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And the Oscar Goes to...Books!

Elizabeth Graney, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
giant Oscar statue being carried to an event
A large Oscar statue being carried into the Shrine Auditorium on February 25, 1995, for the Academy Awards show: Gary Leonard, LAPL Photo Collection

The Academy Awards are coming! And while there still isn't a host, and the show might be a total shambles, we're still going to tune in to see who wins. We at the library are usually partial to the book, though every once in a while Hollywood manages to catch some of the magic of the text on the screen. Here are the films adapted from books that caught the eye of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences this year. There’s still time to read a few if you hurry before the Oscar ceremony on February 24.

Oscar Nominated Works Based on Books

Avengers: Infinity War

Nominated for: Visual Effects

Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet
Clevinger, Brian

The mother of all crossovers, Avengers: Infinity War is loosely based on the Marvel Comics series The Infinity Gauntlet and The Infinity War. After being tasked by Death to kill half of all living beings in the universe, alien Thanos sets out to collect the six Infinity Gems, powerful stones with influence over various aspects of the universe.


Nominated for: Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Director, Best Picture, Film Editing, Music (Original Score) & Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime
Stallworth, Ron

Ron Stallworth, the first African American officer on the Colorado Springs Police Force, answered an ad for the Ku Klux Klan in his local paper. He hoped to be added to a mailing list and have a chance to keep an eye on the local chapter of this terrorist group. Instead, he received a phone call and an invitation to be more personally involved. He recruited his white partner to pose as him for meetings and struck up phone contact with none other than David Duke himself. Stallworth’s several months-long undercover investigations exposed Klan members in the military, prevented cross burnings, and gave the police an in-depth understanding of the workings of this secretive organization.

Black Panther

Nominated for: Best Picture, Costume Design, Music (Original Song) & Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet
Coates, Ta-Nehisi

Black Panther is the story of T’Challa, the chief of Wakanda, a small African nation. Long ago, Wakanda was hit by a stray meteorite made entirely of the rare mineral known as Vibranium, found almost nowhere else on earth. It has the ability to absorb all vibration and kinetic energy aimed at it and is famously the material that makes up Captain America’s shield. The Wakandan ruler of the time wisely realized the worth of this mineral and decided to protect his people by hiding his country from the rest of the world. Over time, Wakandan rulers have sold minuscule amounts of Vibranium and used the resulting wealth to send their brightest to study all over the world. As a result, they are a highly technologically advanced society. The comic follows T’Challa in his exploits around the world.


Nominated for: Makeup and Hairstyling

Let the Old Dreams Die
Ajvide Lindqvist, John

Tina is a preternaturally talented customs agent. Her ability to tell when someone is lying or hiding something has made her a bit of a star in the customs world. So when the man who just walked through the nothing to declare line sets off her senses, she does a thorough search. Only to find nothing. But she cannot shake the feeling that something is off about this man. Soon, she begins to feel a kinship with this mysterious stranger and does her best to uncover his secret. But what she finds will draw her entire life into question. Based on the short story of the same name by John Ajvide Lindqvist from his collection Let the Old Dreams Die, this tale is definitely not what you expect.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Nominated for: Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Leading Role, & Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger
Israel, Lee

Popular memoirist Lee Israel shocked the world when her secret life as the forger of hundreds of letters by celebrities came to light. Though she had been successful as a celebrity biographer, by the early 1990’s she was in dire straits. Utilizing her impressive skills as a researcher and her old connections to celebrities, she began a massive autograph and letter forgery business out of a phone booth in Greenwich Village. And it worked until the FBI caught on.

First Man

Nominated for: Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, & Visual Effects

First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong
Hansen, James R.

Though famous worldwide, very little has been written on the life of astronaut Neil Armstrong beside those famous first steps on the moon. But author James Hansen managed to get unprecedented access to the private papers and personal acquaintances of this notoriously reserved man. His book, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, is the only authorized biography of this American icon.

If Beale Street Could Talk

Nominated for: Actress in a Supporting Role, Music (Original Score), Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

If Beale Street Could Talk
Baldwin, James

Tish and Fonny are young and in love. Newly engaged and pregnant with their first child, they have a bright future ahead of them. But this happy future is disrupted when Fonny is falsely accused of a heinous crime and put in jail. As Tish’s pregnancy progresses, Tish and Fonny’s families work to prove him innocent and set him free.

Mary Poppins Returns

Nominated for: Costume Design, Music (Original Score), Music (Original Song), & Production Design

Mary Poppins Comes Back
Travers, P. L. (Pamela Lyndon)

Based on the many Mary Poppins stories by P.L. Travers, this film revisits the adult Banks children and the circumstances that bring the magical Mary Poppins back into their lives.

Mary Queen of Scots

Nominated for: Costume Design, & Makeup and Hairstyling

Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart
Guy, J. A. (John Alexander)

Widowed only two years into her marriage to the king of France, Mary Stuart returns home to reclaim her place as Queen of Scotland. But her younger sister, Elizabeth I, has taken over rule of Scotland and England in her place and will not willingly hand over her crown. John Guy’s non-fiction account of the life of Mary Queen of Scots sheds new light on the tumultuous life of this fascinating figure.

Ready Player One

Nominated for: Visual Effects

Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest

The Wife

Nominated for: Actress in a Leading Role

The Wife: a Novel
Wolitzer, Meg

On a flight to Helsinki to support her husband as he receives a distinguished international literary award, Joan Castleman realizes her marriage is over. Having spent 40 years nurturing his career, Joan’s desire to pursue her own writing, and her own life, becomes undeniable. As she spends the plane trip remembering their life together, the true extent of her sacrifices becomes all the more apparent.