Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fiction to Film: 2014

It's not to early to start thinking about the 2014 film calendar, and I love thinking about what novels will be adapted to the screen and which books I want to consider reading before the films come out in the theater.

In all reality, relative to other years 2013 was not a strong year for fiction adaptations, specifically Oscar caliber fiction to film adaptations. Perhaps 2014 will be different? Below is a collection of 2014 films based on fiction we can expect to see in movie theater's this year.


Paul Thomas Anderson directs and adapts Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon. The film about a drugged up detective looking for a former girlfriend stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Maya Rudolf, Jena Malone, and Martin Short.

London Fields by Martin Amis is adapted into a film staring Amber Heard as Nicolo Six, a clairvoyent who begins a love affair with three men knowing that one of them will be her murderer. The film also stars Johnny Depp and Jim Sturgess. It is Matthew Cullen's directorial debut.

Consistently praised director of fiction Stephen Daldry will bring Andy Mulligan's Trash to the big screen. The film stars Rooney Mara, and Martin Sheen. The book is adapted by Richard Curtis. 

Lasse Hallström directs an adaptation of Richard C. Morais' The Hundred-Foot Journey. The film stars Helen Mirren and Indian actor Om Puri. The food themed film adaptation is produced by Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Spielberg.

Rosamund Pike, Simon Pegg, Toni Collette and Christopher Plummer star in Hector and The Search For Happiness adapted from François Lelord novel. Simon Pegg plays Hector.

Todd Field directs and adapts The Creed of Violence by Boston Teran. This 1910 period piece tells the stroy of arms smuggling ring in Mexico. 

Another period piece is Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française directed by Saul Dibb a love story in the early days of the French occupation. The love story stars Michelle Williams (French villager) and Matthias Schoenaerts (German soldier).

Also staring Matthias Schoenaerts is another classic adaptation. This time Tom Hardy's Far From The Maddening Crowd which also stars Carrey Mulligan, Juno Temple, and Martin Sheen.  
Scott Hicks directs Fallen based on the book by Lauren Kate deals with a girl in a reform school and an angel who loves her. 

Jonathan Tropper's This is Where I Leave You tells the story of a non-practicing Jewish family reunited to fulfill their father's wishes after his death. The comedy stars Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Timothy Olyphant, Dax Shepard, Connie Britton and Rose Byrne.

The comedy/drama about four strangers with a bond over failed New Year's Eve suicides is told in the Nick Hornby's A Long Way Down. The four stars are Pierce Brosnon, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul, and Imogeen Poots.

Nick Hornby's adaptation of Colm Toibin's Brooklyn tells the story of Irish immigrants in New York in the 1950s. The film stars Saoirse Ronan.

In time for Valentine's Day comes Akiva Goldsmith's new film The Winter's Tale based on the book by Mark Helprin. The love story about an Irish burglar and a young girl stars Colin Farrell (Irish burglar), Jessica Brown Findlay (young girl), and features Will Smith, Jennifer Connelly, and Russel Crowe.

Middle School reading list class The Giver by Lois Lowry gets cinematic life with a film adaptation by Australian director Phillip Noyce. The film features a strong cast of Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Taylor Swift, Katie Holmes, and Alexander Skarsgård.

Charlize Theron and Chloë Grace Moretz star in an adaptation of the thriller Dark Places written by Gillian Flynn

By the same author, Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is also being adapted in a film directed by David Fincher. The cast of the film includes Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tyler Perry. 

Doug Liman directs Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, and Bill Paxton in Edge of Tomorrow. The summer action film is based on All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka.

James Franco and Kate Hudson star as a couple who find hidden cash in a dead man's apartment in the film Good People adapted from the book by Marcus Sakey.

Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper team up again, this time in North Carolina during the depression. The film is adaptation of Ron Rash's novel Serena.

Previously nominated for an Oscar for his documentary work, Amy Berg directs the feature film adaptation of Laura Lippman's Every Secret Thing. The film's strong female cast features Dakota Fanning, Diane Lane, and Elizabeth Banks.

Michael C. Hall star in the thriller Cold in July adapted from the Joe R. Landsdale novel.

Susanna White is set to direct an adaptation of the John le Carre novel, Our Kind of Traitor.

Christina Hendricks and Allison Janney are to star in Campbell Scott's film A Book of Common Prayer adapted from Joan Didion's novel.

Christina Hendrick's also stars in Measure of a Man about a bullied teen based on the book One Fat Summer by Robert Lipstye.

Nicholas Sparks' The Best of Me is being adapted and is set to star James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan.

The anticipated first installment of Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay will be released as The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part I.

