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Reading the Oscar Nominations


As a book person, even I was surprised to realize how many of this year's Oscar-nominated movies and performances had their origins in books. Is it because all the great original script writers are writing for television now? As people are unplugging, the TV medium is having a renaissance; there are certainly better choices today than there were in the days when people just sort of bided their time to watch "Friends" and "Seinfeld" on Thursday nights.

Of course television has it's share of book-sourced material, too: there's HBO's Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black from Netflix, MTV's Shannara Chronicles, and the recent Golden Globe winner, Amazon's own Mozart in the Jungle. But there are also nearly countless great shows that were written expressly for the small screen.

This year, the big screen is a different story. And the nominees are...



The Big Short: Written by best-selling author Michael Lewis (and appearing to star nearly every man who's hot in Hollywood these days), this is not Lewis's first experience in movie production, as evidenced by Moneyball and The Blind Side.




Bridge of Spies: The book was published five years ago. It's a riveting nonfiction account of the most famous prisoner exchange during the Cold War, and it examines the lives of those involved to define this tense period in history. The book is fantastic. Apparently, the movie it as well.




Brooklyn: Brooklyn is not just everyone's favorite city within a city. It's the title of a best-selling book, too, written by the exceptional writer Colm Tóibín. When the Amazon editors picked it as a Best of the Month book in 2009, our own Daphne Durham had this to say: "Tóibín's haunted heroine glows on the page, unforgettably and lovingly rendered, and her story reflects the lives of so many others exiled from home."


Mad Max: Fury Road: This is one that was nominated for best picture (and by the way, has the Academy lightened up a little?) that didn't begin as a book. But of course there is a novelization, and there are comics



The Martian: This book actually started out as a self-published book on the Kindle platform. After many, many copies sold, The Martian is a wildly popular movie starring Matt Damon. From little acorns grow large oaks.





The Revenant: My colleague, Jon Foro, a self-described "bear enthusiast," has this to say about the movie... "The film, based on Michael Punke's 2015 novel, features Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a real-life frontiersman who spent time as a pirate's apprentice and a Pawnee prisoner-of-war before finding himself in a company of trappers on the Missouri River. On a scouting mission, he's viciously mauled by a grizzly, leaving him with wounds so grievous that he's left to die by his companions. As the title suggests, he doesn't, and the rest is a running, riding, river-fording, hell-bending, presumably thrilling pursuit of his betrayers. DiCaprio went full Mountain Man for the part, covering himself in skins and hair and icicles while enduring a punishing nine-month shoot in the frigid mountains of Canada and Argentina. It's going to be awesome. Did I mention there's a bear?"

You can see Jon's full account here.



Room: This book, which was extraordinary, reads like a movie; so it makes sense that the movie is good. Here's a little copy: "Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space." Creepy, right? It was a huge bestseller, and I'm interested to see if the movie is as creepy as the book was. I suspect it is.



Spotlight: This movie is based on disturbing findings on the Catholic Church, first launched by the staff of the Boston Globe. The devastating revelations triggered a crisis within the Church. They also won the Globe the Pulitzer and led to this movie.

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