Share 12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

Julianna Haubner joined the editorial team at Simon & Schuster in September 2014. A lifelong reader, she is most drawn to literary fiction, biography, cultural history, and narrative non-fiction; it’s her firm belief that every human should own a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, and Empire Falls is the book that changed her life. When Julianna’s not reading and reviewing, she’s downloading podcast episodes as if there are more than 24 hours in a day, watching Bravo, baking, and running the Off the Shelf Instagram. You can follow her on Twitter @jhaubner2.

Some of the most beloved and respected films throughout history have found their stories in books. Just look at some of this year’s nominees—The Danish Girl, Brooklyn, The Revenant, Room, Carol (from Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt) to name just a few—for proof. In advance of the 88th annual Academy Awards, here is a list of spectacular Oscar-nominated films—some winning, some overlooked (coughSHAWSHANKcough)—that were adapted from equally spectacular books.


Cold Mountain
by Charles Frazier

Winner of the National Book Award, this historical retelling of The Odyssey transplants the classic myth to the American South near the end of the Civil War. A perilous journey across a war-ravaged landscape explores the timeless theme of homecoming at the close of America’s most devastating war.


"Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" from Different Seasons
by Stephen King
"The Shawshank Redemption" was adapted from a novella in Stephen King’s 1982 collection DIFFERENT SEASONS. A banker from Maine begins serving a life sentence and meets a fellow prisoner who has learned to smuggle things into the jail from the outside. Morgan Freeman, who earned a Best Actor nomination for his portrayal of Red, considers "Shawshank" one of his favorite stories.

Forrest Gump
by Winston Groom

This is one of the most quotable and beloved films of all time. Spanning three decades of American history, Winston Groom’s novel introduces us to the hero Forrest Gump, who sets out on an unbelievable path that transforms his life—and ours. And if you’re still longing for more Gump, you’re in luck! Unlike the film, this book has a sequel, GUMP & CO.


Up in the Air
by Walter Kirn

Ryan Bingham fires people for a living—a career that has kept him flying around the country for years. Though he hates his day job, he grows to love the community of frequent flyers and finds comfort in the familiarity and also the anonymity. His ultimate goal is one million miles, but things get a little bumpy.


Q & A
by Vikas Swarup

You may know this Oscar-winning adaptation as “Slumdog Millionaire.” In this stunning debut novel, a poor orphan who has never read a newspaper, is being questioned by police in a Mumbai jail cell under suspicions that he cheated trivia game show. But through a series of stories, Ram explains how life in the streets gave him the answers he needed.


Kramer vs. Kramer
by Avery Corman

Published in 1977, this bestselling novel changed the national conversation about divorce and family in the modern age. Chronicling a custody battle between Joanna and Ted Kramer, it’s a layered, complicated, and emotional story of oppositions: mother versus father, freedom versus responsibility, petitioner versus respondent—but not in the way you would expect.


Terms of Endearment
by Larry McMurtry
Another beloved classic. Aurora Greenway is a widow, overprotective of her free-spirited daughter. This beautiful mother–daughter tale is one of the saddest, and known to reduce even the most stoic of moviegoers—and readers—to tears.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
First published in "Collier’s" magazine in 1922 and adapted to film almost a century later, this short story follows the life of Benjamin Button, who is born with the physical appearance of a seventy-year-old man and, as it is later discovered, ages backward. It’s a bittersweet, poignant exploration of life and time, and the length is perfect for a pre-screening read.

A Beautiful Mind
by Sylvia Nasar

Nasar’s biography of mathematical genius John Nash is a drama about the mystery of the human mind and the power of love. By the age of thirty, Nash was a legend—and already suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Remarkably, Nash triumphed over adversity, won world acclaim and a Nobel Prize.


The Gangs of New York
by Herbert Asbury
This classic was the inspiration for Scorsese’s award-winning about the nineteenth-century gangs who ruled the Bowery and Five Points districts of Manhattan. It’s a deep and fascinating history that nicely complements the film.

The Hours
by Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham’s masterwork is a triptych that tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf in 1923, a Los Angeles housewife in 1949, and the beloved friend of an acclaimed poet who is dying of AIDS in the 1990s. This novel is an homage to MRS. DALLOWAY and a gorgeous meditation on home and family, art, and the passage of time.

Dances with Wolves
by Michael Blake

As gorgeous and lush as its film adaptation, Michael Blake’s novel follows Civil War veteran John Dunbar, who has been ordered to hold an abandoned army post alone and beyond the edge of civilization in the West. After a series of events forces him to seek shelter in a Native American camp, his life is forever changed.


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