Similarly, the third installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit returns with the film The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

The teen adventure romance series Divergent by Veronica Roth get's a screen adaptation directed by Neil Burger and staring Shailene Woodley.

Shailene Woodley also stars in the adaptation of John Green's The Fault in our Stars (which features Divergent cast member Ansel Elgort, as well).

The French classic Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola (originally published as Un Mariage d'Amour in 1867) is adapted in a film staring Elizabeth Olsen and Jessica Lange called In Secret.  

Another fantasy teen series Vampire Academy based on the novels by Richelle Mead will also get an early 2014 release from Mark Waters the director of Mean Girls and Freaky Friday

Another young adult series being adapted to film comes from The Maze Runner by James Dashner. The film will be the first feature film directed by Wes Ball.

On the animated front, Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow is being adapted into the animated film The Boxtrolls.

Kid's classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst is being adapted into a feature film staring Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner as Alexander's parents. 

2013 Best Picture Oscars and Fiction Adaptations

For way too many years on this blog I have been identifying the novels that are being adapted into movies the previous year.

In most years some of these novels translate to the years best picture nominees.

Yet despite all that tracking, in 2013 not a single adaptation of a novel translated to a best picture nominee (Compared to the year before when 3 of the of the 9 nominees came from novels).

Instead this year's best nominees are:
  • 5 Original works (American Hustle, Nebraska, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her)
  • 4 Based on non-fiction books (Captain Phillips, Philomena, 12 Years A SlaveThe Wolf of Wallstreet
This is a change from the overall trending of the past 10 years, although not the only year in the past 10 that fiction adaptations have been excluded.


Nominees for Best Picture from Novel from the Previous 10 Year (2003-2012 films)

• 2012  films - best picture nominees: 3 of 9 adapted from a novel (Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, Yann Martel's Life of Pi, Matthew Quick's Silver Lining Playbook)

• 2011  films - best picture nominees: 5 of 9 adapted from a novel (Kaui Hart Hemmings' The Descendants, Jonathan Safron Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Kathryn Stockett's The Help, Brian Selznick's Hugo, and Michael Murpurgo's War Horse)

• 2010 films - best picture nominees: 2 of 10 adapted from a novel (Charles Portis' True Grit; Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone)

• 2009 films best picture nominees: 2 of 10 adapted from a novel (Saphire's Push [source material for Precious]; Walter Kirn's Up in the Air)

• 2008 films best picture nominees: 2 of 5 adapted from a novel (Vikas Swarup's Q & A [source material for Slumdog Millionaire]*; Bernard Schlink's The Reader)

• 2007 film best picture nominees: 3 of 5 adapated from a novel (Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men*; Ian McEwan's Atonement; Upton Sinclaire's Oil! [source material for There Will Be Blood])

• 2006 films best picture nominees: 0 of 5 adapted from a novel

• 2005 films best picture nominees: 0 of 5 adapted from a novel

• 2004 films best picture nominees: 1 of 5 adapted from a novel (Rex Pickett's Sideways)

• 2003 films best picture nominees: 3 of 5 adapted from novels (J.R.R. Tolkein's The Return of the King*, Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander, Dennis Lehane's Mystic River)

*won the Oscar for best picture

This years percent of Oscar nominees from Novels - 0 of 9 nominees : 0%

The percent of Oscar nominees coming from Novels over the previous 10 years - 21 of 68 nominees: 30.9%

Additionally, 3 of the past 10 years saw the winner coming from a novel.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Follow-up Post: Amy Adams Takes Emma Thompson's Spot

Just a quick follow up post here.

Prior to the Oscar nominations I had predicted an "all winner's cast" for the Best Actress Oscar nominations.

Yet, when the Oscar nominations came out I quickly checked to see if my predictions were correct. And NO! Almost, but not quite. Amy Adams had been nominated. But who's place did she take. That's right...the spot of Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks).

I must admit, I was a little surprised at how cold Oscar was to Saving Mr. Banks (just one nomination total for the film, Thomas Newman's score in the original score category).

And who took her spot. Amy Adams for American Hustle, a film the Academy was very hot towards.

A red carpet regular, this will be Amy Adam's fifth nomination, but the first in the lead category (she had been nominated previously for Junebug, Doubt, The Fighter, and The Master).

Wanted to follow up on my prediction her. I still don't see Adams as the winner in this category.

The Oscar seems like Cate Blanchett's to win (Blue Jasmine), but perhaps I'm just all around under estimating Amy's chances...and perhaps they'll decide "well, since each of them already has one..."

