The awards season is right around the corner, and while we gather to celebrate the original and innovative films put out each year, it’s worth giving a nod to those books that some fantastic films took their inspiration from. And this year, there’s quite a few. The Academy Awards are announced on February 26th – why not pick up one (or more) of these books that inspired films before then?
Arrival, the science fiction film starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, has garnered a whopping eight Academy Award nominations (for Best Picture, Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Adapted Screenplay). Before it found life on the big screen, Arrival started life as the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chieng. Examining determinism, language, and of course aliens, this Nebula Award winning novella can be found along with other Chieng stories in the collection Arrival.
Winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1987, Fences is a play that tells the story of Troy, a fifty-three year old African-American man in Pittsburgh struggling to provide for his family after returning from prison for manslaughter. The play deals with race, segregation, and family. Like Arrival, Fences is simply rolling in the nominations, being nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Denzel Washington), Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis), and Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis). For those who might be a bit tired of the classic novel format, why not give this influential and important play a go?
The incredible visual delight Lion was inspired by the touching memoir A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. A true story, the memoir starts with Saroo, a five year old boy, falling asleep on an empty train car, and accidentally travelling over 1600 kilometres from home. There, in Calcutta, Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple, and moves across the ocean to start his new life. Twenty five years later, Saroo returns home to find his birth mother. The emotional film adaption has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel) and Actress (Nicole Kidman), Cinematography, Music (Original Score), and Adapted Screenplay.
The critically successful 1993 novel Tony & Susan by Austin Wright has been adapted into the psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals, where the lines between reality and fiction are blurred. When a manuscript from her ex-husband turns up after twenty five years, Susan finds herself drawn into the disturbing fictional world he has created. As the events of the novel have more and more of an effect on Susan’s daily life, she must finally confront the past and the pain that lies there. Garnering a nomination for Best Supporting Actor (Michael Shannen), this book is as gripping as the film.
The New York Times best-seller Hidden Figures tells an important story both on screen and page. This historical account by Margot Lee Shetterley looks at the forgotten female African-American mathematicians at NASA who were essential to the space missions of the 20th century, and yet left out of the history books. An empowering look at women of colour in history, Hidden Figures has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) and Adapted Screen Play.
The 1966 historical fiction Silence by Shusaku Endo has been adapted and nominated for an award in Cinematography. For lovers of all things history and Japanese, Silence tells the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan, who endures persecution in the time of “Hidden Christians.” An oft forgotten part of history, Silence is written partly in the form of a letter from its central character, and looks at religious discrimination, racism, and perseverance in the face of adversity.
No fan of J.K. Rowling would have missed the new blockbuster instalment that came out in 2016. The much loved Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has been nominated for Best Costume Design and Production Design. The book itself differs from the plot of the film, but every Harry Potter fan should read this loving and fun encyclopaedia of the magical beasts that exist in the Hogwarts universe.
Nominated for Best Documentary, Life, Animated is the non-fiction account of author Ron Suskind’s son. An autistic boy who couldn’t speak for years, Owen used the language and dialogue of Disney movies to learn how to speak with love, compassion, and friendship. A must-read for any adult who still has a special place in their heart for the Disney movies of their childhood, and knows just how they teach children to love.
The international bestseller A Man Called Ove has been nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Listed #46 on Australia’s Top 100, and originally in Swedish by Fredrik Backman, this is a heartwarming tale of a grumpy old man learning lessons of love, community, and the knowledge that first impressions aren’t always the right one.
Major blockbuster film Sully, starring Tom Hanks, drew its inspiration from autobiography Highest Duty. An incredible true tale of Captain Sullenberg, an American hero who landed a crippled plane on the Hudson River saving everyone on board, this memoir will leave you inspired, imparting lessons of dedication, hope, and a commitment to tackle life’s challenges head on. Sully has been nominated for Best Sound Editing.
13 Hours, and the film of the same name, is the incredible true story of the events of September 11 2012. When terrorists attacked a US state station in Libya, troops on the ground went above the call of duty and refused to stand down, fighting against all odds to retake the station. This intensely personal account will take you right to the heart of the attack, and into the hearts of the troops who refused to let terror win. 13 Hours has been nominated for Best Sound Mixing.
The much-loved Jungle Book has recently been made into a live action film, which has been nominated for Best Visual Effects. A must read for any young child, The Jungle Book follows Mowgli on his adventures through the jungles of India, and all the weird and wonderful animals he meets there. Essential reading – and worth a reread for any adult who has forgotten the magic of nature.