From Books to Movies at the 2015 Oscars

February 21, 2015 | Winona

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Pop your popcorn, place your bets, and call the fashion police: it's Oscar time once again!

As ever, books continue to be a significant source of inspiration for filmmakers. This year, four of the eight nominees for Best Picture were inspired by books, and books of all sorts - from traditional folk tales to contemporary noir novels, superhero comics to real life war stories - appear in several other categories as well.

Here is your annual viewing/reading list of Oscar-nominated movies and the books that inspired them. All of these books are available at the library and some of the movies are already in too. Which ones will you be checking out?


American Sniper

American Sniper by Chris Kyle American Sniper movie posterBased on the autobiography American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle (audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook | large print | talking book for print disabled patrons).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role; Best Picture; Film Editing; Sound Editing; Sound Mixing; Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Synopsis: "Already skilled with a rifle before he joins the Navy SEALS and departs for Iraq, Chris Kyle becomes one of the most skilled snipers in U.S. military history. As he rotates through four tours of duty, however, Kyle must deal with the high levels of stress and the toll on his personal life that are an unavoidable part of his harrowing work."



The Boxtrolls

Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow The Boxtrolls movie posterBased on the fantasy novel for young readers Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures by Alan Snow.

Nominated for: Animated Feature Film.

Synopsis: "In the city of Cheesebridge, a community of shy trolls lives in hiding, emerging only at night to scavenge anything the humans have left outdoors. When they take a human baby and raise him as one of their own, his disappearance gives ammunition to the sinister Archibald Snatcher, who plans to advance his position in the town by eradicating the trolls."



Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America The Winter Soldier V. 1 by Ed Brubaker et al Captain America The Winter Solder movie posterBased on the Marvel comic book character Captain America, originally created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Sequel to the movie Captain America: The First Avenger.

Nominated for: Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "Steve Rogers, better known as the powerful super-soldier Captain America, finds himself facing a dangerous threat close to home: a U.S.-developed secret weapons system known as Project Insight. Alarmed by the weapon's ability to identify potential threats before they develop, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury calls Rogers in to investigate."



Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle Dawn of the Planet of the ApesBased on the science fiction classic Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle (audiobook | talking book for print disabled patrons). Sequel to the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the original Planet of the Apes movie.

Nominated for: Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "With most of the population wiped out by the virulent simian flu, a few remaining bands of humans live in harsh circumstances and uneasy proximity to the apes who are now the planet's leading species. In an effort to restore electricity to their community, husband and wife Malcolm and Ellie attempt to negotiate with primate leader Caesar, but individuals on both sides oppose any efforts at peaceful coexistence."




Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz Foxcatcher movie posterNot, strictly speaking, based on this book, but based on true events also described in the memoir Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother's Murder, John du Pont's Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold by Mark Schultz (eaudiobook | ebook).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role; Actor in a Supporting Role; Directing; Makeup and Hairstyling; Writing (Original Screenplay).

Synopsis: "Despite having won an Olympic gold medal, wrestler Mark Schultz lives in the shadow of his gregarious brother, Dave, also an Olympic medalist. When wealthy wrestling enthusiast John du Pont invites Mark to live and train at his estate, he is drawn into a bizarre world dominated by du Pont's erratic behavior."



Gone Girl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn Gone Girl movie posterBased on the bestselling psychological crime thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook | large print | talking book for print disabled patrons).

Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role.

Synopsis: "With his wife's disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it's suspected that he may not be innocent."



The Grand Budapest Hotel

Beware of Pity by Stefan Zweig The Post-Office Girl by Stefan Zweig The Grand Budapest Hotel movie posterInspired by the novels Beware of Pity, The Post-Office Girl, and other books by the great Austrian writer Stefan Zweig.

Nominated for: Best Picture; Cinematography; Costume Design; Directing; Film Editing; Makeup and Hairstyling; Music (Original Score); Production Design; Writing (Original Screenplay).

Synopsis: "As the owner of a once-luxurious Alpine hotel relates its history to a visiting writer, he describes his youth as a lobby boy at the Grand Budapest, where he was the protégé of the hotel's concierge, Monsieur Gustave. Gustave runs the five-star establishment with panache and an iron fist, while also offering his services as a lover to the older, wealthy women guests."



Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy V. 1 Cosmic Avengers by Brian Michael Bendis et al Guardians of the Galaxy movie posterBased on the Marvel superhero comic book team Guardians of the Galaxy, created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.

Nominated for: Makeup and Hairstyling; Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "Led by the laid-back human Quill, a group of misfit aliens reluctantly bands together to keep a powerful silver orb out of the hands of Ronan the Accuser, a villainous thug determined to use the orb's power to carry out his deadly plans and destroy the planet Xandar."



The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien The Hobbit movie posterBased on the classic fantasy and adventure saga The Hobbit, Or, There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien (also available in several audio and online formats). Sequel to the movies The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Nominated for: Sound Editing.

Synopsis: "As the saga of hobbit Bilbo Baggins and his adventures with the dwarf warriors fighting to reclaim their homeland comes to a close, the defeat of the fearsome dragon Smaug fails to bring the joy and prosperity to Erebor that its captive citizens had anticipated. As the dwarf prince Thorin Oakenshield yields to a lust for wealth, warring bands of dwarves and elves seek power for themselves in the wake of the dragon's demise."



How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressid Cowell How to Train Your Dragon 2 movie posterBased on the children's fantasy series How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell. Sequel to the movie How to Train Your Dragon.

Nominated for: Animated Feature Film.

