Monday, May 14, 2007

Great Book = Best Picture?

Does a great fiction novel, well adapted and directed mean it has a good chance of a best picture nod? Sure, acting nods, writing nods, and so forth may come it's way but recent trends suggest great books do not make best pictures.

Some recent Academy Award nominees have come from adapted sources including plays (Finding Neverland, Chicago), short stories (Proulx's Brokeback Mountain, and Toole's Million Dollar Baby), and non-fiction books (Letters from Iwo Jima, Capote). But recent feature length films from novels...most of those haven't been making the cut.

Past 10 Years Stats
  • 2006 best picture nominees: 0 of 5 adapted from a novel.
  • 2005 best picture nominees: 0 of 5 adapted from a novel.
  • 2004 best picture nominees: 1 of 5 adapted from a novel (Rex Pickett's Sideways)
  • 2003 best picture nominees: 4 of 5 adapted from novels (Tolkein's Return of the King*, novels by Patrick O'Brian became Master and Commander, Lehane's Mystic River, & Hillenbrand's Seabiscut)
  • 2002 best picture nominees: 2 of 5 adapted from novels (Tolkein's Two Towers, Cunningham's The Hours)
  • 2001 best picture nominees: 3 of 5 adapted from novels (Nassar's A Beautiful Mind*, Dubus' In the Bedroom, Tolkein's Fellowship of the Rings)
  • 2000 best picture nominees: 2 of 5 adapted from novels (Harris' Chocolat, Wang Du Lu's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon)
  • 1999 best picture nominees: 2 of 5 (Irving's Cider House Rules, Stephen King's Green Mile)
  • 1998 best picture nominees: 1 of 5 (James Jones' Thin Red Line)
  • 1997 best picture nominees: 1 of 5 (James Ellroy's L.A. Confidential)

16/50 best picture nominations adapted from novels = 32%
2/10 best picture winners adapted from novels = 20%

It's obvious that novel adaptations do get a chance at the big prize, and have a chance for the win, but it's interesting to me that in the past couple years so few novel adaptations have made the short list.

At the same time many early predictions point to great success for various novel adaptations due out this year...could any of these be best picture nominees or are we just looking at some of the potential best adapted screenplay nods?

Novel Adaptations for 2007
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Darrell said...

Adaptations are a crap shoot with regard to quality, even more so than regarding awards. I've just recently finished reading The Children Of Men by P.D. James, a book I enjoyed mostly for it's heavy Christian allegory and symbolism... and after I turned the last page I went to YouTube and rewatched the trailer for the recent film. It appears that the movie is based only EXTREMELY loosely on the novel. This usually makes me crazy. Why buy the rights to produce a story and then basically invent a new one instead?

My wife is currently reading The Namesake, and I suppose we'll check out the film if she enjoys the book ... and if a subsequent review of the trailer for the movie doesn't kill all interest in the movie.

Jordan M. Poss said...

I'm looking forward to seeing what the Coen brothers will do with No Country for Old Men...

12345 said...

Of all the novel adaptations coming out this year I am especially looking forward to:

Atonement - I loved Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice and James McAvoy, of my favorite new actors, is in this one as well.

Evening - With that impressive cast and Michael Cunningham's input, this one is unmissable.

The Golden Compass - I am a huge Narnia fan so it looks like this one will be right up my alley. My best friend told me that the book is great. I also love the cast: Nic Kidman, Daniel Craig, and Eva Green.