Film Adaptations of Books Get Oscar's Nod

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This year’s Oscars nominations have a decidedly literary theme. Of the five nominees for best picture, three are film adaptations of literary works: J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy, Fellowship of the Ring (Part 1 of Tolkien’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy); In the Bedroom, by Andre Dubus; and Sylvia Nasar’s A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash. The nominations were announced February 12.

All in all, Fellowship garnered a whopping 13 Academy Awards Nominations -- only 1950’s All About Eve and 1998’s Titanic were nominated for more Oscars, with 14 each. A Beautiful Mind was nominated for eight. The other best picture nominees are Robert Altman’s Gosford Park and the musical Moulin Rouge.

Aside from best picture nominations, a scan of the Academy Awards listings shows the book theme continuing, with fiction and nonfiction alike making the grade in a number of categories. Renee Zellweger was nominated for best actress for her role as a thirty-something, single British woman in the film adaptation of Helen Fielding’s best-selling novel, Bridget Jones’s Diary; Ridley Scott got the nod for best director for his film version of journalist Mark Bowden’s Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, an account of the disastrous military operation in Mogadishu that left 18 American soldiers dead; and author Daniel Clowes’s Ghost World, a satirical story about two apathetic teenagers just out of high school, was nominated for best adapted screenplay.

Finally, even a film about an author was included in the nominations. Judi Dench received a best actress nomination for her portrayal of writer Iris Murdoch in the film Iris. Murdoch, best known for novels such as Under the Net and A Severed Head, died in 1999 from Alzheimer’s disease. Her husband, English literary critic John Bayley, wrote of her illness in Elegy for Iris.

-- David Grogan