. Is this one on your movie viewing radar?


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

19 thoughts on “Read Some Possible Oscar Contenders”

  1. Yikes! These all look GREAT! I’m especially excited for the Monuments Men — I’m hoping to talk the book club into liking that one! I wish I liked Leonardo DiCaprio better — he bothers me on screen and I don’t know why. Book Thief sounds interesting — love Geoffrey Rush. So many sound very, very good. I also want to see (because I’m a softie) the one with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers as he tries to convince her to bring Mary Poppins to the screen. Oh, I think I’ll be spending a lot of time and money at the movies!


    1. Jeanie,

      I can understand your book group might want something more fanciful. This one looks very fact-based, may not be as ‘romantic’ as fictional writing. But then again, it’s an important piece of war-time undertaking that should be told. Yes, I’d like to see the Walt Disney and Mary Poppins episode too. I didn’t include it here cause that’s an original screenplay I believe. You’re right, I’m excited about the Oscars already. Now, this is only domestic. There are 76 entries from all over the world competing for Best Foreign Language Film.


  2. I’ve heard of very few of these, Arti — I always love your book to film round-ups.

    Re you short stories comment, I don’t think it’s surprising that short stories are being adapted. I think more short stories than we realise are adapted for film and it makes sense I think. Short stories tend not to have all those digressions and subplots that filmmakers need to decide whether to include or not. Years ago I was looking up Somerset Maugham – I think regarding the film adaptation of The razor’s edge – and I was astonished at how many of his short stories had been made into film. Great to see an Alice Munro being chosen.

    Anyhow, some fascinating films in this list, whether or not they end up being Oscar contenders!


    1. WG,

      Yes, you have a good point there. Considering a ‘regular’ screenplay has 110 – 120 pages, one for each min. screen time, the short story or novella is probably a perfect form to be transposed. And Somerset Maugham, I’m a fan of his works, books and short stories. Regarding the Oscars… there are so many possible contenders to watch, adapted or original screenplays. We’re in for a rich season of reads and screens. 😉


    1. JoAnne,

      Thanks… always a pleasure to collect info on this subject. Don’t know why, but I’m just intrigued by the adaptation process from the literary to the visual. Words and Pictures, btw, that’s the title of a film I watched at TIFF, with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche. 😉


  3. I’ve been following the story of Captain Phillips rather closely. It’s interesting to me because he seems to have so very much in common with the captain of the Costa Concordia, the cruise liner that went on the rocks. Autocratic tendencies, the need to be in total control, arrogance – and a crew that in at least part despised him.

    I think another book that might make good reading in conjunction with the film would be “Moby Dick”. 😉


    1. Linda,

      I’d seen the movie… it doesn’t portray the captain as reckless like the one of Costa Concordia. He’s no hero either, just an ‘innocent victim’. But of course that’s Tom Hanks, who can garner all sorts of empathy and sympathy with his portrayal of any character in my opinion. Don’t know about all the ‘truths’ except the law suit claims the shipping company saves a lot of money by going this shorter but more dangerous route. It will be an interesting post to contrast the often straying from ‘truths’ in movies.

      Moby Dick? It’s still on my TBR list all these years. Maybe it’s about time. 😉


  4. Arti, I love it when you do this. I get all my Oscar information from you, as well as some intriguing book recommendations! Funnily enough, the book I’d most like to read is about the Wall Street fraud guy. I’m all curious about people who get caught making big mistakes at the moment, and this would fit right in (I’m guessing). But lots here I’d like to check out – thank you!


    1. litlove,

      I’m glad you like lists like this one. I enjoy gathering the info and making them. Since posting this, I’ve discovered a couple more upcoming book to movie adaptations in their very early stage of development. I’ll keep those on file. Will keep you posted. As for the book The Wolf of Wall Street, I look forward to your review. 😉


  5. I am filing this post away as my movies to watch for the next year for certain. I loved The Book Thief AND I always appreciate Geoffrey Rush, so I am super excited about that one!


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