“Yo man, you pumped about Anchorman 2?”
“Yeah dude, so pumped.”
“Me too, I definitely want to read the book before I go see it, though.”
“Oh for sure. Seeing the first Anchorman, the book was far better than the movie.”
This conversation most likely never occurred. Hopefully it never does. Nevertheless, a lot of movies actually are based on something — whether it is a book, magazine article, or play. Each year, the Academy Awards recognizes the best films that have been adapted from another work (interestingly enough, Anchorman 2 is an adaptation, as sequels are considered adaptations from the original film).
This year, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Lincoln, and Silver Linings Playbook were nominated for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). Three books, a short play, and a magazine article were the inspiration for this year’s crop of nominees (coincidentally, they are also all nominated for Best Picture). Take a look at all the adaptations nominated for the Oscar:
Argo — adapted from "The Great Escape" by Joshuah Bearman, Wired Apr. 2007
Joshuah Bearman's incredibly researched "The Great Escape" tells the story of how the CIA used a fake science fiction movie to rescue six Americans out of revolutionary Iran. It's a fascinating tale with drama, deception, and violence: all the makings of a great movie. Chris Terrio adapted the work for film, and had to add a lot just to fit feauture length film, but the premise of the story remains, and Argo lives up to magazine piece's thrilling plot.
Beasts of the Southern Wild — adapted from play, "Juicy and Delicious" by Lucy Alibar
While Beasts was adapted from Lucy Alibar's short play, some big changes were made in the move from stage to screen. The main character in Alibar's work was a boy. Now, Hushpuppy is a tough little girl, played beautifully by Quvenzhané Wallis. The switch seems to have worked as the audience willingly travels Hushpuppy through the Bayou and all her adventures good and bad.
Life of Pi — adapted from novel, Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Adapting the 2001 novel for screen seemed an insurmountable task. How could you film a tiger and a boy on a lifeboat together? Director Ang Lee did exactly that. The book stays very true to the book with a few minor changes, and although it didn't quite live up to the book's expectations, the visuals on screen came close enough to matching the power of the novel.
Lincoln — adapted from Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The massive book covers much more than the movie could in three hours, but Lincoln did have to get its historical information from somewhere. One review claims that reading the book before or after doesn't matter, because "you'll barely recognize [the book] in the movie's plot." The movie can be a blessing regardless, as Team of Rivals saw an uptick in sales with the release of the flick.
Silver Linings Playbook — adapted from novel, Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
There are deviations (in the book, Jennifer Lawrence's character is 37), but David O. Russell tried to stay true to Quick's novel. Even with the younger Lawrence playing a widow, she knocked the role out of the park in a romantic comedy-drama that puts "rom-coms" to shame.
Experts are saying Lincoln should be a winner, but consider the possibility that Silver Linings Playbook and Argo might sneak in for an upset. The Academy Awards are Sunday, February 24 at 7 p.m. EST.