Best Oscar Winning Books of the 21st Century

Best Oscar Winning Books of the 21st Century

As a book fan, it can sometimes feel sacrilegious to even dare whisper that in some cases, a movie adaptation might actually beat the book.

Whilst we’ve no doubt some folk will argue that novels should always remain the Gold Standard, we doff our hats to five fabulous films that brought these worthy stories to wide new audiences.

Each of these Oscar winning films started life as a book and won their award in the category of Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Social Network

BOOK: The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich

FILM: The Social Network (winner 2010)

This book and film combo chart the rise of the one and only Facebook but it’s the human stories behind the billion-dollar company (much disputed as they are!) which are the most gripping elements of this tale. Sky-high ambitions, faltering friendships, betrayals, lawsuits and grudges that by all accounts still hold today, drive this narrative with both wit and regret. It’s true what they say: you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies…

12 Years a Slave

BOOK: Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

FILM: Twelve Years a Slave (winner 2013)

The written version of the memoir Twelve Years a Slave is heavy going. Penned in 1853 and epically long, it’s no surprise that many a reader has been turned off. But the story itself is compelling in the highest order – a former slave, recounting his kidnapping as an adult, his subsequent sale and the enslavement he endured for twelve years before returning home – and one that deserved a wider reach. This film was Hollywood’s first major attempt at portraying a slave's account of his own suffering, exposing brutal truths from the slave perspective that has been too long ignored.


The Imitation Game

BOOK: Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges

FILM: The Imitation Game (winner 2014)

The Imitation Game is an adaptation of the biography of Alan Turning, who was a codebreaker during the Second World War and a pioneering computer scientist, widely held to be the father of artificial intelligence. This historical drama focuses on his role in smashing Nazi encryption as well as his unusual personal life, but it fizzes with ideas and contemporary relevance, and is as much about breaking social conventions as enemy codes..

The Big Short

BOOK: The Big Short by Michael Lewis

FILM: The Big Short (winner 2015)

Michael Lewis’ greatest strength is his ability to take complex issues that would normally only be of interest to the few and make them accessible and engaging for the everyday man and woman. The Big Short is no exception. Picked up by Hollywood and given an all-star cast, the movie dissects the 2008 financial crisis, providing forensic detail in unconventional ways (Margot Robbie explaining subprime mortgages from a bathtub, anyone!?) to create an engrossing tragi-comic thriller, and teach us a thing or two along the way.

Slumdog Millionaire

BOOK: Q & A by Vikas Swarup

FILM: Slumdog Millionaire (winner 2008)

Indian novel Q & A was the inspiration behind the stunninh Oscar winning blockbuster, Slumdog Millionaire. It tells the rags-to-riches tale of an impoverished young man who becomes the biggest quiz show winner in India’s history, only to find himself in jail when he is accused of cheating. The film is colourful, fabulously musical, heart-warming and hugely entertaining, and led to the book being translated into 43 languages, which it thoroughly deserves.

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