You may have missed the 90th Academy Awards ceremony earlier this month. The industry has bemoaned the fact that the television audience was down to only 26.5 million viewers. If you did miss the televised event, you surely don’t want to miss reading the books that inspired many of the winners and nominees. This year’s ceremony was a tribute, once again, to the written word as well as the visual artistic and technical merit in the American film industry. Here’s a look at some of the best books-to-movies this past year.
Thank You for Your Service, based on the book by David Finkel, is a profound look at life after war. No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as well as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, his bestselling account from the front lines of Baghdad, Finkel shadowed the men of the 2-16 Infantry Battalion as they carried out the infamous surge, a grueling fifteen-month tour that changed all of them forever. Now Finkel has followed many of those same men as they’ve returned home and struggled to reintegrate–both into their family lives and into American society at large.
Our Souls at Night, novel by Kent Haruf, is a tender account of coming to grips with lost, loneliness and old age. In the movie version, Robert Redford and Jane Fonda perfectly portray the two aging neighbors that seek refuge and comfort in each other. It’s a beautifully written, life-affirming story.
In Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. The story is centered in the Deep South right after World War II. Two young men, one black and one white, return from the war to work the land. One is haunted by his memories of combat; one has come home with the shine of a war hero. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives the story to its powerful conclusion.
One of the most anticipated books-to-movies this past year was the children’s novel Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. It’s the story of Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities, and his struggles to be accepted as just another student while enduring the taunting of his classmates. It’s a moving and uplifting tale.
Every year there are dozens of films based on books new and old. If you want to get a jump on films due to be released this year, here are a few books you’ll want to read: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madaleine L’Engle, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Annie Barrows, Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott and Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter.