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The 76th Academy Awards Ceremony: Feb 26th

abstract:BookBuffet's Books to Film feature for February is devoted to the Oscar list. Great films often derive from great books and successful screenplay adaptations. Have your read any of the original books these nominated films are based on? Chances are the ones you've read will affect your own voting at home when they announce "..and the winner goes to...!"


February 02, 2004

Here is the list of Academy nominated films in alphabetical order, with links to the books that they were adapted from. Some links go directly to the screenwriter's International Movie Data Base information page.


Oscar Nominee List 

Oscar Winner List 


The Barbarian Invasions received the Best Screenplay Award at Cannes Film Festival last May. "His intensely personal, challenging, and intellectual films have gained Canadian filmmaker Denys Arcand a devoted international following. A former documentarian whose understanding of the human condition often results in movies with realistic and honest personalities, Arcand has seemingly cornered the market in cerebral, character-driven stories in an era when computer-generated explosions fill the multiplexes."  

*Winner: Best Foreign Film


Big Fish: A Novel of Epic Proportions, by Daniel Wallace (Penguin USA; 1999) "People mess things up, forget and remember all the wrong things. What's left is fiction," writes Wallace in his refreshing, original debut, which ignores the conventional retelling of the events..." Publishers Weekly  Through these tall tales—hilarious and wrenching, tender and outrageous—William begins to understand his elusive father's great feats and great failings.







City of God is based on the book Ciudad de Dios by Paulo Lins (Tusquets; June 2003), which is reportedly semi-autobiographical and follows two boys growing up on the mean streets of a Rio de Janeiro slum. One becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer. One of Brazil's notorious alleged drug lords (Paulo Sergio Mangno) was arrested in the lobby of the film's sneak preview, which added to the media attention of the film release there.


Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier (Vintage; 1998) "Winner the National Book Award. The tale chronicles a Confederate army deserter's search for home and love in the last days of the Civil War." Amazon

*Winner: Best Supporting Actress, Renee Zellweger


Evil is a Swedish film directed by Mikael Hafstrom. Erik, an abused teenager who has been expelled from his school for violent behavior, is given a final chance at an education when his mother sends him to an exclusive private academy. He soon discovers, however, that the school's privileged upperclassmen are permitted to engage in a cruel reign of terror over the younger students. Screenwriters Jan Guillou, Hans Gunnarsson, and Mikael Hafstrom.


The Girl with the Pearl Earring, by Tracey Chevalier (Plume; 2001) This popular book group historical fiction centers on the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer and his possible relationship to the model for his painting of the same name. Griet is hired as a household domestic and becomes the painter's assisant and more.  


House of Sand and Fog, by Andre Dubus III (Vintage Books; (2000) "In this riveting novel of almost unbearable suspense, three fragile yet determined people become dangerously entangled in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Colonel Behrani, once a wealthy man in Iran, is now a struggling immigrant willing to bet everything he has to restore his family's dignity. Kathy Niccolo is a recovering alcoholic and addict whose house is all she has left, and who refuses to let her hard-won stability slip away from her." Washington Post World


In America, written by Jim Sheridan and Naomi & Kirsten Sheridan. "Nominated for the category of Best Original Screenplay, this is the story of Johnny and Sarah, Irish immigrants living in New York illegally with their two daughters, Christy and Ariel." synopsis


The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigô Takamori, by Mark Ravina (John Wiley & Sons; 2003) "Tokugawa shogunate's fall and succession by a modernizing monarchy, the so-called Satsuma Rebellion of 1877 is clearly the definitive last stand of Japanese feudalism." Booklist


The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien (Del Rey; 1986) "This three volume masterpiece is at once a classic myth and a modern fairy tale—a story of high and heroic adventure set in the unforgettable landscape of Middle-Earth." The New York Times

*Winner: 11 wins including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay


Lost in Translation, written by Sofia Coppola. Already an award winner, Sofia's movie is up for three Oscar nominations. Here is the story: "Two Americans in Tokyo, a middle-aged actor and a neglected young wife, find themselves drawn to each other as they struggle with jet lag and loneliness. Each is at a personal crossroads and in need of companionship as they take refuge in the unlikely bond that develops between them." synopsis

*Winner: Best Original Screenplay


Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,by Patrick O'Brian (W.W. Noron & Company; 2003) "Captures the experiences of a Royal Navy officer and his close friend and traveling companion, a naval surgeon. The experiences cover a broad swath of the Napoleonic Wars and virtually the whole globe." Amazon

*Winner: Best Cinematography


Monster, written and directed by Patty Jenkins "Based on a true story of a highway prostittue who was executed for killing seven men in the State of Florida during the 80's." Internet Movie Database

*Winner: Best Actress, Charlize Theron


Mystic River, by Dennis Lehane (HarperTorch; 2002) "Referred to as 'the golden boy of noir' this is the story of three childhood friends who all reunite for different reasons, after one loses a daughter." Amazon 
*Winner: Best Actor, Sean Penn 

*Winner: Best Supporting Actor, Tim Robbins


Pieces of April (original novel by Diane Haeger) shooting script by Peter Hedges (Newmarket Press 2003) "In the late 1980s, Hedges, who adapted What's Eating Gilbert Grape, first had the idea for the screenplay Pieces of April—about a 20-something living in Manhattan's Alphabet City who tries to bridge an estranged relationship with her mother who's sick with cancer. Getting the movie made was its own story... " Publishers Weekly


Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, by Irene Trimble. Disney and Johnny Depp have attempted to carry forward where Stevenson's Treasure Island and Sabatini's Captain Blood left off. This is a YA novelization.


Seabiscuit: An American Legend, by Laura Hillenbrand (Ballantine Books; 2002) This is a book group favorite which illuminates the life of horse racing and a horse that captured the hearts of the depression-era American people. 


Thirteen, Nikki Reed wrote and starred in this film, with screenplay co-written and produced by Catherine Hardwicke. This is the movie that mothers and daughters see together and appreciate each other more coming out. See the links at the end of this article on how to obtain the published screenplay.


21 Grams, by Guillermo Arriaga (Faber & Faber; 2004) "The fates of three strangers collide when Tony (Benicio Del Toro), an ex-convict and born-again Christian, accidentally kills a man and his two daughters. As Tony struggles to reconcile his fear of jail with a tenuous faith, the widowed Christina (Naomi Watts) descends into a dangerous cycle of grief, rage, and drug abuse." Amazon


Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera (Harcourt Paperbacks; 2003) A touching tale from the Maori native culture of New Zealand. Originally published in 1987, about a girl who is driven to challenge her sociological and cultural traditions, fatalistically provides the key to their future. 


Zelary, by Kveta LegAitovAi (Paseka; 2001) The Czech Foreign Language nominee "focuses on a man and a woman from opposite social backgrounds who overcome the odds to find love. A critical and commercial success in Czechoslovakia. 



More Interesting Links

Samuel French Theatre & Film Bookshops: Plays and books on fiilm, theatre, and the motion picture industry.  Download one of their catalogs, or (if you live nearby) browse one of their shops in Hollywood, New York, Toronto, or London, England. 


Screenplay and Entertainment Industry Search Resources: for a one-time subscription fee of $9.95 you can get rapid downloads of all the latest scripts. New Additions include: Adaptation, Almost Famous, Big Fish, As Good As It Gets, Fight Club and many more. Why not select a screen play for your next book group? 



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