When the Oscars air on Sunday night, most viewers will be thinking about movies, but we here at The National will still be thinking about books — specifically, what role books have played in the nominated movies. Last year was, it turns out, a pretty good year for literary adaptations: 14 of the nominees are based on books and short stories, including three of the Best Picture nominees -- and that does not include two Best Picture nominees that started out as plays (Fences and Moonlight) and two more nominees -- Best Makeup and Hairstyling nominee Suicide Squad and Best Visual Effects nominee Dr. Strange -- derived from comic books.
Arrival is a different kind of first-contact movie. Although it stars Amy Adams as a xenolinguistic translator this smash-hit alien movie really isn’t about aliens at all. At its heart, like all good science fiction, it is a meditation on the human condition, based on Ted Chiang’s profound short story, "Story of Your Life."
Hidden Figures, the feel-good box-office phenomenon, is teaching the nation about the African-American female mathematicians who labored behind the scenes at NASA — and endured a good deal of ugly racism — to help put American astronauts in space. Before the movie, starring Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, Margot Lee Shetterly told the heroic women’s story in a book by the same name that climbed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
Lion, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, is the true story of a boy who accidentally loses his family on the streets of Calcutta, is adopted and brought to Australia, and decades later returns to India in search of his family. The movie is based on Saroo Brierley’s inspiring memoir, A Long Way Home, an international bestseller
Other Literature-Based Nominees
French language psychological thriller Elle, starring Best Actress nominee Isabelle Huppert, is based on the Philippe Dijan novel Oh . . .
The fashion mega-star Tom Ford’s neo-noir thriller Nocturnal Animals, which stars Best Supporting Actor nominee Michael Shannon, is based on Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan.
Family film My Life as a Courgette, nominated for Best Animated Feature Film, is based on the Gilles Paris novel Autobiographie d’une Courgette.
Swedish dramedy A Man Called Ove, which received two nominations, Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, is based on Frederik Backman’s book A Man Called Ove.
Best Documentary—Feature nominee I Am Not Your Negro is based on author and civil rights icon James Baldwin’s unfinished book manuscript Remember This House.
Life, Animated, nominated for Best Documentary—Feature, is based on Ron Suskind’s book Life, Animated: A story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism.
Sully, which is nominated for Best Sound Editing, is based on Highest Duty, the autobiography Chesley Sullenberger wrote with Jeffrey Zaslow.
Blind Vaysha, the story of a little girl who has one eye that sees the past and another that sees the future, which was nominated for Best Animated Short, is based on the Georgi Gospodinov short story of the same name.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, nominated for Best Sound Mixing, is based on the Mitchell Zuckoff book 13 Hours: The Inside Story of What Really Happened in Bengazi.
Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, nominated for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design, is based on the J.K. Rowling novel of the same name.
The Martin Scorsese passion project Silence, nominated for Best Cinematography, is a historical drama based on the 1966 Shūsaku Endō novel of the same name.
The Jungle Book, nominated for Best Visual Effects, is based on the classic Rudyard Kipling story collection.