It’s time again for Books: Read the Movie. With the 87th Academy Awards coming up this Sunday, February 22, we have a special Oscars edition. There are so many Best Picture winners based on books, which makes it is very difficult to narrow them down, but here are my personal top five Best Picture winners based on books.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
You would think Alfred Hitchcock would have a mantle full of Oscars, but sadly this is just not the case. Hitchcock’s Rebecca was a list of many firsts for him. This was his first film after leaving England for Hollywood, his only film to win the Best Picture Oscar, and his first film adapted from another source. This film was adapted from Rebecca, the outstanding novel by Daphne du Maurier. A very haunting film that still plays well to this day, this is Hitchcock at his best.
Ben Hur by Lew Wallace
You can certainly make a case for this being one of the greatest films of all time, being tied with the most Oscar wins at 11. (The other two films with 11 wins being Titanic and Lord of the Rings: Return of the King). This was also the film that won Charlton Heston his only Oscar, in which he took home the Best Actor award. This film is just shy of 4 hours long, but every minute of the chariot race makes it one of the most memorable scenes in movie history.
The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp (filmed as The Sound of Music)
Based on the book by Maria Augusta von Trapp, this is the most memorable musical of all time. Who can forget Julie Andrews with her arms held out, twirling on the mountaintop? Winner of 5 Academy Awards – don’t be confused, none of the awards went to Julie Andrews, but she later won for another singing role, Mary Poppins – this true story of the Von Trapp children is definitely a classic.
Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally (filmed as Schindler’s List)
This is the film that won Steven Spielberg his first Oscar, and deservedly so. Ralph Fiennes also gave the performance of a lifetime and is one of the biggest snubs of all time. The Academy did not give him the Best Supporting Actor Award, instead giving it to Tommy Lee Jones for The Fugitive. To me, this film may have the most powerful movie ending of all time. But, no spoilers here! You need to see this film at least once in your life.
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
A great book that has been turned into an incredible movie, how can we forget the most–popular crime family in movie history, the Corleones? You just can’t go wrong with Marlon Brando (Best Actor Oscar), Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall! Make yourself a plate of pasta, grab a bottle of Chianti and enjoy…this is the best movie of all time!
There are so many more great films adapted from literature, some honorable mentions are Forrest Gump, In the Heat of the Night and The French Connection. What are your Oscar-winning favorites which are based on books?
Jim is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate.