The Books that Spawned the 2011 Oscar Nominees

Before they were making headlines as 2011 Oscar nominees, many of the stories first came to life in the written form as memoirs, novels, biographies, and correspondences.  As hard as a searched for it, I simply could not find a complete and accurate list of these titles so I went about compiling my own.  Please let me know if you think I’ve missed anything or if I added something to the list in error.

In most cases the book is almost always better that the movie, but when the movie in question is nominated for an Oscar all bets are off.  I haven’t actually read any of the books on the list below, though I have seen several of the adaptations.  If you’ve read one of these titles please take the time to let me know what you thought, and if you’ve also viewed its film adaptation please let me know which you thought was better and why.

All of the descriptions below are taken from each book’s entry on the GoodReads website unless otherwise noted.

Between_A_Rock_And_A_Hard_PlaceBetween a Rock and a Hard Place
By Aron Rolston
2004 / 354 Pages
Adapted as 127 Hours
Nominated For:
Actor in a leading role (James Franco)
Film Editing (Jon Harris)
Music (Original Score) (A.R. Rahman)
Music (Original Song) (If I Rise/Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong)
Best Picture (Christian Colson, Danny Boyle and John Smithson, Producers)
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (Screenplay by Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy)

One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told — Aron Ralston’s searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.



Alices_Adventures_In_Wonderland & Through_The_Looking_GlassAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass
Written by Lewis Carroll
1865 / 239 Pages
Adapted as Alice in Wonderland
Nominated For:
Art Direction (Production Design: Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara)
Costume Design (Colleen Atwood)

Weary of her storybook, one “without pictures or conversations,” the young and imaginative Alice follows a hasty hare underground — to come face-to-face with some of the strangest adventures and most fantastic characters in all of literature. The Ugly Duchess, the Mad Hatter, the weeping Mock Turtle, the diabolical Queen of Hearts, the Cheshire Cat — each more eccentric than the last — could only have come from that master of sublime nonsense, Lewis Carroll.




Harry_Potter_And_The_Deathly_HallowsHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Written by J.K. Rowling
2007 / 759 Pages
Adapted as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
Nominated For:
Art Direction (Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan)
Visual Effects (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi)

A spectacular finish to a phenomenal series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a bittersweet read for fans. The journey is hard, filled with events both tragic and triumphant, the battlefield littered with the bodies of the dearest and despised, but the final chapter is as brilliant and blinding as a phoenix’s flame, and fans and skeptics alike will emerge from the confines of the story with full but heavy hearts, giddy and grateful for the experience.




How_To_Train_Your_DragonHow to Train Your Dragon
Written by Cressida Cowell
2000 / 214 Pages
Adapted as How to Train Your Dragon
Nominated For:
Animated Feature Film (Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois)
Music (Original Score) (John Powell)

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as “the Dragon Whisperer” … but it wasn’t always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventure as the small boy finds a better way to train his dragon and becomes a hero!




Written by Sebastian Junger
2010 / 304 Pages
Adapted as Restrepo
Nominated For:
Documentary (Feature) (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)

In his breakout bestseller, The Perfect Storm, Sebastian Junger created “a wild ride that brilliantly captures the awesome power of the raging sea and the often futile attempts of humans to withstand it” (Los Angeles Times Book Review). Now, Junger turns his brilliant and empathetic eye to the reality of combat–the fear, the honor, and the trust among men in an extreme situation whose survival depends on their absolute commitment to one another. His on-the-ground account follows a single platoon through a 15-month tour of duty in the most dangerous outpost in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. Through the experiences of these young men at war, he shows what it means to fight, to serve, and to face down mortal danger on a daily basis.




The_Accidental_BillionairesThe Accidental Billionaires
Written by Ben Mezrich
2009 / 272 Pages
Adapted as The Social Network
Nominated For:
Actor in a leading role (Jesse Eisenberg)
Cinematography (Jeff Cronenweth)
Directing (David Fincher)
Film Editing (Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter)
Music (Original Score) (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca and Ceán Chaffin, Producers)
Sound Mixing (Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten)
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin)

The high-energy tale of how two socially awkward Ivy Leaguers, trying to increase their chances with the opposite sex, ended up creating Facebook.




Written by Brothers Grimm
1812 (as part of the Children’s and Household Tales collection) / 40 Pages
Adapted as Tangled
Nominated For:
Music (Original Song) (I See the Light/Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater)

Children’s and Household Tales (German: Kinder- und Hausmärchen) is a collection of German origin fairy tales first published in 1812 by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the Brothers Grimm. The collection is commonly known today as Grimms’ Fairy Tales (German: Grimms Märchen). (from Amazon)




The_TempestThe Tempest
Written by William Shakespeare
1609 / 272 Pages
Adapted as The Tempest
Nominated For:
Costume Design (Sandy Powell)

The Tempest presents some of Shakespeare’s most insightful meditations on the cycle of life—ending and beginning, death and regeneration, bondage and freedom. (from Amazon)




Prince_Of_ThievesPrince of Thieves
Written by Chuck Hogan
2004 / 384 Pages
Nominated For:
Actor in a supporting role (Jeremy Renner)

The men wear masks. Their guns are drawn on the bank manager. She nervously recites the alarm code, and the tumblers within the huge vault fall. The timing and execution are brilliant. It could be the perfect heist. But as the huge sum of cash is stolen, so too is one man’s heart — and that man is the Prince of Thieves…




True_GritTrue Grit
Written by Charles Portis
1968 / 224 Pages
Adapted as True Grit
Nominated For:
Actor in a leading role (Jeff Bridges)
Actress in a supporting role (Hailee Steinfeld)
Art Direction (Production Design: Jess Gonchor; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh)
Cinematography (Roger Deakins)
Costume Design (Mary Zophres)
Directing (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen)
Best Picture (Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, Producers)
Sound Editing (Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey)
Sound Mixing (Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland)
Screenplay (Adapted Screenplay) (Written for the screen by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen)

Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross’ father was shot and killed. Told through her eyes, True Grit is the story of how she and hard-drinking Marshal Rooster Cogburn set out to find and prosecute his murderer.




Winters_BoneWinter’s Bone
Written by Daniel Woodrell
2006 / 208 Pages
Adapted as Winter’s Bone
Nominated For:
Actor in a supporting role (John Hawkes)
Actress in a leading role (Jennifer Lawrence)
Best Picture (Anne Rosellini and Alix Madigan-Yorkin, Producers)
Screenplay (Adapted Screenplay) (Adapted for the screen by Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini)

Ree Dolly’s father has skipped bail on charges that he ran a crystal meth lab, and the Dollys will lose their house if he doesn’t show up for his next court date. With two young brothers depending on her, 16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost.