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Seven Books that Inspired Oscar-Winning Films

By Taylor Smith 

Each year, thousands of new movies are produced and released, and only a few are nominated for Academy Awards. Many of these chosen films actually began as books, plays, and short stories. Here is a collection of seven written works that have gone on to become beloved Oscar-winning films. 

“The Godfather” by Mario Puzo 

This riveting story of an American crime family swept the country and became a New York Times bestseller shortly after its 1969 release. The film adaptation of The Godfather was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and won the award for Best Picture in 1972. 

“The Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris

Published in 1988, The Silence of the Lambs was turned into a popular horror film of the same name in 1991. The book was a New York Times best-seller, and the film was voted as 1991’s Best Picture. 

“Schindler’s List” by Thomas Keneally 

Originally published as Schindler’s Ark in 1982, the historical fiction novel won a Booker Prize. The film adaptation, Schindler’s List, was equally well-received and won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Picture. 

“Forrest Gump” by Winston Groom 

Winston Groom’s 1986 novel introduced the literary world to lovable protagonist Forrest Gump. The film adaption kept very close to the novel, and won Best Picture in 1994 with Tom Hanks as the lead. 

“The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien

The third installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was published in 1955. New Zealand film director Peter Jackson directed, wrote, and produced each of the novels as three separate films, all of which were well-received. The Return of the King was met with the most public accolades and won Best Picture in 2003. 

“No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy 

Several of American novelist Cormac McCarthy’s books have been adapted to film and television. His 2005 novel No Country for Old Men was adapted into a 2007 film by the same name. Directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, the film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2007. 

“Twelve Years a Slave” by Solomon Northup 

Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir detailed his experience of being kidnapped as a New York state-born free man and sold into the slave trade. He was put to work on several plantations in Louisiana for 12 years before being released. The film won three Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actress. 

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