The 2023 Oscars: A Reading List

March 9, 2023 | Viveca

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The 95th Academy Awards takes place on Sunday, March 12 with Jimmy Kimmel hosting.  It will be hard to top the drama of last year's ceremony with The Slap, but as long as live television is live, it will continue to deliver.  

Canada's most prominent nominee, Women Talking based on Miriam Toews' novel, is also Canada's biggest Oscar snub since Sarah Polley was not nominated for Best Director.  Other notable snubs are Viola Davis for The Woman King and Danielle Deadwyler for Till, with ongoing allegations of misogynoir. The biggest scandal to date involves accusations of impropriety in the campaign leading to Andrea Riseborough's Best Actress nomination but the Academy ultimately allowed the nomination. 

Some notable highlights:

  • Michelle Yeoh is the first Asian to be nominated for Best Actress – this year has the most nominations for Asian artists ever.
  • Supporting Actor nominee Ke Huy Quan returned to acting after a long hiatus. He worked as a child actor in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and The Goonies
  • The Quiet Girl is Ireland's first ever International Feature nomination.

On March 12, for those of us watching from home (i.e. Will Smith), settle in with snacks and use this handy ballot to track your favourites. 

Many books have inspired films this year including novels, novellas, graphic fiction, and comic books. 

Our Annual Oscar Reading List


Blonde Film Poster

Blonde. USA. Directed by Andrew Dominik. Starring Ana de Armas, Adrien Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Xavier Samual, Julianne Nicholson 

Oates' Blonde, a Pulitzer finalist, is a fictionalized account of the life of Marilyn Monroe. This film did receive some criticism that, despite a strong performance by de Armas, the film's approach was both exploitative and sexist.  

Oscar nomination: Actress (de Armas)

Woman Talking

Woman Talking Film Poster

Women Talking. USA.  Directed by Sarah Polley. Starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw, Frances McDormand, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod. 

Based on Canadian author Miriam Toews' novel, Woman Talking is about a group of Mennonite women who strategize a response to the male community members who have repeatedly drugged and raped them. This novel is a fictional account of a true story. Toronto's venerated actor Sheila McCarthy appears in the film along with the always-powerful Frances McDormand and the Crown's Claire Foy. If you've already read this book and loved it, check out our list of read-alikes.

Oscar nomination: Best Picture


The Quiet Girl Film Poster

The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin)Ireland. Directed by Colm Bairéad. Starring Carrie Crowley, Andrew Bennett, Catherine Clinch, Michael Patric, Kate Nic Chonaonaigh.

This film is based on Claire Keegan's 2010 novella Foster about a young girl from a poor, rural family who is sent to live with distant relatives while her mother gives birth.  The Quiet Girl is the highest grossing Irish-language film of all time. 

Oscar nomination: International Feature 

The Whale

The Whale Film Poster

The Whale. USA. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton.

Aronofsky's film is based on the 2012 play, The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter who also wrote the screenplay.  The play centers on a 600 lb gay man who is trying to reconcile with his estranged teenage daughter.  The film is being touted as the triumphant return of actor Brendan Fraser with standing ovations shared widely across social media; Fraser had sunk into semi-obscurity over recent years. It has also divided some viewers on the issue of fatphobia.  

Oscar nominations: Actor (Fraser), Supporting Actress (Chau), Makeup and Hairstyling

Wakanda Forever

Wakanda Forever Film Poster

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. USA. Directed by Ryan Coogler. Starring Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Michaela Coel, Angela Bassett. 

The Black Panther films are based on Marvel comics. Sadly, the second installment of this film franchise was without actor Chadwick Boseman who died in 2020 from cancer.  

Oscar nominations: Supporting Actress (Bassett), Original Song, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Visual Effects

Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris Film Poster

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris.  UK/France/Hungary. Directed by Anthony Fabian. Starring Lesley Manville, Isabelle Huppert, Lambert Wilson, Alba Baptista, Lucas Bravo, Ellen Thomas, Rose Williams, Jason Isaacs.

This film is based on Paul Gallico's 1958 novel Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris. A cleaning lady (Manville) goes to Paris to fulfil her dream of owning a Dior dress.  There was a 1992 version of this film (now out-of-print), starring Angela Lansbury and Diana Rigg. 

Oscar nomination: Costume Design

All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front Poster

All Quiet on the Western Front. USA, Germany. Directed by Edward Berger. Starring Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer, Moritz Klaus, Edin Hasanovic, Thibault De Montalembert, Daniel Brühl, Devid Striesow. 

