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Red Carpet Reads: 11 Books at the 2013 Oscars

January 16, 2013 | Winona | Comments (2)

Nominees for the 85th Academy Awards - also known as the Oscars - were announced last week. It's another stellar year for books adapted to the big screen: five of the nine films nominated in the Best Picture category are based on books, as are all five of the nominations for Production Design.

Here now, by popular demand, is a list of books that have inspired some of this year's Oscar-nominated films. Which ones have you read/seen? Which was better, the book or the movie? Are there any great story-to-screen adaptations from 2012 that you think the Academy missed? (Personally, I would have liked to have seen the film Rust and Bone, adapted from the debut story collection Rust and Bone by Toronto author Craig Davidson in there somewhere.) What do you think? Have your say in the comments below!



Argo by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio Argo filmBased on the true story Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History by Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio (also available as an eAudiobook).

Nominated for: Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, FIlm Editing, Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Synopsis: "When six Americans take refuge in the Canadian embassy in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis, U.S. government agent Tony Mendez turns to Hollywood for help. Working with a producer and a makeup artist, he devises a rescue mission that centers on the creation of a fake film production company scouting locations in Iran."  


Anna Karenina 

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina film

Based on the classic novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (also available as an eBook).

 Nominated for: Cinematography, Costume Design, Music (Original Score), Production Design.

Synopsis: "As the wife of a highly placed government minister, Anna Karenina occupies a secure position within the upper reaches of Russian society, although the chief source of happiness in her marriage is her eight-year-old son. Her meeting with Count Vronsky, a handsome cavalry officer, offers Anna the passionate love her marriage is lacking, but places her at the center of a devastating scandal."

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit The Hobbit filmBased on the fantasy classic The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien (also available in several audio and online/download formats).

Nominated for: Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "Bilbo Baggins finds his peaceful life in the Shire interrupted by the appearance of Gandalf the Grey, a wizard who has come to persuade the hobbit to accompany a band of dwarves on a quest to regain their homeland. The adventure on which he embarks will test Bilbo's wit, courage and resourcefulness, and have far-reaching consequences for the land of Middle-earth."

Les Misérables

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Les Mis filmBased on the historical novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (also available as an eBook).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Song), Production Design, Sound Mixing.

Synopsis: "In early 19th century France, Jean Valjean, a man imprisoned years earlier for stealing a loaf of bread, decides to break his parole following his release and assume a new identity. Although he succeeds in building a new life for himself, the relentless pursuit of Inspector Javert threatens the security of Valjean and his adopted daughter, Cosette."

Life of Pi

Life of Pi by Yann Martel Life of Pi filmBased on the fantasy adventure novel Life of Pi by Canadian author Yann Martel (also available in eBook, large print, audio, and illustrated formats).

Nominated for: Best Picture, Cinematography, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Synopsis: "Young Pi, the son of zookeepers in Pondicherry, India, finds the world he knows swept away when his family sells the zoo and sets sail for Canada with a few of its remaining animals. A storm capsizes the ship and only Pi escapes, set adrift in a lifeboat that is also the refuge of an enormous Bengal tiger."


Team of RivalsLincoln filmBased on the biographical portrait Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin (also available in several audio formats).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Synopsis: "With the Civil War coming to a close and the freedom granted to the slaves by the Emancipation Proclamation called into question, Abraham Lincoln seeks to pass a thirteenth amendment to the Constitution that will outlaw slavery everywhere in the United States.  Facing opposition from many quarters in Congress, Lincoln uses his vast political powers to gain allies in his fight."

Marvel's The Avengers

The Avengers The Avengers filmBased on the Marvel comic book superheroes The Avengers created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (more adventures assembled in other books).

Nominated for: Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "With the earth under threat from Thor's brother, Loki, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury mobilizes the members of the crime fighting force known as the Avengers. As Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America and Black Widow join forces to combat Loki, they must also learn to put aside their superhero-sized differences in order to work together."

Mirror Mirror

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by the Brothers Grimm transl Randall Jarrell Mirror Mirror filmInspired by the fairy tale Snow White by the Brothers Grimm (also available in several other editions).

Nominated for: Costume Design.

Synopsis: "After marrying Snow White's father and seizing control of his kingdom, the evil queen, now a widow, locks up her spirited stepdaughter and pursues the handsome Prince Alcott. It is the beautiful princess who draws his attention, however – a turn of events that causes the queen to order the girl's murder."

The Sessions

How I Became a Human Being by Mark O'Brien The Sessions filmBased on the magazine article by Mark O'Brien whose experiences are also described in his autobiography How I Became a Human Being: a Disabled Man's Quest for Independence

Nominated for: Actress in a Supporting Role.

Synopsis: "Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, The Sessions tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality."

Silver Linings Playbook 

The Silver Linings Playbook Silver Linings Playbook filmBased on the novel The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick (also available as an eAudiobook).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Leading Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Directing, Film Editing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Synopsis: "Pat Solatano is released into his parents' care after eight months of treatment for a bipolar disorder.  His recovery seems far from certain, however, when he stops taking his medication and becomes increasingly obsessed with winning back his estranged wife, a plan that leads him to embark on a complicated relationship with a troubled young woman whose husband has died."


James Bond by Michael Paterson Skyfall filmBased on the James Bond character from the fictional spy novels and stories by Ian Fleming.

Nominated for: Cinematography, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing.

Synopsis: "After M's orders lead to James Bond's near-fatal shooting by a colleague, he returns to duty before he is fully recovered to track down a cyber-terrorist named Silva, a sinister figure from M's past. Bond's efforts to protect M will force him to confront memories from his own past as Silva unleashes a wave of violence in his efforts to destroy M."

Snow White and the Huntsman 

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by the Brothers Grimm transl Randall Jarrell Snow White and the Huntsman filmInspired by the fairy tale Snow White by the Brothers Grimm (also available in several other editions).

Nominated for: Costume Design, Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "When the evil Queen Ravenna murders her husband and seizes control of the kingdom, she imprisons her stepdaughter, Snow White. The girl escapes and flees into the Dark Forest in search of those loyal to her father, where she is pursued by The Huntsman."

Note: All film synopses are from the Oscars website, except The Sessions from Fox Searchlight.

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