Memorial Day has passed, schools are letting out, and baseball season is in full swing – it’s summer baby! Time to lay out on the hammock with a tall glass of lemonade and some great reading materials. If you’re a movie fan, lazy summer days are a great time to prepare for the fall/winter Awards season by reading the books on which the future Oscar hopefuls will be based. Here are ten books that I recommend to prepare yourself for the 2011 Oscar season:
Summer Reading List 2010
1) A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth
About the Book: This psychological thriller chronicles the experiences of a “shadow-dweller” – a special weapons expert for the CIA – as he hides out undercover in a remote Italian village. He suspects conspiracy and that he is being trailed by another “shadow dweller” leading to a thrilling cat and mouse game through Italy. At 288 pages, it is a quick read that could be knocked out in a few short afternoons this summer.
About the Movie: The official movie title for this one is The American. George Clooney is cast to play the title character who in the movie will simply be referred to as “Jack.” Anton Corbijn (Control) has signed on to to direct with Rowan Joffe (28 Weeks Later) writing the script. The film could possibly be a contender for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for George Clooney.
Release Date: September 1, 2010
2) The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich
About the Book: Ben Mezrich could have told a technical story that lays out the corporate structure of the founding of Facebook. Instead he writes a gossip-filled about celebrity parties, one night stands, and other juicy details surrounding Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, and other Facebook creators. It chronicles the lives of two awkward undergrads as they embark on their journey from nerd to celebrity. The book has become a best seller and Kevin Spacey gives it a rave review on Amazon.
About the Movie: The official movie title for this film is The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, has written the script for the movie with David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) on board to direct. Starring as the awkward Facebookers Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin are Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, respectively. The film also stars Rashida Jones, Max Minghella, and Justin Timberlake. It probably won’t win any major acting awards, but look for it to compete for Best Picture, Best Director, and definitely Best Screenplay.
Release Date: October 15, 2010
3) London Boulevard by Ken Bruen
About the Book: Mitchell is a former criminal who has just been released from jail and is trying to avoid returning to a life of crime. He falls in love with a woman, but is unable to fully devote himself to her because he is constantly haunted by his past. Eventually he resorts to a plan of revenge on those who have wronged him in the past. The book might be tough to find, but would be a good read if you have a chance.
About the Movie: This movie will share its title with the book London Boulevard. The cast features the one-two powerhouse punch of Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley, two actors who usually receive considerable acclaim. This film also marks the directorial debut of William Monahan, screenwriter for The Departed. Monahan also writes the screenplay and the supporting cast includes Ray Winstone, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Anna Friel. Nobody knows much about the project, but it could be a surprise frontrunner for several Oscars from Best Picture to Best Screenplay.
Release Date: TBA
4) The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek for Freedom by Slavomir Rawicz
About the Book: This book is an autobiography written by Slavomir Rawicz who was a Polish cavalry officer during World War II. He was captured by the Red Army in 1939 and taken to the Siberian Gulag to work in a camp for several years. He and several of his colleagues escaped the labor camp and embarked on a strange journey to India where they could re-enlist in the Army. This book recounts the journey that was made.
About the Movie: The official title for the movie is The Way Back. Colin Farrell leads this film’s all-star cast which also features past Oscar nominees Ed Harris and Saoirse Ronan, and up and comers Jim Sturgess and Mark Strong. Peter Weir (Master and Commander) has written the script and is also directing the movie that hopes to be a contender for Best Picture, Screenplay, and many other Oscars.
Release Date: TBA
5) Miral: A Novel by Rula Jebreal
About the Book: I guess I can’t exactly classify this as “summer reading” considering the book isn’t released in the U.S. until October, however, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on. The story follows one woman’s attempt to create an orphanage in Jerusalem in the early 1950s in the midst of the partitioning of Israel and Palestine.
About the Movie: Julian Schnabel, whose Oscar status has been increasing with each subsequent film he has made, is signed on to direct this film. The book’s author, Rula Jebreal has also written the screenplay and the film was just recently picked up by The Weinstein Company. Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) stars as the title character with Willem Dafoe also in the cast. The film could be the big breakout for Pinto and score her an Oscar nomination. It also looks to compete across the board as it will likely be the Weinstein’s major horse in this year’s race.
