Book Adaptions…. Books that are adapted into hit movies are nothing new. Academy Award Best Picture winner Gone with the Wind (1939) is an adaptation of Margaret Mitchell’s bestselling novel. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (Best Picture 1940) was adapted from Daphne du Maurier’s psychological novel. And the list goes on to include dozens of movies through the years, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Forrest Gump, Terms of Endearment and Schindler’s List.

Book Adaptions for Best Picture Oscar Nominees

This year’s list of Oscar nominees is no exception. Of the eight nominations for best picture, for instance, five are films based on books. Let’s take a look at the books upon which these Oscar contenders are based.

Book Adaptions For Best Picture Nominees – The Revenant by Michael Punke (Carroll & Graf, 2002)

The 2015 film, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is based upon Michael Punke’s tale of revenge and retribution on the American frontier. Punke based his story on the real-life adventures of Hugh Glass, an American explorer, fur trapper and fur trader.

After being nearly mauled to death by a grizzly, Glass is left as dead by the men designated to watch over him and give him a decent burial. To make matters worse, they take his only means of survival – his hatchet and his gun. Glass is then driven to extreme limits by his desire for revenge and by his extraordinary will to live.

Punke’s prose is lean, and his style lends itself well to the horrific subject matter. At the time of its publication, Publishers Weekly called the novel “a spellbinding tale of heroism and obsessive retribution.”

Favorite quote: “His awe of the mountains grew in the days that followed, as the Yellowstone River led him nearer and nearer. Their great mass was a marker, a benchmark fixed against time itself. Others might feel disquiet at the notion of something so much larger than themselves. But for Glass, there was a sense of sacrament that flowed from the mountains like a font, an immortality that made his quotidian pains seem inconsequential.”

Book Adaptions For Best Picture Nominees – The Big Short by Michael Lewis (W. W. Norton & Company, 2010)

This non-fiction book about the housing and credit bubble of the 2000s is brimming with energy and verve. In the vein that truth is stranger than fiction, Lewis introduces us to real-life characters – some heroes, some not – who played a part in perhaps the most compelling financial story of our time.

This book follows on the heels of Lewis’s book Liar’s Poker in that it uses dark humor to keep things fresh and interesting as he explores a topic that might otherwise seem boring.

In a review at its publication, The New York Times wrote,“Writing in faintly Tom Wolfe-ian prose, Mr. Lewis does a colorful job of introducing the lay reader to the Darwinian world of the bond market.”

Favorite quote: “What are the odds that people will make smart decisions about money if they don’t need to make smart decisions–if they can get rich making dumb decisions? The incentives on Wall Street were all wrong; they’re still all wrong.”

Book Adaptions For Best Picture Nominees – Room by Emma Donoghue (Little, Brown and Company, 2010)

Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue’s novel is told from the perspective of Jack, a five-year-old who is being held captive in a small room along with his mother. Donoghue reportedly got the idea from the true story of an Austrian woman who was held captive by her father in a corridor of her family home.

The author also wrote the screenplay for the 2015 film, which stars Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson. The New York Times review calls Jack’s voice “one of the pure triumphs of the novel: in him, she(Donoghue) has invented a child narrator who is one of the most engaging in years — his voice so pervasive I could hear him chatting away during the day when I wasn’t reading the book.”

Favorite quote: “When I tell her what I’m thinking and she tells me what she’s thinking, our each ideas jumping into the other’s head, like coloring blue crayon on top of yellow that makes green.”

Book Adaptions For Best Picture Nominees – Brooklyn by Colm Toibín (Viking, 2009)

This haunting novel introduces us to Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman who travels to Brooklyn in the 1950s in search of work and a better life. There she finds work in a department store, friendship in a boarding house and love at a community hall dance.

When tragedy brings her back home to Ireland, all she has built for herself threatens to come crashing down.

The New York Times review in 2009 states, “Is it surprising if a seed grows where it lands, once it’s been scattered? Can it be helped? In “Brooklyn,” Colm Toibin quietly, modestly shows how place can assert itself, enfolding the visitor, staking its claim.”

Favorite quote: “She felt almost guilty that she had handed some of her grief to him, and then she felt close to him for his willingness to take it and hold it, in all its rawness, all its dark confusion.”

Book Adaptions For Best Picture Nominees – Martian by Andy Weir (self-published, 2011, hardcover by Crown Publishing Group, 2014)

American science fiction author Andy Weir self-published Martian in 2011. The novel tells the story of Mark Watney, an American astronaut who is stranded alone on Mars in 2035 and what he does to survive.

Weir began writing the book in 2009, extensively researching manned spaceflight, astronomy and orbital mechanics to make it as relevant to existing technology as possible. Weir initially planned to release one chapter at a time on his website for his tech-nerd following, but he ended up putting them into eBook form.

Since NASA has announced plans to reach Mars by 2030, the book and the 2015 film, starring Matt Damon, are timely.

Favorite quote: “I can’t wait till I have grandchildren. When I was younger, I had to walk to the rim of a crater. Uphill! In an EVA suit! On Mars, ya little shit! Ya hear me? Mars!”

Oscar Looks To Book Adaptions For Best Picture Nominees