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Book adaptations win at the Academy Awards

While they may not receive as much attention as the dog from The Artist, six out of nine films nominated for this year’s Best Picture at the Academy Awards were adapted from books.

Shane Smith, director of public programmes for the Toronto International Film Festival, says the high number is surprising. It’s unique this year, he says, but it’s a trend that’s moving in the right direction. Producers are always looking for an audience.

Smith believes a strong adaptation isn’t necessarily about faithfulness to the source, but says a film can bring deserved attention to the original material, such as Kaui Hart Hemmings’ debut novel The Descendants, which became a bestseller as a result of Alexander Payne’s cinematic adaptation. The book wasn’t wildly successful, but it’s turned into a wildly successful adaptation that’s done great things for the author, Smith says.

While he won’t reveal his Oscar pool predictions, Smith was impressed by Moneyball, based on Michael Lewis’s non-fiction book about Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane. He says, I’m really interested in non-fiction that’s turned into fiction film. It’s an interesting hybrid.

The books that were adapted into 2012 Best Picture nominees are:

  • The Descendants, Kaui Hart Hemmings
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
  • The Help, Kathryn Stockett
  • Moneyball, Michael Lewis
  • War Horse, Michael Morpurgo