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Wolf of F-Bomb Street

I don't plan on seeing The Wolf Of Wall Street. Primarily for all the continued reports of it's vulgarity.

For starters, nothing is appealing about a film that is regularly credited for it's extensive use of the F-word and it's derivatives (apparently used 506 times).

Imagine a film that used any other word as repeatedly? You'd think it was avent-garde dribble if a film used the word "Blue" or "Cow" in the film 506 times.

Yet, somehow this crazy word can be thrown into speech (and hence films) in so many different ways. That conversation isn't new. Yet, to me this doesn't enhance a film one iota. It doesn't make the dialogue seem more real, more gritty, or more compelling. Instead it kind of twitches my ears and makes me disappointed.

It makes me disappointed when Leonardo DiCaprio wins the Golden Globe for Best Actor - Musical or Comedy. There's nothing musical or comedic about the idea of such a vulgar performance.

I feel like most years there seems to be an appetite for one of these "push the envelope" films, if it's not by Martin Scorsese as it is this year it seems like Quentin Tarantino recently has vied for this role in award season.

I don't know why, but to me, there is something powerful about make a film appreciated by the art's community that isn't rated R. Sure, there's time when a story dictates that type of intense narrative (this year's 12 Years a Slave is that type of film), but otherwise I wish films wouldn't be dirty just for shock-and-awe's sake. To me, that seems to be the way The Wolf of Wall Street feels. So in that regard, I'm not just passing on watching it, I find myself rooting against it. Hoping it hardly makes a bleep on The Academy Award radar when nominations are announced in a few days.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Oscar Prediction: All Best Actress Nominees Are Already Winners

This predictions not too bold, but the prospect kind of interesting. This year's lead lady Oscar contenders isn't necessarily a shallow pool, but there are some definite leading ladies who's name's simply seem to sound right when it comes to Oscar. The Actress Oscar Club might not grow at all this year - in fact, I predict that the 5 Oscar nominees in the lead actress category have already won an Oscar previously.

Here's my predictions, as well as their current films and previous nomination/win record.

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • 1 win for supporting actress (The Aviator, 2004)
  • 2 nominations lead actress (Elizabeth, 1998; Elizabeth: The Golden Age, 2007)
  • 3 nominations supporting actress (Notes on a Scandal, 2006; I'm Not There, 2007)

    Sandra Bullock, Gravity
    • 1 win for lead actress (The Blindside, 2009)
    • 1 nomination for lead actress (The Blindside, 2009)

    Judi Dench, Philomena
    • 1 win for supporting actress (Shakespeare In Love, 1998)
    • 4 nominations for lead actress (Mrs Brown, 1997; Iris, 2001; Mrs. Henderson Presents, 2005; Notes on a Scandal, 2006)
    • 2 nominations for supporting actress (Shakespeare in Love, 1998; Chocolat, 2000)

    Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
    • 2 wins for lead actress (Sophie's Choice, 1982; The Iron Lady, 2012)
    • 1 win for supporting actress (Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979)
    • 14 nominations for lead actress (The French Lieutenant's Woman, 1981; Sophie's Choice, 1982; Silkwood, 1983; Out of Africa, 1985; Ironweed, 1987; Evil Angels, 1988; Postcards from the Edge, 1990; The Bridges of Madison County, 1995; One True Thing, 1998; Music of the Heart, 1999; The Devil Wears Prada, 2006; Doubt, 2008; Julie & Julia, 2009; The Iron Lady, 2011)
    • 3 nominations for supporting actress (The Deer Hunter, 1978; Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979; Adaptation, 2002)

    Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks
    • 1 win for lead actress (Howards End, 1992)
    • 3 nominations for lead actress (Howards End, 1992, The Remains of the Day, 1993; Sense and Sensibility, 1995)
    • 1 nomination for supporting actress (In The Name of the Father, 1993)
    • (Also 1 win for adapted screenplay: Sense and Sensibility, 1995)

    Wednesday, January 01, 2014

    Favorite Films From Years That End in "4"

    In celebration of the new year here's my favorite films from each of the year's that end in four.

    1934: It Happened One Night (dir: Frank Capra)
    1944: Going My Way (dir. Leo McCarey)
    1954: Rear Window (dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
    1964: Mary Poppins (dir. Robert Stevenson)
    1974: The Godfather: Part II (dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
    1984: Places in the Heart (dir. Robert Benton)
    1994: Shawshank Redemption (dir. Frank Darabont)
    2004: The Motorcycle Diaries (dir. Walter Salles)

    To see similar posts from previous years you can view favorite films from year zero (2000), one (2001), two (2002), and three (2003).

    Here's a toast to great films in 2014.