Synopsis: "Viking dragon tamer Hiccup is now a young man, but he retains his longing for new experiences and his bond with his beloved dragon, Toothless. After Hiccup and his girlfriend Astrid uncover a hidden dragon paradise and the secret behind a family tragedy, all the Vikings must band together to protect the dragons against ruthless hunter Drago."



The Imitation Game

Alan Turing by Andrew Hodges The Imitation Game movie posterBased on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges (ebook).

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

Synopsis: "As World War II engulfs Europe, a group of English mathematicians are assembled at Bletchley Park to work in secret on cracking the code of a captured German Enigma encryption machine. With England's fate hanging in the balance, the group's leader, the brilliant, eccentric Alan Turing, must hide his homosexuality or risk arrest and persecution by the country he is fighting to save."



Inherent Vice

Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon Inherent Vice movie posterBased on the psychedelic noir detective novel Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon (audiobook | ebook | large print).

Nominated for: Costume Design; Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Synopsis: "Larry 'Doc' Sportello, a pot-smoking private eye living in a California beach town in 1970, finds himself pulled into a web of crime and deception when his former girlfriend asks for his help and then disappears. His investigation leads him to the widow of a musician who insists her husband is still alive, a police detective who works as a television extra, and a cocaine-snorting dentist."



Into the Woods

The Uses of Enchantment by Bruno Bettelheim Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine Into the Woods movie posterBased on the musical Into the Woods with lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by James Lapine, which was itself inspired by The Uses of Enchantment, a Freudian analysis of fairy tales by psychologist Bruno Bettelheim.

Nominated for: Actress in a Supporting Role; Costume Design; Production design.

Synopsis: "The stories from familiar fairy tales intertwine as their characters take on tasks and challenges that will change their lives. In order to break a curse cast upon them by a witch, a childless baker and his wife go on a quest in the woods, where they encounter Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and other lively inhabitants."




Sleeping Beauty by Charles Perrault illu Margaret Early Sleeping Beauty by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm illu Maja DusikovaSleeping Beauty Disney movie Maleficent movie poster Inspired by the folk tale Sleeping Beauty, originally recorded from the oral version by Charles Perrault, later interpreted by the Brothers Grimm, and made into the now classic animated Disney film.

Nominated for: Costume Design.

Synopsis: "Despite the often hostile relationship between humans and magical creatures, a kind young fairy named Maleficent forms a friendship that later turns to love with Stefan, a farm boy who wanders into the woods. Stefan's desire for power leads him to betray Maleficent, however, prompting her to cast a spiteful curse and incite a war."



Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova Still Alice movie posterBased on the bestselling novel Still Alice by Lisa Genova (audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook | large print | talking book for print disabled patrons).

Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role.

Synopsis: "Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children, is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a devastating diagnosis, Alice and her family find their bonds tested."



The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter interpreted by Kawabta The Bamboo Cutter and the Moon Maiden retold by Teresa Pierce Williston illu Dilleen Marsh The Tale of the Princess Kaguya movie posterBased on the 10th-century Japanese folktale The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (see also The Bamboo Cutter and the Moon Maiden).

Nominated for: Best Animated Feature Film.

Synopsis: "When a bamboo cutter named Okina finds a miniature infant inside a cane stalk, he brings her home to his wife, Ona, and she grows immediately to the size of a human baby. Called Princess by her adoptive parents, the magical child leads an idyllic life until her father finds riches hidden in the forest that he believes are her celestial dowry."



The Theory of Everything

Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking The Theory of Everything movie posterBased on the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen by Jane Hawking (ebook).

Nominated for: Actor in a Leading Role; Actress in a Leading Role; Best Picture; Music (Original Score); Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Synopsis: "Stephen Hawking is a brilliant Cambridge graduate student when he learns that he has a progressive motor neuron disease and may die within two years. For Jane Wilde, Stephen's fellow student and future wife, the prognosis represents not a certainty but a challenge that her faith and Stephen's passionate determination can overcome."



Two Days, One Night

The Weight of the World by Pierre Bourdieu et al Two Days One Night movie posterLoosely based on one of the sociological case studies in The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society by Pierre Bourdieu and Alain Accardo et al; translated by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson.

Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role.

Synopsis: "Sandra, a young Belgian mother, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job."




Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand Unbroken movie posterBased on the true story Unbroken: a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook | large print | talking book for print disabled patrons).

Nominated for: Cinematography; Sound Editing; Sound Mixing.

Synopsis: "Young Louie Zamperini's talent as a runner takes him to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, but the Second World War cuts short his dream of competing four years later in Tokyo. Joining the fighting as a U.S. Navy bombardier, Zamperini soon finds himself facing hardships that will test the will and determination that have been the driving forces of his earlier life."




Wild by Cheryl Strayed Wild movie posterBased on the memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (audiobook | eaudiobook | ebook | large print | talking book for print disabled patrons | book club set).

Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role; Actress in a Supporting Role.

Synopsis: "A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe."



X-Men: Days of Future Past

Stan Lee Presents Essential The Uncanny X-Men V. 1 Nos. 1-24 X-Men Days of Future Past movie posterBased on the Marvel comic book superheroes the X-Men, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, which have also inspired other X-Men movies.

Nominated for: Visual Effects.

Synopsis: "With the X-Men and their human allies under attack by a government-developed group of robots known as the Sentinels, Professor Xavier and Magneto send Wolverine into the past using Kitty Pryde's temporal telekinetic powers. His mission is to change the events that took place in 1973 and stop the Sentinel program before it begins."



Note: Film synopses are from the Oscars 2015 website except, from Internet Movie Database: Gone Girl; Still Alice; Two Days, One Night; Wild.


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