Are you ready for The Oscars?

Well, if you’re like me and based in the UK you probably won’t be staying up until the wee small hours awaiting the big announcements, especially as it’s a school night!

Books are more my thing than films, for sure, but I do love a good movie and going to the cinema remains a treat, even with all the alternative options we have today, such as DVDs, television subscription channels and live streaming. The UK Academy Awards (the BAFTAs) have got bigger over the years, but still don’t match the glitz and the prestige of the Oscars, even though scandals and mishaps have tarnished the image of the US awards ceremony in recent times.

if beale street could talk imgI’m always looking for the films with literary links and they are particularly scarce this year. If Beale Street Could Talk is the only novel-based film, that I could spot, and is based on the Harlem-set love story by James Baldwin, first published in 1974. I’ve just started reading it. The Spike Lee film BlacKkKlansman and the comedy Can You Ever Forgive Me? are both based on memoirs, the former a true story of a young African-American detective who set out to infiltrate and bring down the KKK, and the latter, starring Melissa McCarthy and Richard E Grant, also a memoir, about a celebrity biographer who finds herself out of work and changes tack to become a forger. This one also has a female director (too rare). I haven’t yet seen any of these films, but all of them appeal.

The three films above all have chances of winning big and have been nominated in a number of categories, but I note that in the Best Adapted Screenplay category the Coen brothers have a nomination for The Ballad of Buster Scraggs, a film based partly on short stories, written by the Coen brothers themselves. I don’t know much about this one and I don’t think it’s on general release yet in the UK.

Traditionally, when the Oscars come around, many of the films are fairly new to the UK, so audiences here may not have seen some of them, for example, The Wife, which has not yet reached the north of England. Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star is Born seem to have been around forever. Neither really appeals to me, although friends who have seen them say both are great.

I have seen Roma, Vice and The Favourite and loved all three. Roma was probably the one I found most moving, although Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, manages to draw out the heartbreaking loneliness and isolation of the troubled monarch. Vice is just scary!

I don’t know enough about the film world to offer my top tips, but I will watch the highlights tomorrow with interest and hope that the script for the myriad presenters is less cringe-making than poor Joanna Lumley’s at the BAFTAs!

Which of the big Oscar-nominated movies have you seen and what are your favourites?

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Latest films with literary links

I am so excited for the new upcoming Mary Poppins movie, although a little apprehensive too as it was one of the very first films I saw at the cinema as a child with my Mum, and it remains one of my all-time favourites. I’ve seen it countless times. I doubt the new version (or rather sequel, apparently), starring Emily Blunt and Lin Manuel Miranda, will be able to live-up to the charm and magic of the original for me, but it has had some decent reviews. And it stars Meryl Streep. It is released in the UK on 21 December, so perfect timing for a Christmas Eve outing or an excuse to leave the house in the days after Christmas.

As ever, I am always on the look-out for literary links to films that are out. They can be a great way of getting kids who may normally be reluctant to pick up a book, back into reading; if they enjoy the movie they will have an incentive to relive the experience through the book and may be able to imagine the scenes more easily. Here is my list of current and forthcoming films that have a literary link.

xmas film 1

 

The Grinch 

I saw this a few weeks ago with my 12 year old daughter and we both really enjoyed it. It is, of course, based on Dr Seuss’s wonderful How the Grinch Stole Christmas and is currently on general release.

 

xmas film 2

 

Fantastic Beasts: the Crimes of Grindelwald

Needs no introduction, of course. Not exactly based on a book, but written by the awesome J K Rowling, and follow-up to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which she wrote in 2001. I haven’t seen it and it has had mixed reviews, but my 12 year old loved it when she saw it with her friends, and I feel sure it will not disappoint Ms Rowling’s many many fans.

 

xmas film 3

 

Widows

I am a big fan of Steve McQueen and his latest movie has a fabulous cast, including Viola Davis (The Handmaid’s Tale, Orange is the New Black), Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson. The film is based on the 1980s TV series (left) of the same name (I remember it!), which was of course written by the wonderful actress turned writer Lynda La Plante. The film has a 15 certificate.

xmas film 4It’s a Wonderful Life

This film is showing in a lot of cinemas this Christmas and is the eternal pick-me-up. Another one of my all-time favourites. But did you know it is actually based on a short story called The Greatest Gift by Philip van Doren Stern, published in 1945?

xmas film 5

 

Disobedience

Definitely one for the grown-ups, this film is set in an Orthodox Jewish community in London, where two women, one who left many years earlier and one who stayed and married the rabbi-to-be, pursue a forbidden affair. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Naomi Alderman. I’ve seen it and it’s great.

 

xmas film 6

 

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Finally, this PG-rated movie has had some solid reviews and is of course based on the Marvel Comics hero of the same name. Spider-Man is not just your average super-hero, though. He is a complex and troubled character and these traits can often be explored more thoroughly on the page than on the screen. If your kids love the movie, you could also look out for the graphic novels, of which there are many.

Later this week I’ll be poring over the Christmas broadcasting schedules, flagging up the literary links for you.

In the meantime enjoy these final frantic days!.

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