Ah, Oscars night. The smell of hot lights, the fear of wardrobe malfunction. The red carpet, the cameras, the glamour! Will the women wear black this year in support of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns? Or will they break ranks a la Frances Dormand at the BAFTAs?
But that’s the politics. What about the films? Since the Oscars began in 1928, sixty Best Picture winners began as books. Here are my Top Ten, in chronological order.
Gone with the Wind (1939).
The American Civil War tome by Margaret Mitchell inspired this eight-Oscar juggernaut – although in the book, Rhett Butler doesn’t say ‘Frankly’. Film-making at its most epic.
The Godfather (1972).
Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel nabbed three Awards. Politics intruded when Marlon Brando, who won Best Actor, sent Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather to turn down the award on his behalf, to raise awareness of the poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975).
Ken Kesey’s novel was only the second film to win all five major Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Screenplay); a feat not repeated until The Silence of the Lambs in 1991. (Another film based on a book. Fancy that!)
Shakespeare In Love (1998)
Not based on a book, but a play, and loosely at that. Baz Luhrman’s version of Romeo and Juliet didn’t win any Oscars, but this bagged seven. Harvey Weinstein’s fingers were all over the campaign, his underhand marketing methods allegedly pushing Saving Private Ryan off the top spot and changing the well-mannered world of film promotion forever. What with this and The Godfather, it seems politics can’t be so easily disentangled from films after all.
So, which do you remember? Which do you wish you could forget? What would be your top 10 Oscar films based on books? Let us know on our social channels!