Can We Use Book Data to Call the Oscar Best Actor and Actress Race?Posted by Hayley on February 22, 2016
From Room to The Revenant, Oscar voters can't get enough of book adaptations. Nowhere is this trend more obvious than in the Best Actor and Best Actress categories.
Yes, movies have been based on books and true stories since the silent film era, but this year represents a notable spike: While true story adaptations remain relatively flat, the number of best actor or actress nominees who starred in movies based on books have reached a new peak this year.
An even bigger indicator? Movies in which book and true story adaptation overlap. That has been a clear path to Oscar glory in the Best Actor category.
All of this year's Best Actor nominees are from movies based on books and true stories, except for one: Matt Damon's turn as a stranded astronaut in the science fiction thriller The Martian.
However, Oscar voters don't seem to favor true stories as much in the Best Actress category. While two out of the past three Best Actress winners have been from films based on books—Julianne Moore in Still Alice and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, you have to go back to 2011 to find a true story adaptation taking home the award.
But let's get back to this year. The nine book-to-film adaptations nominated for a Best Actor or Best Actress Oscar fall into two very distinct groups: Based on a blockbuster book OR based on a book most people have never heard of (let alone read).
Book popularity isn't everything—but it does matter, especially in the Best Actress category. The last two book-to-film adaptations to take home the Best Actress award (Julianne Moore in Still Alice and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook) were based on books with over 100k ratings on Goodreads. The opposite seems to be true for the Best Actor category. You have to go all the way back to 2003 (Sean Penn in Mystic River) to find a book with over 50k ratings on Goodreads taking home the prize.
When we combine our Goodreads book data with current Oscar trends, we're left with two predictions for the big award night:
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
A performance in a movie based on a true story and a less popular book
Best Actress: Brie Larson in Room
A performance in a movie based on a very popular book and not on a true story
Add the books that inspired the Oscar-nominated films to your Want to Read shelf!
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