Oscar-Worthy Reads: 10 Oscar-Nominated Films This Year Based on Books

The biggest night in Hollywood is right around the corner! The 90th Academy Awards is scheduled to air this Sunday, March 4 live on ABC. The Oscar nominations have been out in the public for a few weeks now, and movie buffs are holding their breath for the official announcement of the winners.

While the majority of nominees are derived from original screenplays, there are a handful of motion pictures that have been adapted from our favorite medium, books. These films have made a point to stay true to their page-turning plots while creating a unique cinematic experience for audiences to enjoy. Many of these films explore themes of social, political, and ethical issues that resonate with conversations in contemporary culture.

We’ve compiled a list of ten potential winners and the books their screenplays were adapted from. Which ones are you most excited to read, watch, and see win?


Image via IMP Awards

Call Me By Your Name

Based on: Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

Nominated for: Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Timothée Chalamet), Music (Original Song), Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The adaptation of André Aciman’s 2007 acclaimed novel about a 17-year-old boy in Italy who has his sexual and intellectual awakening with a visiting American scholar has been receiving tons of praise this awards season. Screenwriter James Ivory chose to streamline and simplify the story, keeping the film true to what is illustrated throughout the novel. While it doesn’t seem to be the prime candidate to win Best Picture, it is expected to win for Best Adapted Screenplay. After the triumph of Moonlight winning Best Picture at last year’s awards, it’s about time that the Academy embraces the diversity amongst the films and actors they choose to recognize.


Image via Vox

Molly’s Game

Based on: Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker by Molly Bloom

Nominated for: Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Based on Molly Bloom’s memoir, Molly’s Game broadcasts the events leading up to the author’s arrest after running the world’s most exclusive, high-stakes poker empire for Hollywood celebrities, athletes, business tycoons, and Russian mobsters. Nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, Molly’s Game the film isn’t predicted to win in its only nominated category, but Molly’s Game the story is already a winner for its unapologetically honest and brutal portrayal of a woman trying to win in a traditionally man’s game. Molly is trying to contend in an environment where men are the ones making the rules and the rules are driven by their desires. Due to its relevance to the current cultural narrative amongst gender roles and power, Molly’s Game is an important film right now whether or not it takes home an Oscar.


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Based on: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Nominated for: Actress in a Supporting Role (Mary J. Blige), Cinematography, Music (Original Song), Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Producer and writer, Virgil Williams decided to adapt Hilary Jordan’s novel more than ten years ago. The story follows two families—one black and one white—that intersect during the 1940s in the Jim Crow South. Williams has compared Mudbound to something of the To Kill A Mockingbird of this generation. While the ending of the book and movie are different, they both manage to maintain the ethos of the original story through the characters’ tone and dialogue. Above all, the cinematography is the most distinguishing feature of the film, for it provides a beautiful yet haunting juxtaposition of life in Memphis.

While there was controversy questioning if a white author with an MFA could truly captivate the voice of the black experience,  Williams reminds us that it is not a story about one particular race, but a story about this country in which we all reside. It’s about both races and how they love, hate, and ultimately need each other even if they don’t realize it. Regardless of if Mudbound takes home any awards on Sunday night, it already has broken history for having the first African American woman (Dee Rees) ever to be nominated for Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and having the first woman (Rachel Morrison) to receive a Best Cinematographer nomination.


Image via The Aisle Seat


Based on: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Nominated for: Makeup and Hairstyling

Based on the 2012 bestselling young adult novel by R.J. Palacio, this heartfelt film tells the story of a boy born with a facial deformity who endures a decade of surgeries before finally being allowed to enroll in school. The film’s only nomination is in the category for Best Makeup and Hairstyling for its portrayal of a child with Treacher Collins syndrome. This was the first film that had a child actor (Jacob Tremblay) has been in full prosthetics for a lead role, and, because he was a minor, Tremblay had to carry the movie with less prep and shooting time. This film will have a hard time beating out The Darkest Hour in its category, this is a light-hearted family flick that encourages compassion, acceptance, and tolerance for all of those who are different—but not defined by their differences.


