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.

Cold Mountain
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.

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"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.
"Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" from Different Seasons
Stephen King

The beloved 1994 film, "The Shankshank Redemption", is based on the novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" from King's collection, "Different Seasons". The novella is the most satisfying tale of unjust imprisonment and offbeat escape since The Count of Monte Cristo. The film, which starred Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins, was nominated for seven Oscars. The story "The Body", from the same collection, is the basis for the 1986 film, "Stand by Me", also Oscar nominated.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

By Julianna Haubner | February 23, 2016

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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.

Forrest Gump
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.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

By Julianna Haubner | February 23, 2016

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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.

Up in the Air
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.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

By Julianna Haubner | February 23, 2016

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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.

Q & A
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.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

By Julianna Haubner | February 23, 2016

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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.

Kramer vs. Kramer
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.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

By Julianna Haubner | February 23, 2016

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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.
Terms of Endearment
Larry McMurtry

In this acclaimed novel that inspired the Academy Award-winning motion picture, McMurtry created two unforgettable characters Aurora Greenway and her daughter Emma. Their struggle to find the courage and humor to live through life's hazards -- and to love each other -- grabs you by the heart and doesn't let go.

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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.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Not really time travel in the purest sense of the leap through time kind of romance thing but what is the story of a man who is born old and gets younger and younger if it's not time travel?

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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.

A Beautiful Mind
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.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

By Julianna Haubner | February 23, 2016

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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 Gangs of New York
Herbert Asbury

If you liked Scorsese's film, you have to read this. First published in 1928, Herbert Asbury's whirlwind tour through the low-life of nineteenth-century New York has become an indispensible classic of urban history. Focusing on the saloon halls, gambling dens, and winding alleys of the Bowery and the notorious Five Points district it dramatically evokes the destitution and shocking violence of a turbulent era, when colorfully named criminals like Dandy John Dolan, Bill the Butcher, and Hell-Cat Maggie lurked in the shadows, and infamous gangs like the Plug Uglies, the Dead Rabbits, and the Bowery Boys ruled the streets.

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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.
The Hours
Michael Cunningham

This Pulitzer Prize–winning novel turned Oscar-winning film is a profound story of how three generations of women were transformed by Virginia Woolf’s distinguished work Mrs. Dalloway.

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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.

Dances with Wolves
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.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Oscar Nominated Films You Never Knew Were Based on Books

By Julianna Haubner | February 23, 2016

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