As anyone who’s seen a beloved book butchered on the big screen can attest, film adaptations are a dangerous game. Which is why it’s such a relief to see a story brought to life with respect for the source material, accompanied by all the magic and artistry of film. With the 88th Academy Awards taking place this weekend, we’re celebrating the books—funny and tragic, fiction and non— that inspired the Oscar-nominated films of 2015.
Fans of the film’s restrained, contemplative beauty will find the same measured introspection in Colm Tóibín’s much-beloved novel chronicling an Irish woman’s immigration in the 1950s to—you guessed it—Brooklyn.
An imaginative and emotionally wrenching tale of a mother and son kept in captivity, Room’s publication in 2010 was immediately followed by its inclusion in several prominent “best of” lists. With four Oscars nominations, the film has been following in the novel’s critically-acclaimed footsteps.
Patricia Highsmith’s 1952 novel, originally titled The Price of Salt, was controversial not just for chronicling a lesbian romance, but for allowing the characters a happy ending. Cate Blanchett’s turn as the film’s title character has been especially celebrated for bringing Carol’s precarious glamour to life.
Walter Isaacson’s definitive biography of Steve Jobs—the only one authorized by the man himself, and based on many long interviews—has been a perennial bestseller and critical favorite since its publication shortly after Jobs’ death. The film has similarly respected names behind its production, with a script from Aaron Sorkin and direction from Danny Boyle.
The Big Short
Simultaneously funny and infuriating, The Big Short examines the few eccentrics who were willing to bet against the market, and therefore profited from the 2008 financial crisis. The film, which follows in the book’s entertaining-yet-informative style, is nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The Danish Girl
This fictionalized account of the life of Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery, is written with compassion and nuance. Those qualities transferred well to the movie, with particular praise directed at the film’s beautiful costumes and cinematography.
In Another Country/45 Years
Based on David Constantine’s acclaimed short story “In Another Country,” 45 Years is a closely read investigation of a long and happy marriage that is forced to confront a tragedy from the past that might threaten everything.
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