From Shakespeare to Tolkien or Jane Austen to J. K. Rowling, adaptations have accounted for huge critical and commercial successes and they certainly haven’t been ignored at the Academy Awards. We all know the past Best Picture Winners like, “Gone With the Wind”, “Hamlet”, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Lord of the Rings” are the film versions of great pieces of literature. But after doing some investigation I found that there have been a lot of Best Picture winning films that I had no idea were based on books.
This year in particular, Oscar seemed to favor movies based on books. In fact, more than half of the best picture nominees fit into this category. Life of Pie, is based on the Yann Martel’s 2001 novel, which until recently most considered un-filmable. Sunday night’s best picture winner, Argo was adapted from the book, The Master of Disguise, by CIA operative Toney Mendez. Les Miserables is based on the 1862 novel by Victor Hugo. I’ve heard Lincoln is drawn from only 6 pages of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s tome, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook is also based on a novel of the same name, by Matthew Quick.
Some of these surprised me (Argo, and Silver Linings Playbook) others I knew just by looking at the title (Life of Pi). Here are seven best picture winners that you might not have known were literary adaptations.
1.) “It Happened One Night” (Best Picture, 1934) comes from the 1933 short story, “Night Bus,” by Samuel Hopkins.
2.) “Gigi” (Best Picture, 1958) is based on a novella by the same name written by Collette in 1944.
3.) “The Godfather” (Best Picture, 1972) was adapted from the 1969 Mario Puzo novel.
4.) “Kramer vs. Kramer” (Best Picture, 1979) brings to life the novel by Avery Corman, published in 1977.
5.) “Terms of Endearment” (Best Picture, 1983) is based on the novel by Larry McMurty.
6.) “Forrest Gump” (Best Picture, 1994) comes from the 1986 book by Winston Groom.
7.) “Slum Dog Millionaire” (Best Picture, 2008) was derived from the 2005 novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup.
Did other people not know these films were based on books, or am I just totally out of the loop? Let us know in the comments if you are now interested in reading any of the books from this list, or the 2013 nominee list. I am now very intrigued with Forrest Gump, Gigi, and Silver Linings Playbook.