The Oscar Connection : Books that became Oscar-winning movies

March 3, 2014

Since the beginning of the film industry, production houses and directors have searched for that perfect script which would earn them the glory and riches they desire. But no place can offer a better script than our good old library filled with so many stories and so many lives. With Oscar season upon us, let’s have a look at a few books that were adapted as movies and went on to become worldwide hits and fascination.

Ben hur Ben Hur

Genre: Historical novel
Published: 1880
Author: Lew Wallace
Movie: 1959
Number of Oscars: 11

Originally titled, ‘ Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ‘, this novel tells the story of a Jewish man called Judah Ben-Hur’s life that changes from being a prince to becoming a slave due to a wrongful conviction and then a soldier. Seeking revenge to punish his wrong doers, he meets Jesus on his way to be crucified and that experience changes his life. The author has been appreciated for his efforts put into getting the historical facts right. This book, one of the bestselling novels of 19th Century, was made into a movie much later 1959 starring Charlton Heston and was an instant hit and made almost 10 times its budget at the box office.

Lord of the ringsThe Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Genre: Fantasy
Published: 1955
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Movie: 2003
Number of Oscars: 11

The third novel in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Tings trilogy, this book tells the story of Sam and Frodo’ s journey to the Mount Doom where they have to destroy the ring, while Aragorn and Gandalf stall the forces of the Dark Lord. The world’s second best-selling novel of all time(yes, over 150 million copies sold till date!), the author, a professor at the University of Oxford, wrote the whole series over a span of 12 years! This trilogy was made into a movie by Peter Jackson and the production house New line cinemas spent a whooping $280 million on this project.


Gone With The Wind Gone with the Wind

Genre: Historical/Coming-of-age
Published: 1936
Author: Margaret Mitchell
Movie: 139
Number of Oscars: 10

This Pulitzer prize winning novel tells the story takes place during the American Civil War period and centers the life of Scarlett O’Hara, a spoilt and pampered daughter of a plantation owner and how the different events in her life changes her as a person. The book has sold more than 30 million copies till date and has become a classic and a source of inspiration for many authors. David O. Selznick adapted this novel into a movie and apparently 1400 women auditioned for Scarlett’s role before Vivien Leigh was chosen!



the-english-patient The English Patient

Genre: Historiographic metafiction
Published: 1992
Author: Michael Ondaatje
Movie: 1994
Number of Oscars: 9

Michael Ondaatje won the Booker prize and the Governor General’s Award for this book in 1992 and it tells the story of four people during World War II – a young army nurse, a man whose face is burned beyond recognition due to a plane crash, who is being taken care of by the nurse, a Sikh British soldier and a thief who meet at a destroyed villa in Italy. This book was adapted into a movie in 1996 starring Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Willem Dafoe.



schindler ark_movie_main Schindler’s Ark (Schindler’s List)

Genre: Historical/Biographical
Published: 1982
Author: Thomas Keneally
Movie: 1993
Number of Oscars: 7

This 1982 Booker prize winner is based on the life of Oskar Schindler, a German entrepreneur, who saved thousands of Jews from the German Army during the World War II by providing work for them in his factories and bribing the Nazi officials from causing any harm to his workers. The author’s inspiration for this book came from Mr. Pfefferberg, a holocaust survivor, who after repeated failed attempts to bring attention to Mr. Schindler’s actions finally convinced the author with his extensive research on this subject. Famed director Steven Spielberg, made this into a black and white, documentary like movie starring Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler.


silence_of_the_lambs The Silence of the Lambs

Genre: Historical/Biographical
Published: 1988
Author: Thomas Harris
Movie: 1991
Number of Oscars: 5

Probably one of the best crime thrillers of all time with the unforgettable serial killer – Dr. Hannibal Lector, was an instant success when it was released in 1988 and won multiple awards. This novel centers around Clarice Starling, a young FBI agent still under training and her encounter with the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lector, in connection with another case that she is involved with. This book was adapted into a movie by Jonathan Demme in 1991 starring Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling.



forrest gump Forrest Gump

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Published: 1986
Author: Winston Groom
Movie: 1996
Number of Oscars: 6

Unlike other best sellers listed in this article, the Forrest Gump novel was not a best seller when it was released. Only after it was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks did the novel turn into a best seller that sold more than 1.7 million copies worldwide. This novel is a man’s rant about his life. With low IQ, he has always been looked down by his peers but little do they realize that behind that wall of below average intelligence is a man of profound wisdom. The movie was one of the earliest successes of Paramount Pictures and made around $670 million worldwide.

Vanathi Parthasarathi

Vanathi Parthasarathi

Writer at IndiaBookStore
Love to read and have been reading since 5. Amatuer photographer and experimental cook! One of the best things in the world, according to me, is the smell of the pages in a book!
Vanathi Parthasarathi

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