Reading the 2019 Awards Season: Oscars Edition

By NYPL Staff
January 22, 2019

The nominees for the 2019 Academy Awards have been announced. While the films are being celebrated, we couldn't help but notice something: books played major roles in many of the contenders for the 91st Oscars. Curious about the literary roots of some of Hollywood's buzzy films? We've compiled a list of recommended reading to put a bookish spin on your awards show viewing party.

(Please note that the films are presented in alphabetical order.)
 

Avengers: Infinity War / Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Inspired by Avengers and Spider-Man comics
The plots of these two films are based on various characters and stories found in the Marvel universe. We have book suggestions for every level of Avengers fan: where to start, the classics, the best of the newest stories, character-specific recommendations, and much more.

Nominated for Visual Effects (Avengers) and Animated Feature (Spider-Man)
 

BlacKkKlansman

Based on Black Klansman: Race, Hate, and the Undercover Investigation of a Lifetime by Ron Stallworth
In this memoir, a decorated African-American law enforcement veteran traces his remarkable undercover infiltration of the KKK and how his white partner and he posed as one person, rose in the ranks and sabotaged Klan activities before the investigation's tragic end.

Nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, and Original Score
 

Black Panther

Inspired by Black Panther comics
While there is no single comic issue that the film Black Panther is based on, the character has a devoted following and multiple comic book issues dedicated to him. In our Black Panther Primer, you'll find book selections for every kind of Black Panther fan, from the movie-goers who haven't yet read the comics to the long-time completists.

Nominated for Best Picture, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Original Score, Original Song, and Costume Design
 

 

Border

Based on a short story from Let the Old Dreams Die by John Ajvide Lindqvist
A classic short story collection from the writer called Sweden's Stephen King. Every story meets the very high standard of excellence and fright factor that Lindqvist fans have come to expect. Totally transcending genre writing, these are world class stories from possibly the most impressive horror writer writing today.

Nominated for Makeup and Hair
 

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Based on Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Memoirs of a Literary Forger by Lee Israel
A candid memoir describes how a down-on-her-luck writer conceived of and successfully executed for nearly two years a remarkable forgery caper in which she used her talent as a researcher and celebrity biographer to forge more than three hundred letters by such literary notables as Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, Lillian Hellman, Noel Coward, and others.

Nominated for Lead Actress, Supporting Actor, and Adapted Screenplay
 

Christopher Robin

Inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
Since 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends—Piglet, Owl, Tigger, and the ever doleful Eeyore—have endured as the unforgettable creations of A.A. Milne, who wrote this book for his son, Christopher Robin, and Ernest H. Shepard, who lovingly gave Pooh and his companions shape. 

P.S.: At the Library, we love Winnie-the-Pooh and even have the real-life Pooh and friends on display in the Children's Center at our 42nd Street location. 

Nominated for Visual Effects
 

First Man

Based on First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen
When Apollo 11 touched down on the Moon’s surface in 1969, the first man on the Moon became a legend. In First Man, author James R. Hansen explores the life of Neil Armstrong. Based on over fifty hours of interviews with the intensely private Armstrong, who also gave Hansen exclusive access to private documents and family sources, this “magnificent panorama of the second half of the American twentieth century” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) is an unparalleled biography of an American icon.

Nominated for Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, and Visual Effects
 

Green Book

Inspired by The Negro Motorist Green Book
This film isn't based on a single book, but rather was inspired by Victor Greene's The Negro Motorist Green Book, which had new editions published annually from 1936–67. The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture's collections include editions of the original Green Books, and many of them have been digitized.

Nominated for Best Picture, Lead Actor, Supporting Actor, Original Screenplay, and Film Editing
 

If Beale Street Could Talk

Based on If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
Told through the eyes of Tish, a nineteen-year-old girl, in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin’s story mixes the sweet and the sad. Tish and Fonny have pledged to get married, but Fonny is falsely accused of a terrible crime and imprisoned. Their families set out to clear his name, and as they face an uncertain future, the young lovers experience a kaleidoscope of emotions–affection, despair, and hope. In a love story that evokes the blues, where passion and sadness are inevitably intertwined, Baldwin has created two characters so alive and profoundly realized that they are unforgettably ingrained in the American psyche.

Nominated for Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, 

Mary Poppins Returns

Inspired by Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers
From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed. It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? 

P.S.: To celebrate the film, star Emily Blunt discovered pieces of Poppins history in our collections with librarian Meredith Mann—including the famous parrot umbrella.

Nominated for Production Design, Original Score, Original Song, and Costume Design
 

Mary Queen of Scots

Based on Mary Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuartby John Guy
Guy turns to the original documents, rather than relying on the familiar printed collections or edited abstracts that are often compiled to perpetuate a particular legend of Stuart (1842-87). He portrays her as a whole women whose choices added up and whose decisions made sense, a shrewd and charismatic young ruler who relished power and managed to hold an unstable country together for a time.

Nominated for Makeup and Hair and Costume Design
 

Ready Player One

Based on Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Immersed in a mid-21st-century virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty and disease, Wade Watts joins a violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's wealthy creator, who has promised that the winner will be his heir.

Nominated for Visual Effects
 

The Wife

Based on The Wife by Meg Wolitzer
On the eve of her husband's receipt of a prestigious literary award, Joan Castleman, who has put her own writing ambitions on hold to support her husband, evaluates her choices and decides to end the marriage.

Nominated for Lead Actress
 

Bonus: A Quiet Place

This thriller doesn't have a book that it's based on, we do have a list of recommendations with books that are filled with edge-of-your-seat suspense that fans of the movie will love.

Nominated for Sound Editing

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Book descriptions taken from the NYPL catalog.

Have trouble reading standard print? Many of these titles are available in formats for patrons with print disabilities.

Staff picks are chosen by NYPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We'd love to hear your ideas too, so leave a comment and tell us what you’d recommend. And check out our Staff Picks browse tool for more recommendations