From Book to Screen: The 2013 Oscar Nominees


Admittedly we’ve gone a bit Oscar crazy over the past few weeks.  Traditionally this becomes the one time of year in which we shift our primary focus away from books and start to talk about those fifty or so films that are deemed to be the best of the previous year.

Every year we set out on a search to find a complete and accurate list of every book-based Oscar nominee, and every year we end up disappointed.  The accounts we find tend to be incomplete,  so this year, we decided to take the reins ourselves!

We did our homework, and below you’ll find the complete list of the 2013 Oscar-nominated films that are based on books.  We’ve also included a brief description of each original text.  Enjoy!

Anna_KareninaAnna_KareninaAnna Karenina
Nominated For:
Cinematography (Seamus McGarvey)
Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran)
Music-Original Score (Dario Marianelli)
Production Design (Sarah Greenwood (Production Design); Katie Spencer (Set Decoration))

Based on the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Described by William Faulkner as the best novel ever written and by Fyodor Dostoevsky as “flawless,” Anna Karenina tells of the doomed love affair between the sensuous and rebellious Anna and the dashing officer, Count Vronsky. Tragedy unfolds as Anna rejects her passionless marriage and must endure the hypocrisies of society. Set against a vast and richly textured canvas of nineteenth-century Russia, the novel’s seven major characters create a dynamic imbalance, playing out the contrasts of city and country life and all the variations on love and family happiness. (From the hardcover edition)

Nominated For:
Best Picture (Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, Producers)
Actor in a Supporting Role (Alan Arkin)
Film Editing (William Goldenberg)
Music-Original Score (Alexandre Desplat)
Sound Editing (Erik Aadahl and Ethan Van der Ryn)
Sound Mixing (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Jose Antonio Garcia)
Writing-Adapted Screenplay (Written by Chris Terrio)

Based on the memoir The Master of Disguise by Antonio J. Mendez

In the first ever memoir by a top-level operative to be authorized by the CIA, Antonio J. Mendez reveals the cunning tricks and insights that helped save hundreds from deadly situations. Adept at creating new identities for anyone, anywhere, Mendez was involved in operations all over the world, from “Wild West” adventures in East Asia to Cold War intrigue in Moscow. In 1980, he orchestrated the escape of six Americans from a hostage situation in revolutionary Tehran, Iran. This extraordinary operation inspired the movie Argo, directed by and starring Ben Affleck. The Master of Disguise gives us a privileged look at what really happens at the highest levels of international espionage: in the field, undercover, and behind closed doors. (From the hardcover edition)

Nominated For:
Makeup and Hairstyling (Howard Berger, Peter Montagna and Martin Samuel)

Based on the book Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho by Stephen Rebello

A gripping behind-the-scenes look inside the classic suspense shocker—and the creative genius who revolutionized filmmaking First released in June 1960, Psycho altered the landscape of horror films forever. But just as compelling as the movie itself is the story behind it.

Stephen Rebello brings to life the creation of one of Hollywood’s most iconic films, from the story of Wisconsin murderer Ed Gein, the real-life inspiration for the character of Norman Bates, to Hitchcock’s groundbreaking achievements in cinematography, sound, editing, and promotion. Packed with captivating insights from the film’s stars, writers, and crewmembers, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho is a riveting and definitive history of a signature Hitchcock cinematic masterpiece. (From the hardcover edition)

The_HobbitThe_HobbitThe Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Nominated For:

Makeup and Hairstyling (Peter Swords King, Rick Findlater and Tami Lane)
Production Design (Dan Hennah (Production Design); Ra Vincent and Simon Bright (Set Decoration))
Visual Effects (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White)

Based on the novel The Hobbit: There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic prelude to his Lord of the Rings trilogy

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

Written for J.R.R. Tolkien’s own children, The Hobbit has sold many millions of copies worldwide and established itself as a modern classic. (From the hardcover edition)

Les_MiseraablesLes MisérablesLes Misérables
Nominated For:

Best Picture (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, Producers)
Actor in a Leading Role (Hugh Jackman)
Actress in a Supporting Role (Anne Hathaway)
Costume Design (Paco Delgado)
Makeup and Hairstyling (Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell)
Music-Original Song (“Suddenly” Music by Claude-Michel Schönberg; Lyric by Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil)
Production Design (Eve Stewart (Production Design); Anna Lynch-Robinson (Set Decoration))
Sound Mixing (Andy Nelson, Mark Paterson and Simon Hayes)

Based on the novel Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Les Miserables is the great epic masterpiece of the mid-nineteenth century. Begun in 1845, the year Louis Philippe conferred a peerage and a lifetime seat in the Senate upon Victor Hugo, it was completed when the author was living in exile in the Channel Islands. Les Miserables is a product as well as a document of the political, social, and religious upheaval that followed the Napoleonic Wars and Europe’s great democratic revolutions. The story is centered on Jean Valjean, a peasant who enters the novel a hardened criminal after nineteen years spent in prison for stealing a loaf of bread for the starving children of his sister. The path of Valjean’s last twenty-five years, leading from the French provinces to the battlefield of Waterloo and the ramparts of Paris during the Uprising of 1832, introduces us to secret societies of revolutionaries and the vast world of the French lower classes. Jean Valjean’s flight from the police agent Javert–the prototype of over a hundred years of fictional detectives–culminates in one of the most famous scenes in all literature, the chase through the sewers of Paris. Les Miserables sold out its large first printing in twenty-four hours and has remained enormously popular. This edition is the classic English translation of Hugo’s friend Charles Wilbour, which appeared the same year the novel was published in France. (From the hardcover edition)

Life_Of_PiLife_Of_PiLife of Pi
Nominated For:

Best Picture (Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, Producers)
Cinematography (Claudio Miranda)
Directing (Ang Lee)
Film Editing (Tim Squyres)
Music-Original Score (Mychael Danna)
Music-Original Song (“Pi’s Lullaby” Music by Mychael Danna; Lyric by Bombay Jayashri)
Production Design (David Gropman (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration))
Sound Editing (Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton)
Sound Mixing (Ron Bartlett, D.M. Hemphill and Drew Kunin)
Visual Effects (Bill Westenhofer, Guillaume Rocheron, Erik-Jan De Boer and Donald R. Elliott)
Writing-Adapted Screenplay (Written by David Magee)

Based on the novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional—but is it more true? (From the hardcover edition)

Nominated For:

Best Picture (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers)
Actor in a Leading Role (Daniel Day-Lewis)
Actor in a Supporting Role (Tommy Lee Jones)
Actress in a Supporting Role (Sally Field)
Cinematography (Janusz Kaminski)
Costume Design (Joanna Johnston)
Directing (Steven Spielberg)
Film Editing (Michael Kahn)
Music-Original Score (John Williams)
Production Design (Rick Carter (Production Design); Jim Erickson (Set Decoration))
Sound Mixing (Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Ronald Judkins)
Writing-Adapted Screenplay (Written by Tony Kushner)

Based on the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns

In this monumental multiple biography, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin studies Abraham Lincoln’s mastery of men. She shows how he saved Civil War-torn America by appointing his fiercest rivals to key cabinet positions, making them help achieve his vision for peace. As well as a thrilling piece of narrative history, it’s an inspiring study of one of the greatest leaders the world has ever seen. A book to bury yourself in. (From the hardcover edition)

Mirror_MirrorHousehold_TalesMirror, Mirror
Nominated For:

Costume Design (Eiko Ishioka)

Based on the tale Little Snow White from the collection Household Tales by The Brothers Grimm

The primal beating heart at the center of much of the Western literary canon can be found in the folk stories, myths, and fairy tales collected by the amateur folklorists Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. Surprisingly graphic in comparison to their sanitized twentieth-century retellings, these intense tales are not for the faint at heart. A must-read for any fan of folklore. (From the hardcover edition)