Release Date: TBA
6) True Grit by Charles Portis
About the Book: When people heard about the “True Grit” remake most recalled the 1969 Henry Hathaway, not the Charles Portis novel. However, Portis’ novel is one of the cult writer’s best and definitely worth picking up. Originally published in 1968 it tells the story of Mattie, who goes on a revenge mission after her father is killed and she is robbed by a cowardly cowboy named Tom Chaney. Along with gritty U.S. Marshall Rosster Cogburn, Mattie seeks to find and kill Tom Chaney.
About the Movie: The Coen Bros. have written and directed the film, which will be as much based on the original film as it is on the book. Jeff Bridges steps into John Wayne’s role as Marshall Cogburn and Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Hailee Steinfeld also star. It’s unclear which direction the movie is going to take the well-known story, but it is clear that wherever the Coens go, Oscar seems to follow.
Release Date: December 24, 2010
7) Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire
About the Play: This Pulitzer Prize winning play recounts a couples’ relationship as they cope with the loss of a child. The play is rich with dramatic tension in the form of monologues and incredibly smart dialogue and is definitely an actor’s script. The play won several Tony Awards in 2006 including Best Play, Best Actress, Best Featured Actress, and Best Director.
About the Movie: David Lindsay-Abaire is back to adapt his own play into a feature film with John Cameron Mitchell (Shortbus) signed on to direct. The film will star Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as the grieving couple in two of their most Oscar-bait roles to date. The film also will star Sandra Oh and Dianne Wiest as supporting actresses and could see some major acting awards coming its way.
Release Date: TBA
8) Hard Sell: Evolution of a Viagra Salesman by Jamie Reidy
About the Book: It’s been called the Jerry Maguire of the pharmaceutical business. This memoir is written by Jamie Reidy who formerly peddled pills to wealthy businessmen and knows every trick in the book. It simultaneously tells Reidy’s story and reveals the dirty secrets of an industry that affects almost every American. With the continuing healthcare controversies in our nation, the film couldn’t be any more topical.
About the Movie: The official title of the movie is Love and Other Drugs. The description of the protagonist in this movie made me immediately think of Aaron Eckhart in Thank You for Smoking. I was somewhat surprised to hear that Jake Gyllenhaal will be taking the lead role in this film as the suave and fast-talking sales guru. Anne Hathaway, Judy Greer, Hank Azaria, and Oliver Platt also join the cast of the movie that is being written and directed by Ed Zwick. Zwick is very hit and miss with the Oscars, but this film is a bit of a departure for him which just might pay off.
Release Date: November 24, 2010
9) Fair Game by Valerie Plame/The Politics of Truth by Joseph Wilson
About the Books: The combination of these two novels was used for the film adaptation even though the title that was decided on was based on Valerie Plame’s autobiographical novel. The other book was written by Plame’s husband, Joseph Wilson, so it is presumed that the filmmakers chose both in order to give two perspectives to the story of a CIA agent’s leaked identity.
About the Movie: Douglas Liman’s Fair Game premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and received generally high praise. Sean Penn and Naomi Watts have been described as Oscar sure things for their roles as the leading couple. The film also stars Ty Burrell and Sam Shepard in supporting roles. Expect for it to possibly sneak in as a possible #6-10 Best Picture contender.
Release Date: TBA
10) The Adjustment Bureau by Philip K. Dick
About the Book: One of science ficton great Philip K. Dick’s many short stories, The Adjustment Bureau makes for a great lazy afternoon read. It tells the story of a political couple whose love story is thwarted by agents who claim to control all human decisions. The pair attempts to escape their fate through a science fiction cat and mouse game.
About the Movie: Georg Nolfi (co-writer of The Bourne Ultimatum) makes his directorial debut with this mind-bending thriller. The film stars Matt Damon and Emily Blunt as the leading couple and features an all-star supporting cast that includes Daniel Dae Kim, John Slattery, Anthony Mackie andTerence Stamp. With its sci-fi concept, it probably won’t be a frontrunner for any major Oscars, but after the success of last year’s Avatar and District 9, you never know.
Release Date: September 17, 2010
Which books will you be reading this summer? Let me know in the comments!