A Guide to the Candidates for the Book Adaptation Award – The Hollywood Reporter

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The Green Knight

Author: Anonymous

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is perhaps the best known Arthur tale, a 14th-century ode to chivalry and mortality drawn from Welsh, Irish and English folklore. “What caught me by this story, apart from its heavy-metal strangeness, is that it’s about a knight willingly embarking on a journey towards his own death,” says writer-director David Lowery, whose stylish A24 film adaptation has Dev Patel in the lead role. as Gawain. “The way both the hero and the anonymous author struggle with mortality and deadly fallibility is as fresh and relevant now as it certainly was when it was written over 700 years ago.”

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Dev Patel as Sir Gawain in A24’s The Green Knight.
Lent by Eric Zachanowich / A24

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Macbeth

Author: William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s classic tale of ambition, power, corruption and murder has been referred to as “The Scottish Play” by superstitious actors for centuries, but it is likely that Oscar-winning titans Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand did not have much to fear as they took on the roles of Lord and Lady Macbeth in this latest film version. McDormand’s husband, Joel Coen, who wrote and directed this adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy (or “tragedy” as it became known when it was first performed on stage in 1606), goes far beyond the supernatural undertones of the source material and presents a sharp, brutalist, black and white interpretation of Barden’s plays.

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Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth in A24 / Apple TV +’s The tragedy of Macbeth.
With permission from Apple Tv +.

'Macbeth' by William Shakespeare

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Passed

Author: Nella Larsen

Larsen, a literary icon from the Harlem Renaissance by virtue of having published two eye-catching novels in his career, wrote this tale of two childhood friends – Irene, who identifies as black, and Clare, who goes too white – who reconnects as adults and finds themselves becoming closely involved in each other’s lives. “In the adaptation Passed, I discovered that the issues Nella Larsen struggled with in 1929 – issues of identity, race, sexuality, gender and class – are just as compelling and deeply personal today, ”says Rebecca Hall, who made her directorial debut with Netflix. -atization of Larsen’s book. “I hope my film has a fraction of the enduring power of her indelible novel.”

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Ruth Negga as Clare (left) and Tessa Thompson as Irene in Netflix’s Passed.
Lent by the Sundance Institute

'Passing' by Nella Larsen

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Cyrano de Bergerac

Author: Edmond Rostand

“This felt so relevant to me,” says Erica Schmidt from Cyrano de Bergerac, which she first rethought as a stage musical, before director Joe Wright brought his new vision of the narrative to the big screen. In Wright’s adaptation, Peter Dinklage plays the eponymous playwright and romantic (who renounces the character’s iconic elongated nose) who helps his friend Christian’s hunt for the beautiful Roxanne – though Cyrano is also in love with Roxanne. “Cyrano felt vital to me because of the deep, timeless, urgent desire to have everything we want – and the terrible fear underneath that we are actually unworthy to be loved at all. “

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Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian in Focus Features’ Cyrano.
Lent by Peter Mountain / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

'Cyrano de Bergerac' by Edmond Rostand

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Dune

Author: Frank Herbert

Herbert’s landmark sci-fi epic from 1965 was largely considered unfilmable (for example: David Lynch’s 1984 version). Dune However, mega-fan Denis Villeneuve achieved the almost impossible with his latest film, which addresses the first half of the tome. “Wrote Frank Herbert Dune as a warning about charismatic heroes and the danger of messianic figures, ”says the director of the book’s timelessness. “We can still observe political powers arming religion and, conversely, religions infiltrating politics. But what makes this book even more relevant are the ecological concerns that became tragically prophetic over time. “

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Zendaya as Chani in Warner Bros. ‘ adaptation of Dune.
Lent by Chia Bella James / Warner Bros.

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The power of the dog

Author: Thomas Savage

Savage’s 1967 novel is the basis for Oscar winner Jane Campion’s first feature film in 12 years. The power of the dog follows an evil and sinister rancher named Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), who makes life a hell for his brother and new sister-in-law. “I could not guess what was going to happen,” Campion says of the novel. “It’s not just a 1925 cowboy story about the life of the ranch; this is a lived experience and I think because of that I felt a real confidence in the story. I would honor Thomas Savage with this film. When I read a book like this, I do not take the editing lightly. I want it as good as it can get. I do not want to say that I am a perfectionist, but I like to do things really thoroughly. “

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Benedict Cumberbatch (left) and Jesse Plemons in Netflix’s The power of the dog.
Lent by Kirsty Griffin / Netflix

'The Power of the Dog' by Thomas Savage

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The prodigal daughter

Author: Elena Ferrante

This book by the pseudonymous author – whose best-selling Neapolitan novels sparked “Ferrante Fever” on both sides of the Atlantic – is the basis for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s debut as a director. Ferrante’s book tells the story of a woman (Olivia Colman) who becomes obsessed with a young mother (Dakota Johnson) and offers an intimate inner look at motherhood. “A secret piece of my experience as a mother who loves as a woman in the world was spoken out loud for the first time,” says Gyllenhaal, who also wrote the script. “I thought, ‘How exciting and dangerous to create such an experience – not quietly and alone with a book – but in a space filled with living, feeling people.’ “

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Dakota Johnson as Nina in Netflix’s The prodigal daughter.
Lent by Telluride Film Festival

'The Lost Daughter' by Elena Ferrante

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Nightmare alley

Author: William Lindsay Gresham

Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro credits actor Ron Perlman for introducing him to Gresham’s dark novel, which was the basis of the film noir of the same name from 1947. Del Toro’s version, co-written with Kim Morgan, is another adaptation – not a remake of the previous film – of Gresham’s tale of a griffin who became a carnival barker, Stan Carlisle (portrayed in the film by Bradley Cooper), with a talent for manipulating people around him for his own gain. Toni Collette, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett play three women in Stan’s life as he plans his path to success.

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Rooney Mara and Bradley Cooper in Searchlight’s Nightmare alley.
Lent by Kerry Hayes / 20th Century Studios

'Nightmare Alley' by William Lindsay Gresham

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Tender Bar

Author: JR Moehringer

George Clooney directs the adaptation of Moehringer’s memoirs based on a screenplay written by Oscar winner William Monahan. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Moehringer looks back on his childhood, where he was raised by his single mother (played in the film by Lily Rabe) and her extended family – and writes lovingly about finding a father figure in his literature-loving bartender uncle, Charlie (Ben Affleck). The growing film sees Moehringer jump back and forth in time, with Tye Sheridan and newcomer Daniel Ranieri playing the author (and actor Ron Livingston delivering his ubiquitous narrative).

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Lily Rabe and Daniel Ranieri in Amazon’s Tender Bar.
Lent by Claire Folger / Amazon Studios

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This story first appeared in the November 22 issue of the Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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