The_Pirates_Band_Of_MisfitsThe_Pirates_In_An_Adventure_With_ScientistsThe Pirates! Band of Misfits
Nominated For:
Animated Feature Film (Peter Lord)

Based on the novel The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe

1837: the Victorian Era approaches and the golden age of piracy draws to a close. Worried that his pirates are growing bored of roaring, running people through, and sitting about on tropical beaches, the Pirate Captain decides it’s time they had an adventure. A chance encounter with the young Charles Darwin leads the Captain and his crew to the fog-filled streets of London, a grisly murder and a diabolical Bishop … (From the hardcover edition)

A_Royal_AffairPrinsesse_Af_BlodetA Royal Affair
Nominated For:
Foreign Language Film (Denmark)

Based on the novel Prinsesse af blodet by Bodil Steensen-Leth

Caroline Mathilde, sister of the English King George III, is the 15-year-old sent to Denmark to be with the two-year old King Christian VII. In many ways, the absolute monarch and his queen kindred spirits – they are two great children, dressed in royal pomp and circumstance. King’s wild excesses and increasing mental illness prevents their relationship from developing, and she falls in love with the king’s physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee.

The story is well known. But who was the young queen, this English child who was so cruel a fate? Bodil Steensen-Leth’s new novel begins in London, where Caroline Mathilde goodbye to his family, and ends with her ​​death at the castle in Celle, which she had been exiled. In the few years she has lived in Denmark – in a hilarious, lewd and scheming court – she develops from a young, innocent girl to a mature, determined woman who fiercely fighting for the right to his children and the right to love it man she has chosen. (From the hardcover edition)

Silver_Linings_PlaybookThe_Silver_Linings_PlaybookSilver Linings Playbook
Nominated For:
Best Picture (Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, Producers)
Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper)
Actress in a Leading Role (Jennifer Lawrence)
Actor in a Supporting Role (Robert De Niro)
Actress in a Supporting Role (Jacki Weaver)
Directing (David O. Russell)
Film Editing (Jay Cassidy and Crispin Struthers)
Sound Editing (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers)
Writing-Adapted Screenplay (Written by David O. Russell)

Based on the novel The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

Pat Peoples has a theory. The theory is this: his life is actually a movie produced by God. And Pat’s God-given mission in life is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure the movie is a romcom, complete with happy ending — which, for Pat, means the return of his estranged wife Nikki, from whom he’s currently having some ‘apart time.’ It might not come as any surprise to learn that Pat has spent several years in a mental-health facility.

When Pat leaves hospital and goes to live with his parents, however, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki; his old friends now have families; his beloved football team keep losing; his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. And he’s being haunted by Kenny G.

There is a silver lining, however, in the form of tragically widowed, physically fit, and clinically depressed Tiffany, who offers to act as a go-between for Pat and his wife. If only Pat will give up watching football, agree to perform in this year’s Dance Away Depression competition, and promise not to tell anyone about their ‘contract’. Easy, really . . . (From the hardcover edition)

Household_TalesSnow_White_And_The_HuntsmenSnow White And The Huntsman
Nominated For:

Costume Design (Colleen Atwood)
Visual Effects (Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, Philip Brennan, Neil Corbould and Michael Dawson)

Based on the tale Little Snow White from the collection Household Tales by The Brothers Grimm

The primal beating heart at the center of much of the Western literary canon can be found in the folk stories, myths, and fairy tales collected by the amateur folklorists Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. Surprisingly graphic in comparison to their sanitized twentieth-century retellings, these intense tales are not for the faint at heart. A must-read for any fan of folklore. (From the hardcover edition)

Looking for more Oscars coverage? Click here to access and download our complete guide to all of this year’s nominated titles and browse links to each of our reviews.

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.

  • Jackie Hirst

    I am loving your Oscars crap!

    • Typographical Era

      You’re enjoying it, or it’s crap??