Image via IMBD


Based on: The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf with art by Robert Lawson

Nominated for: Animated Feature Film

The nomination of Ferdinand is considered the biggest surprise among animated features to be in the running for an Oscar. Inspired by the 1936 children’s book The Story of Ferdinand and the 1938 Oscar-winning Disney short “Ferdinand the Bull,” Ferdinand is a tale of a Spanish fighting bull who refuses to fight. The quirky film incorporates the color palette of Spain to enhance its compliments to the culture. While this film is light-hearted and youthful, it’s most significant and obvious message is encouraging individuals to embrace their identity. The message of tolerance and inclusion is something Ferdinand must learn for himself and the lesson his experiences teaches to the world around him.


Image via clickthecity

Beauty and the Beast

Based on: Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont

Nominated for: Costume Design, Production Design

Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, which grossed over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, landed a couple Oscar nominations in the style categories. With new songs, new backstories, and a new(-ish) ending, the live-action remake doesn’t stray away from the original, beloved plot and showcases the advancements in special effects and CGI technology. At its core, Beauty and the Beast is still the same story we all know and treasure as it continues to share the timeless message that love is love.


Image via IMP Awards

All The Money in the World

Based on: Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty by John Pearson

Nominated for: Actor in a Supporting Role (Christopher Plummer)

With so many wealthy tycoons in the news and in power, any insight into how such people think and conduct their lives is eaten up by the public. Adapted from John Pearson’s book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty, All the Money in the World is the story of the kidnapping of sixteen-year-old John Paul Getty III—the rebellious teenage grandson of oil billionaire John Paul Getty, who is reluctant to pay the $17 million ransom demanded by the kidnappers. Amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment, Kevin Spacey was pulled from the project and replaced by Christopher Plummer, who received an Oscar nomination for his performance and is now the oldest acting Oscar nominee ever at 88


Image via MS Magazine

The Breadwinner

Based on: The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Nominated for: Animated Feature Film

This adaptation of Deborah Ellis’ best-selling novel tells the story of Parvana, a young girl in Afghanistan who is forced to dress as a boy to provide for her family after her father is unjustly imprisoned. The Breadwinner is a testament to the power of storytelling, as Parvana goes into her head to escape her circumstances, with her imagination represented through cut-out animation. More importantly, this is a tale of female empowerment in desperate circumstances.

Blade Runner 2049

Based on: Characters from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Nominated for: Cinematography, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects

If you’re familiar with Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, then you may be aware that it was based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The phrase “blade runner” was actually a part of the title of a book written by William S. Burroughs. The screenwriter for the first film stumbled across the phrase and obtained the rights to use the name for the movie. You can trace the name back even earlier to science fiction author Alan Nourse; he published a novel back in 1974 titled The Bladerunners which illustrated a very Orwellian future set in the year 2009. Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel to the 80’s cult classic, set thirty years after the first film. The film is nominated for five Oscars, all of which pertain to its production and cinematography. 


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The Disaster Artist

Based on: The Disaster Artist by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Nominated for: Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made is Greg Sestero’s memoir about acting in a film called The Room that has been dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” James Franco takes Sestero’s story and adapts it into a hilarious original screenplay that illuminates the backstory of The Room and Sestero’s relationship with the director, writer, producer, and star of the film, Tommy Wiseau. It’s a movie within a movie, paying homage to some of the most memorable and unusual scenes in the original film. James Franco’s portrayal of the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau is ridiculously spot-on due to the time Franco studied and spent time around Wiseau. Ultimately, it’s a story about friendship, depicting the nature of two friends with aspirations of fame who encourage each other to pursue their dreams despite the ridicule and rejection they face. Above all, the story has a humanizing effect for Tommy Wiseau, who, like in his movie, is a simultaneous object of cultural fascination and mockery.