This film is the latest adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's anti-war classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Published in 1929, Remarque's novel is a testament to the horrors of war.  Watch or re-watch the 1930 Oscar-winning adaptation directed by Lewis Milestone which was startlingly graphic for its time. 

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, International Feature, Original Score, Cinematography, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound, Visual Effects

Death of Ivan Ilyich

Living Film Poster

Living. UK. Directed by Oliver Hermanus. Starring Bill Nighy, Aimee Lou Wood, Alex Sharp, Tom Burke. 

This film is also based on another film, Ikiru, directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa which was also inspired by Tolstoy's classic novella. Both the novella and the films focus on a man with a terminal disease and his contemplations about death and what it means to have a life well-lived. 

Oscar nominations: Actor (Nighy), Adapted Screenplay


Pinocchio Film Poster

Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio. USA/Mexico. Directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson. Starring Ewan McGregor, David Bradley, Gregory Mann, Burn Gorman, Ron Perlman, John Turturro, Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, Tim Blake Nelson, Chistoph Walz, Tilda Swinton.

This film is based on the classic fairy tale, The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi. The 1940 Disney adaptation of this film thrilled (and traumatized) generations of children; Matteo Garrone released his version of Pinocchio in 2020 starring Roberto Benigni. 

Oscar nomination: Animated Feature

The Boy  The Mole  The Fox  and the Horse

The Boy  The Mole  The Fox  and the Horse.Film Poster

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. USA/UK. Directed by Peter Baynton, Charlie Mackesy. Starring Jude Coward Nicoll, Gabriel Byrne, Idris Elba, Tom Hollander.

This short animated film is based on the bestselling graphic book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy about a young boy's journey with three friends and their musings on life.   

Oscar nomination: Animated Short

Books about the Oscars

Looking to read more about the annual award ceremony? Here's a couple of books about the Oscars to check out.

Oscar Wars

Oscar Wars: A History of Hollywood in Gold, Sweat, and Tears by Michael Schulman. 

The Academy and the Award

The Academy and the the Award: the Coming of Age of Oscar and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences by Bruce Davis.

Borrow a 2023 Oscar-nominated film

The following films are not based on books but are available to place on hold and borrow from the library.

Everything Everywhere All At Once

Everything Everywhere All At Once. USA. Directed by Daniel Kwon & Daniel Scheinert. Starring Michelle Yeoh, Stephanie Hsu, Ke Huy Quan, Jenny Slate, Harry Shum Jr., James Hong, Jamie Lee Curtis.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Yeoh), Actor (Ke Huy Quan), Supporting Actress (Curtis, Hsu), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Original Song, Costume Design, Editing


Tár. USA/Germany. Directed by Todd Field. Starring Cate Blanchett, Nina Hoss, Noémie Merlant, Sophie Kauer, Julian Glover, Mark Strong.

Oscar Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Blanchett), Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Editing

Banshees of Inirsherin

The Banshees of Inisherin. UK/USA. Directed by Martin McDonagh. Starring Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Kerry Condon, Barry Keoghan

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Farrell), Supporting Actor (Gleeson, Keoghan), Supporting Actress (Condon), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Editing

The Fabelmans

The Fabelmans. USA. Directed by Steven Spielberg. Starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Gabriel LaBelle, Jeannie Berlin, David Lynch, Judd Hirsch. 

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actress (Williams), Supporting Actor (Hirsch), Original Screenplay, Original Score, Production Design.


Elvis. USA/Australia. Directed by Baz Luhrmann. Starring Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Kelvin Harrison, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Butler), Cinematography, Costume Design, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, Sound

Marcel the Shell With Shoes On

Marcel: The Shell With Shoes On. USA. Directed by Dean Fleischer Camp. Starring Jenny Slate, Rosa Salazar, Thomas Mann, Dean Fleischer Camp, Lesley Stahl, Isabella Rossellini

Oscar nomination: Animated Feature

Puss in Boots The Last Wish

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish. USA. Directed by Joel Crawford. Starring Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek Pinault, Harvey  Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Coleman. 

Oscar nomination: Animated Feature

Turning Red

Turning Red. USA. Directed by Domee Shi. Starring Rosalie Chiang, Sandra Oh, Ava Morse, Hyein Park, Maitrevi Ramakrishnan, Orion Lee, Wai Ching Ho Tristan Allerick Chen, James Hong.

Go Toronto! 

Oscar Nomination: Animated Feature

Top Gun Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick. USA. Directed by Joseph Kosinski. Starring Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Lewis Pullman, Ed Harris, Val Kilmer.

Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay, Original Song, Editing, Sound, Visual Effects

Who do you think should win (or not win) this year?  Let us know in the comments.

Previous years' nominees