Summer Reading List for Oscar Fans 2011

Memorial Day was this Monday, which marks the official start of summer by most people’s accounts. As tradition at Film Misery we want to encourage readers to get outside with a good book when the weather is warm. The following books and plays have film adaptations coming at the end of this year that have high hopes of Oscar success. Even if the film Awards never come that should at least be worthwhile reads for a lazy summer afternoon.

Summer Reading List 2011

1) The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
MOVIE TITLE = The Descendants

About the Book: Well-reviewed by the New Yorker among other outlets this novel tells the story of a privileged Hawaiian man who is forced to return to reality and care for his two daughters when his wife gets into an accident and is left in a coma. It is a drama that focuses on the lives of suburb-dwellers and appears to have great drama and stakes.

About the Movie: Keeping the same title as the book The Descendants is headed to theatres this fall from distinguished director Alexander Payne. George Clooney fills in the main role alongside Judy Grier, Matthew Lillard, and Beau Bridges among others. It should get a strong Oscar push from very hot distributor Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Movie Release Date: December 16, 2011

2) Faragut North by Beau Willimon
MOVIE TITLE = The Ides of March

About the Play: Loosely based on the 2004 political campaign of Howard Dean this play tells the story of one man’s lust for power and the lengths he is willing to go to achieve it. The play was well-reviewed when it played in New York City in 2008 and should be a quick and interesting read.

About the Movie: George Clooney and his frequent writing partner Grant Heslov assemble this adaptation that boasts one of the greatest casts I have ever seen including Clooney, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Gosling, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jeffrey Wright among others. If it’s not a Best Picture contender it should definitely be present in an acting category or two.

Movie Release Date: October 14, 2011

3) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
MOVIE TITLE = The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

About the Book: If you haven’t at least heard of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy then I must ask how it is under that rock where you’ve been living. As one of the best-selling book series of the past decade, Larsson’s noir-style stories introduce gothic super-hacker Lisbeth Salander who seems invincible in the face of any criminal or sexual deviant. This first book of the series is a quick read and highly recommended.

About the Movie: Last year the film received a successful Swedish adaptation and this year David Fincher will introduce Lisbeth Salander to mainstream audiences with an English-language version. Noomi Rapace is set for a breakout role as Lisbeth and Daniel Craig, Stellan Skarsgaard, Robin Wright, and Christopher Plummer star among others.

Movie Release Date: December 21, 2011

4) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
MOVIE TITLE = Hugo Cabret

About the Book: This book could almost be considered a graphic novel considering its 533 pages consist of 284 pictures. The story is about Hugo Cabret, a young inventor whose world changes when he crosses paths with a young girl. For those turned off by young adult fiction, have no fear as the novel was largely inspired by the work of filmmaker Georges Melies and contains much symbolism.

About the Movie: Martin Scorcese makes his first 3-D film ever with this highly visual adaptation. Beyond the expected visual Oscars it might also score for its stars Johnny Depp, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Richard Griffiths, Sacha Baron Cohen, Ben Kingsley or Ray Winstone.

Movie Release Date: November 23, 2011

5) We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel by Lionel Shriver
MOVIE TITLE = We Need to Talk About Kevin

About the Book: Told from the perspective of a grieving mother, this novel is about the parents of a 17-year old who has killed seven students and two adults. It is a story about guilt and coming to terms with ones past mistakes told in a gripping and suspenseful way.

About the Movie: One of the hits of the Cannes Film Festival this movie from director Lynne Ramsay has high expectations as it gets ready for an American release. Tilda Swinton’s performance is one of the most highly acclaimed of the year and she stars alongside John C. Reilly as the grieving parents at the center of the story.

Movie Release Date: Fall TBA 2011

6) Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
MOVIE TITLE = Moneyball

About the Book: This long-time best-seller has been described as a must-read for sports fans as it gives an inside look at the business side of professional sports. It tells the story of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and his ability to create a winning with a team that has a low payroll.

