The 2019 Oscars: A Reading List

February 20, 2019 | Viveca

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The 91st Academy Awards on February 24 will be the first Oscars in 30 years without a host – Kevin Hart stepped down after past homophobic tweets resurfaced. Indeed, Oscar never disappoints when it comes to controversy. One crisis averted: organizers had originally planned not to broadcast the Oscars for cinematography and editing live – but thought better of it when met with backlash. 

Will Green Book survive the criticism around race and representation? Will Glenn Close break her record for most Oscar nominations without a win? Keep track of the winners with this handy ballot and settle in for what always proves to be a bumpy ride. 

Don't forget to check out the Toronto Public Library's Oscar reading list of titles available to borrow in a variety of formats. 

First Man First Man DVD

First Man: the Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen. 

This biography of astronaut, Neil Armstrong, was the basis for First Man directed by Damien Chazelle. 

Oscar Nominations: 4 including Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Editing.

The Wife The Wife DVD

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer.

This biting novel about a woman's relationship with her husband, a writer who has just won a major literary award, was adapted into The Wife directed by Björn L Runge. 

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress (Glenn Close).

Black Klansman Blackkklansman

Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth.

Stallworth's memoir, about an African-American policeman who goes undercover to infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970s is the basis for Spike Lee's Blackkklansman.   

Oscar Nominations: 6 including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Adam Driver), Best Film Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay.

 Black Panther DVD

The Black Panther directed by Ryan Coogler was based on the Marvel comics books and graphic novels.  

Oscar Nominations: 6 including Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Best Sound Editing.

Can You Ever Forgive Me

Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger by Lee Israel.

Lee Israel's memoir of her life as a literary forger was adapted for film and directed by Marielle Heller. 

Oscar Nominations: Best Actress (Melissa McCarthy), Best Supporting Actor (Richard E. Grant), Best Adapted Screenplay.

If Beale Street Could Talk

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin.

Tish and Fonny are a happy, young African-American couple in love – until Fonny (played by Toronto actor Stephan James) is falsely accused of rape.  Baldwin's novel was the basis for the film directed by Barry Jenkins. 

Oscar Nominations: 3 including Best Supporting Actress (Regina King), Best Adapted Screenplay.

Mary Queen of Scots

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart by John Guy.

Guy's award-winning biograpy of the ill-fated Mary Stuart was the basis for Mary: Queen of Scots directed by Josie Rourke.

Oscar Nominations: Best Makeup and Hair Styling.


While not based on books, these Oscar-nominated films are available to borrow on DVD from the Toronto Public Library.

First Reformed

First Reformed directed by Paul Schrader.

A troubled pastor suffers a dark night of the soul in this film written and directed by the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. 

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Screenplay.

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs directed by Wes Anderson.

After a lethal outbreak of canine flu, all dogs are banished to an island in this dystopian stop-motion animated film directed by the always-interesting Wes Anderson. 

Oscar Nominations: 2 including Best Animated Feature, Best Original Score.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody directed by Bryan Singer.

This biographical film about the rock band, Queen, focuses on its charismatic lead singer, Freddie Mercury. 

Oscars Nominations: 5 including Best Picture, Best Actor (Rami Malek), and Best Film Editing.


RBG directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen.

This documentary chronicles the life and career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, United States Supreme Court Justice. 

Oscar Nominations: Best Feature Documentary.

Free Solo

Free Solo directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelvi and Jimmy Chin. 

This documentary chronicles rock climber Alex Honnold vertigo-inducing free solo climb. 

Oscar Nominations: Best Documentary Feature.

Incredibles 2

Incredibles 2 directed by Brad Bird.

A long-awaited sequel to Disney Pixar's The Incredibles in which Elastigirl takes center stage. 

Oscar Nominations: Best Animated Feature.

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