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Book To Film: Oscar Nominations 2014- Part Two

by Catherine Van Bergen (follow)
Non-Fiction (83)      Biography (21)      Film (8)     


Here is the second part to this collection, which lists several Oscar-nominated films (for 2014) that were adapted from books.

The Wolf Of Wall Street – Jordan Belfort



Film: The Wolf Of Wall Street

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Directing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Jordan Belfort- a self-made millionaire- has led a rather extraordinary (if unbelievable, at times) life and it was only made possible by the stockbroking boom of the 1990s. Growing up in the Bronx area of New York City, Jordan dreamed of becoming rich, and it wasn’t until he joined a brokerage firm at the age of twenty-four that he was able to realise the wealth that he could accumulate. Six years later, he was successfully running his own brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont, making millions of dollars daily, holding lavish parties, and consuming more drugs than are available in the storage room of your local pharmacy. He married the beautiful Nadine, whom he called ‘The Duchess’ and had a gorgeous baby daughter, Chandler, whom he doted on. Meanwhile, he was making so much money- a lot of it illegally, by defrauding stock investors and manipulating share prices – that he found himself being watched by the authorities, and enlisted the help of his friends (and some shady Swiss bankers) to help him protect his fortune. His unrestrained lifestyle soon saw him become increasingly dependent on drugs and, after a few close encounters with premature death, he was sent to rehab. With his family now disintegrated, his life spiralling out of control and having faced a twenty-two month stint in federal prison, Jordan’s life was more than interesting enough for him to decide to pen an autobiography about it. The Wolf Of Wall Street went on to sell millions of copies internationally, securing Belfort’s new life as a motivational speaker, and inspiring Martin Scorsese to adapt the unusual life of Jordan Belfort into an award-nominated film.

Rating: 4/5
Published: December 2013 (Film Tie-In Edition)

The Sting Man – Robert W. Greene



Film: American Hustle

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Directing, Film Editing, Production Design, Writing (Original Screenplay).

Inspiring the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated film American Hustle, Robert W. Greene’s book tells the true inside story of real-life hustler Mel Weinberg, as he helped the FBI take down a vast majority of the corrupt American government in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Known in the Bronx for his wheeling-and-dealing ways, Weinberg was the ultimate scam artist, specialising and delighting in tricking well-educated and greedy businessmen, politicians and other conmen out of millions of dollars. He set up bogus companies to entrap people and make a quick buck, and used legitimate businesses to push further criminal ideas. It wasn’t until he was jailed, trying to protect his British mistress from possible legal implications, that he came to the attention of the FBI, who figured they could make a deal with him. Thus, Mel Weinberg became involved in the biggest ever scam of his life- one that would expose corrupt senators and congressmen, and change the way that the American public viewed some of their most trusted and official representatives of the government. This book is both absorbing and interesting- it’s amazing to see how a dynamic conman, along with a strong FBI team, was able to expose corrupt officials taking bribes, make a legal case of it, and therefore overthrow an entire network of criminality. Weinberg’s masterminding of the entire Abscam case (as it became known) was absolutely brilliant- he left no stone unturned and it’s easy to see how he was able to make such a living from his chosen ‘profession’ as a con artist, swindler and hustler. Having won a host of Golden Globes, BAFTAs and other awards (and with a total of 10 nominations for the Oscars) this film was sure to scoop up big time at the Academy Awards, but unfortunately, this was not to be. Nevertheless, it still did remarkably well considering that it’s based on one short book about a conman taking on the government and exposing an American scandal.

Rating: 3/5
Published: December 2013

Philomena – Martin Sixsmith (Originally published as The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee)



Film: Philomena

Nominated for: Best Picture, Best Actress, Music (Original Score), Writing (Adapted Screenplay).

Having not seen the film, I naturally assumed from the original title of the book that this biography would be an epic quest about a young unwed Irish woman, spending her years trying to find the son she had to unwillingly give up for adoption. Instead, I was left quite disappointed. Not to fault the exceptional writing and extensive research undertaken to write this book, this story instead documents the life of Philomena’s son, Anthony (whose name was later changed to Mike), as he is transported to America to begin life with a new family. From the age of four, the young Irish lad (and his ‘sister’ from Ireland, Mary) are integrated into the American way of life. Along the way, Mike deals with his sexuality, relationships, his growing prominence in the Republican Party (which is known for its homophobic views), the AIDS crisis, and abandonment issues stemming from his childhood adoption. Making several trips back to Ireland (specifically Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea) before his death, Mike is resigned to never finding out the truth about his birth mother, the stories of the ‘fallen women’ and the Church’s attitudes towards adoption and money- a fact that lends a heartbreaking quality to this story. It’s also disappointing that besides the first part of the book and the epilogue, the reader never hears anything about Philomena and her search for her son- it’s all about Mike’s life rather than her search (which seemingly only comes about by accident). Although the facts of this story are interesting to read, and the life of Mike is well-written, this book was not what I expected it to be…

Rating: 3/5
Published: November 2013 (Film Tie-In Edition)

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