About the Movie: This sounds like a Social Network type scenario where the film adaptation will dramatize a nonfiction story in a way that is very different than the original source material. Capote director Bennett Miller takes the reigns with a fantastic cast including Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Movie Release Date: September 23, 2011

7) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carre
MOVIE TITLE = Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

About the Book: This British spy novel rekindles Cold War attitudes with Moscow-based enemy. This is the first novel in a trilogy by John le Carre who has been described as a master of the spy genre.

About the Movie: Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Colin Firth all star in Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of the novel. Several images from the set of this movie has emerged, but it has mostly stayed hush hush and has garnered lots of speculation from movie fan websites across the internet.

Movie Release Date: TBA Fall 2011

8) God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza

About the Play: This Broadway sensation garnered numerous Tony nominations and has been enjoying a lengthy and successful run. Telling the story of parental difficulties in raising young children, God of Carnage is described as smart and bitterly funny.

About the Movie: Legendary and controversial director Roman Polanski will be adapting this one with a cast including recent Oscar winners Kate Winslet and Christoph Waltz along with John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster. It may not make it into a 2011 release, but it should get a lot of buzz when it does come out.

Movie Release Date: TBA

9) The Talking Cure by Christopher Hampton
MOVIE TITLE: A Dangerous Method

About the Play: This play offers an intimate portrayal of the birth of psychoanalysis centering on Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. It’s a dialogue-heavy piece that focuses on one of the most influential ways to look at humanity.

About the Movie: David Cronenberg has his first movie since 2007’s Eastern Promises and Christopher Hampton adapts his own play for the screen. The cast includes Cronenberg muse Viggo Mortensen, Keira Knightley, Vincent Cassel and Michael Fassbender among others.

Movie Release Date: TBA 2011

10) War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

About the Book: This novel tells the story about a bloody World War I battle through the perspective of an English horse. It has recently been adapted for the stage and had a very successful run in London and recently came to Broadway.

About the Movie: Steven Spielberg’s second film of 2011 after The Adventures of Tintin has a more unknown cast with Eddie Marsan being one of the only recognizable names. If it plays well on the stage it will probably adapt well to the screen.

Movie Release Date: December 28, 2011

Let me know if there are any other books you think are worth checking out this summer. Happy reading!

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  • Luis

    where is THE RUM DIARY?????. One of the best book that I had read…Puerto Rico, Sun, Carnaval, Summer, Ron!!!!!

  • Asif Khan

    good :)

  • Thanks, great list

  • @Luis – Good catch on ‘The Rum Diary’. That one definitely deserves to be added.

  • Jose

    While its not a great idea to read a book outside here (its f*cking cold here!) a lot of these are great titles. I read
    We Need to Talk about Kevin 2 weeks ago and it was a grueling, yet fantastic experience. I also read One Day and I hope that the movie is as good as the novel, becaquse the movie looks like a typical hollywood romance flick.

    I am excited to read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, God of Carnage and I’m going to check out this play called The Maids, since apperantly the main characters there inspired the Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg characters, And of course re-reading Harry Potter $ the Deathly Hallows

  • I’ve been looking for The Talking Cure and it’s nowhere to be found except some at Amazon which are sold at ridiculous price.

    I guess it’s better to read A Most Dangerous Method then, but I’ll put it on to-read list later because it has 600 pages.

  • @Jose – Where are you that it’s “f*cking cold”? I’m in Minnesota, which is rarely warm, but this time of year we reach the high 80s with ease.

    I just recently finished re-reading ‘The Deathly Hallows’ and gosh I’m excited.

  • Jose

    Spain, got here on Sunday and it can get to the 30s and yet locals are in shorts and eating ice cream, which is ridiculous!

  • Andrew R.

    I’ve only read 1/10, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But I’ve been meaning to read Hugo Cabret and We Need to Talk.

  • Marcos

    It’s a pity you left out “The Help.” That might have two Supporting Actress nominations!

  • @Marcos – I didn’t include any summer movies otherwise Harry Potter would have probably made the list as well.

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