The 2012 Academy Award nominees were announced this morning, and the winners are: books! Eleven literary adaptations got the nod in the major categories, including two-thirds of the Best Picture nominees. You’ve got less than five weeks to read all of the books before seeing the movies, but trust us, in the case of this year’s amazing line-up, it’s definitely worth it.
“Hugo” — “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick
Who knew Scorcese has such a sweet spot for kiddie lit? The director of “Hugo” thanked author Brian Selznick—the man behind the Caldecott Medal–winning children’s book that inspired the film—in his Golden Globe acceptance speech. Selznick’s source material is the stuff of magic, incorporating illustrations to help tell the tale of an orphan boy on the adventure of a lifetime.
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson
While the film version may have brought in lackluster numbers at the box office, the novel and its two sequels are still hovering on bestseller lists. Rooney Mara’s performance was a stunner, but there’s something about reading the trials of Lisbeth Salander that will keep you awake long after you’ve finished the trilogy.
“The Help” — “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett
We were wowed by Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain (all nominated for their stellar performances) in “The Help,” and the Academy agreed. If your book club hasn’t already picked up this bestseller, make it your February pick.
“The Descendants” — “The Descendants” by Kaui Hart Hemmings
The movie version of this book might make you wonder who in their right mind would ever cheat on George Clooney, a nominee (and Golden Globe winner) for Best Actor. The book version will push you head first into the complexities of marriage and parenthood, life and death, and leave you wondering if there is such a thing as true paradise.
“Moneyball” — “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis’s 2003 bestseller about Billy Beane revolutionizing how baseball clubs are built has been praised by sports fans and novices alike. Plus, this film scored nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (for Brad Pitt) and Best Supporting Actor (for Jonah Hill). As we near tail end of the football season, it’s a good time to pick this one up—pitchers and catchers isn’t that far off!
“My Week with Marilyn” — “My Week With Marilyn” by Colin Clark
A young Colin Clark served as assistant director on “The Prince and the Showgirl,” a film that saw bombshell Marilyn Monroe (played by nominated actress Michelle Williams) act alongside Sir Laurence Olivier (portrayed by nominated actor Kenneth Branagh). What Clark least expected was to get the chance to see the woman behind the sex symbol. Lucky for us he wrote down his experiences with the screen legend in two diaries, which were eventually published as a book.
“The Iron Lady” — “The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, from Grocer’s Daughter to Prime Minister” by John Campbell
Two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep landed her 17th nomination for her portrayal of the Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. This film is not without controversy: Author John Campbell, who wrote the biography on which the movie was based, has openly criticized it for inaccuracy. The book is worth the read for the history, and to help you spot the embellishments on screen.
“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” — “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer
Oscar heavyweight Tom Hanks plays a father (married to Oscar winner Sandra Bullock) killed on 9/11. This Best Picture nominee has received mixed reviews but the book, which is narrated by the 9-year-old son Hanks’s character has left behind, shows how the human spirit is able to connect in times of tragedy.
“Albert Nobbs” — “Albert Nobbs: A Novella” by George Moore
Glenn Close secured a nomination for Best Actress for her portrayal of a waiter in 19th-century Dublin with a very big secret. Clocking in at a little over 100 pages, this is an easy read to fit in before you head to the movie theater.
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” — “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by John le Carré
Gary Oldman scored his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of British intelligence agent George Smiley. The definitive Cold War espionage novel, which is the first in a trilogy, was originally published in 1974, and had been previously adapted for both radio and television.
“War Horse” — “War Horse” by Michael Morpurgo
The successful stage production and Steven Spielberg’s nominated movie adaptation are both based off of Morpurgo’s children’s novel, set against World War I. While this film nods to classics like “Black Beauty” and “National Velvet,” it goes to darker places before reaching its bittersweet finale.