Read it First!: The 96th Academy Awards

Elizabeth Graney, Librarian, Literature & Fiction Department,
Collage of Academy Awards nominated films adapted from books

The Academy Awards are right around the corner, and, once again, films adapted from books have snagged multiple nominations! From a star-studded musical version of a classic to a powerful biopic of one of America’s most challenging historical figures, these adaptations caught the eye, and the hearts of the critics this year. You still have time to read their literary inspirations before the big show on Sunday, March 10, 2024.

Oscar Nominated Books to Films

Book cover for Erasure
Everett, Percival

After years of publishers rejecting his novels for not being "black enough," professor Thelonious “Monk” Ellison angrily writes a novel satirizing the publishing industry’s view of the African American experience. To his horror, this new novel is a huge hit, and Monk must confront his newfound fame and success. The film adaptation of Percival Everett’s Erasure, titled American Fiction, stars Jeffrey Wright, Stirling Brown, Issa Rae and Tracee Ellis Ross.

  • Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, and Original Score

Book cover for How do you live?
How Do You Live?
Yoshino, Genzaburō

Genzaburo Yoshino’s beloved classic How Do You Live? follows the dual narrative of a young man and his uncle in 1937 Japan. Fifteen-year-old Copper is dealing with the recent death of his father and a bad fallout with his best friend. As Copper’s story unfolds, his uncle writes to him in a journal, offering advice on life’s big questions and things he has learned so far along his own life’s journey. Yoshino’s philosophical novel confronts our place in the universe and how we find meaning inside it. The animated film The Boy and the Heron is based on Yoshino’s novel and classic heron mythology.

  • Nominated for: Best Animated Feature

Book cover for The color purple
The Color Purple
Walker, Alice

Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple deals with the fate of African American women in the South in the 1930s. Told through the letters of a young African American woman named Celie, the novel follows her and the women in her life over the course of 20 years. Walker’s critically acclaimed novel looks at the hardships and abuses these women had to endure and the beauty and redemptive power of their friendships. This newest film, an adaptation of the 2005 stage musical version of this novel, stars Halle Bailey, Taraji P Henson and Danielle Brooks.

  • Nominated for: Best Supporting Actress

Book cover of Killers of the Flower Moon : The Osage murders and the birth of the FBI
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Grann, David

When oil was discovered on Osage land in the 1920s, they became some of the richest people in the United States. But their good fortune would not last. Soon, members of the Osage Nation began dying under mysterious circumstances, and the newly created FBI decided to take on the case. Killers of the Flower Moon is David Grann’s best-selling non-fiction account of the horrifying conspiracy to rob the Osage people of their wealth and their lives. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, the film adaptation was released on Apple TV+.

  • Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, Editing, Original Score, and Original Song

Book cover for Nimona
Stevenson, ND

A disgraced knight, a shapeshifter, and a dastardly scheme come together in Nimona, ND Stevenson’s Eisner Award-winning science fantasy graphic novel. When shapeshifting, Nimona teams up with Ballister Blackheart; she seeks to cause chaos and havoc. But Blackheart, though a disgraced knight, still operates under a strict code of ethics. When they uncover treachery in the heart of the Institution, it will take both Nimona’s skills for mayhem and Blackheart’s morels to make things right. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed, and Eugene Lee Yang, the animated film adaptation was released on Netflix.

  • Nominated for: Best Animated Feature

Book cover of Find a way
Find a Way
Nyad, Diana

The true story of a sixty-four-year-old swimmer who completed a fifty-three-hour long swim through shark-infested waters between Cuba and Florida, breaking the world record. Diana Nyad tells her incredible story of resilience and determination in Find a Way. The film adaptation, titled Nyad, stars Annette Benning and Jodie Foster as Diana Nyad and her best friend/trainer.

  • Nominated for: Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress

Book cover of American Prometheus : the triumph and tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
Bird, Kai

Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin’s American Prometheus is the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb. From his early life to his pivotal role in the creation of the nuclear atom bomb and his concerns over its use, American Prometheus is a deeply researched look at the man behind the Manhattan Project. Christopher Nolan’s cinematic adaptation was released under the title Oppenheimer.

  • Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound, and Original Score

Book cover of Poor things : episodes from the early life of Archibald McCandless M.D., Scottish public health offi
Poor Things
Gray, Alastair

In Poor Things, a beautiful young woman named Bella Baxter is brought back to life with her brain replaced by that of an infant. Though created to be the companion of the man who made her, Bella pursues other men and interests, thwarting his dreams. Alasdair Gray’s retelling of the classic Frankenstein examines social inequalities, relationships, and identity in Victorian Glasgow. The cinematic adaptation was directed by Yorgos Lanthimos and stars Emma Stone and Mark Ruffalo.

  • Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Costume Design, Cinematography, Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Original Score

Book cover of Robot dreams
Robot Dreams
Varon, Sara

Sara Varon’s wordless graphic novel, Robot Dreams, tells the story of a dog, a robot, and the dichotomous fragility and power of friendship. After his best friend Robot is stuck in the sand, Dog must leave him at the beach and go on with his life. But neither Dog nor Robot can forget each other and what their friendship has meant. The Spanish-French animated film adaptation premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

  • Nominated for: Best Animated Feature

Book cover of The zone of interest
The Zone of Interest
Amis, Martin

When Angelus Thomsen, a Nazi officer assigned to Auschwitz, lays eyes on Hannah Doll, the camp commandant’s wife, it is love at first sight. But their illicit flirtations will have unspeakable consequences for everyone around them. Martin Amis’ thought-provoking Zone of Interest explores the complexities of human nature and morality. The film adaptation was directed by Jonathan Glazer.

  • Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Director, Adapted Screenplay, Sound, and International Feature