There’ve been a good number of books that have seen movie adaptations over the years. Some bad, some good, and then you get those that transcend expectations and go on to become award-winning material.

There are some that are really obvious – movies like The Silence of the Lambs, Schindler’s List, Slumdog Millionaire and Gone with the Wind immediately come to mind but there are also a number of award-winning movies that you probably didn’t know were authored before there was screenplay.

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We highlight a few over the years, starting with this year’s films that are up for awards:

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

A movie that’s received critical acclaim and has already won several awards, Call Me by Your Name is based on the novel with the same name about forbidden romance that blooms between an adolescent boy named Elio and an older man named Oliver who comes to stay with Elio and his parents at their Italian villa during the summer holidays.

Nominations for the film include: Best picture, Best actor in a leading role, best writing adapted screenplay and best original song.

Wins: Best writing adapted screenplay

The Shape of Water by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus

Did you know that this fantasy-romance actually stemmed from an idea that Guillermo del Toro and author Daniel Kraus fleshed out together? It was the big winner this year. 

And this is one of those instances where The Shape of Water was adapted to film first, because the novelisation of the movie is only being released this month.

If you haven’t gotten around to seeing it yet, the story is set in the 1960s and revolves around a janitor who works in a  top secret government research facility. 

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When she discovers the secret asset they’ve recently acquired – a humanoid amphibian like creature – she’s instantly drawn to it; even more so when she discovers that he’s sentient. 

What follows is an unlikely love story filled with obstacles and obstruction, and one that will have you rooting for a happily ever after.

Nominations for the movie include the following: Best achievement in directing, best actress in a leading role, best performance by an actor and actress in supporting roles, best original score, to mention but a few (this is one of the movies that received so many nominations, that you can check out the full list here.

Wins: Best director, best picture, best original music score, best production design.

All the Money In the World by John Pearson

The movie, starring Michelle Williams, Mark Wahlberg and Christopher Plummer is based on the biography that explores The Getty family – one of the wealthiest families of the United States. 

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The story particularly focuses on the kidnapping of then 16-year old Paul Getty, in which his grandfather refused to pay the ransom (unaware of him being tortured), leaving his mother to bravely fight for and negotiate with his kidnappers.

Nominations include: Best actor in a supporting role

Wins: Unfortunately no wins here.

A look back at some previous Oscar winning movies based on books:

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Based on the memoir this movie tells the story of a black man who was born free in New York but ended up being kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years.

Oscar awards: The movie was nominated for a slew of awards and won for best motion picture, best supporting actress and best adapted screenplay.

A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar 

This writer's biography of John Nash, the brilliant mathematical genius whose mental health illness (schizophrenia) took a toll on his career for three decades, was adapted to film and released back in 2001.

The story chronicling his breakdown and his triumphs went on to win four Oscars at the Academy awards the following year.

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Oscar awards: best picture, best actress in a supporting role, best director and best screenplay.

Room by Emma Donoghue

The harrowing book-to-film adaptation written by Donoghue is narrated by five-year old Jack  whose life is limited to his experience in one room where he and his mother are forced to reside.

It’s also contains the closet where he has to hide when Old Nick comes to visit his mom. 

Many people have likened this story to the true-life case of Josef Fritzl who locked his daughter up in basement for years, raped her repeatedly and fathered seven of her children.

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In an interview with The Guardian, Emma said it wasn’t so much that her story was based on the events than that they were actually triggered by it.

Needless to say, the film adaptation went on to receive 4 Oscar nominations and a string of Golden Globe, Baftwa and Screen Actors Guild nominations too.

Oscar awards: Won for best performance by an actress in a leading role.

Precious based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire

My colleague calls this the kind of book and movie you can only read and watch once. That’s not an indicator that it’s bad, just one that says it’s worth watching, but that you’re going to need a long time to recover afterwards because the subject matter isn’t easy.

Precious tells the story of a 16-year old illiterate and abused black girl who is pregnant with her father’s child. She’s overweight and is looking for a way to make a path for herself in life. Her journey is a tough one, and one that clearly isn’t easy to tell.

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The movie adaptation went on to receive 6 nominations, out of which two awards were won.

Oscar awards: best performance by an actress in a supporting role, best adapted screenplay

Of course, the list of books-to-film Oscar winning movies are extensive, which means we couldn’t include them all.
However, we’d love to hear from you.

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What’s your favourite Oscar winning movie based on a book that you think everyone should watch and read? Share your recommendations with us.

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