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9 Books You Have to Read Before the Oscars

Behind most great movies lies an even better book. In fact, more than two thirds of the Academy’s Best Picture winners were based on books (see the whole list here). Odds are that list will grow come February 28th – six of this year’s Best Picture nominees are based on books, and a few more appear in the Best Actor and Actress categories. So here it is, our list of the exceptional books you need to read before Oscar season is over.

Best Picture

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punte

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge by Michael Punte

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy, The Revenant is nominated for a whopping 11 Oscars, including Best Actor in a Leading Role. The book by author Michael Punte is based on the story of real-life trapper and frontiersman Hugh Glass. Set in 1823, The Revenant is a remarkable tale of obsession and the lengths that one man will go to for retribution.


Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

Based on the novel by Irish writer Colm Toibin, Brooklyn is nominated for three Oscars. Saoirse Ronan is nominated for her role as Toibin’s main character Eilis who immigrates to Brooklyn in the 1950s, leaving her fragile mother and her charismatic sister behind. Eilis finds work in a department store on Fulton Street, and when she least expects it, meets Tony – but just as Eilis begins to fall in love, devastating news from Ireland threatens the promise of her future.


The Martian by Andy Weir The Martian by Andy Weir

Nominated for seven Oscars, The Martian stars Matt Damon as author Andy Weir’s leading man, astronaut Mark Watney. Watney’s dialogue makes for a very entertaining read: “I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed.”


Room by Emma Donoghue Room by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the world. . .. It’s where he was born, it’s where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. It’s the kind of book movie producers dream of! The film adaptation of Canadian author Emma Donoghue‘s bestseller is nominated for four Oscars, including Actress in a Leading Role for Brie Larson who plays Ma.


Bridge of Spies by Giles WhittellBridge of Spies by Giles Whittell

Who were the three men the American and Soviet superpowers exchanged at Berlin’s Glienicke Bridge and Checkpoint Charlie in the first and most legendary prisoner exchange between East and West? Bridge of Spies vividly traces their paths to that exchange on February 10, 1962, when their fate helped to define the conflicts and lethal undercurrents of the most dangerous years of the Cold War. These events are adapted for film in Best Picture nominee starring Tom Hanks.


The Big Short by Michael Lewis The Big Short by Michael Lewis

Yet another film adaptation for non-fiction writer Michael Lewis, who also penned Moneyball (the movie starred Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill) and The Blindside (this one starred Sandra Bullock).  The Big Short has its own star-studded cast including Christian Bale who plays Michael Burry, the eccentric money manager who anticipated the 2008 financial crisis and bet against the housing industry.


Best Actor and Actress in a Leading Role

The Danish Girl by David EbershoffThe Danish Girl by David Ebershoff

Uniting fact and fiction into an original romantic vision, The Danish Girl eloquently portrays the unique intimacy that defines every marriage and the remarkable story of Lili Elbe, a pioneer in transgender history. Eddie Redmayne is nominated for his portrayal of Lili, while actress Alicia Vikander is nominted for her  role as Lili’s wife, Gerda.



Trumbo by Bruce CookTrumbo by Bruce Cook

Dalton Trumbo was the central figure in the “Hollywood Ten,” the blacklisted and jailed screenwriters. One of several hundred writers, directors, producers, and actors who were deprived of the opportunity to work in the motion picture industry from 1947 to 1960, he was the first to see his name on the screen again. This intriguing biography shows that all his life Trumbo was a radical of the homegrown, independent variety. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) is nominated for his role as Trumbo.


Carol by Patricia Highsmith Carol by Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith wrote The Price of Salt in 1952, and until now it’s remained a little-known cult classic. Now titled Carol, the book is based on a true story plucked from Highsmith’s own life –  the riveting drama of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose routine is forever shattered by the appearance of Carol Aird, a customer who comes in to buy her daughter a Christmas toy.  Cate Blanchett is nominated for her portrayal of Carol.


Which film has your vote?

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