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This weekend, as the television-savvy among you are no doubt already aware, brings us the 74th Golden Globes, a ceremony that aims to honor the best of the year in film and television—but is also famous for being a total drink-a-thon. Which is actually perfect for literary types—as long as they have whiskey. While the event is not explicitly literary, there are plenty of literary adaptations up for prizes, so if you happen to be attending a Golden Globes party with a bunch of book people (or just want to snob up the room a bit), here’s what you need to know, from the literary origins of the nominees to a few frankly outrageous literary snubs. Add a stiff drink, and you’re good to go.
The Literary Nominees
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story: Best TV Miniseries or Movie · Best Supporting Actor (John Travolta) · Best Supporting Actor (Sterling K. Brown) · Best Actor, TV Miniseries or Movie (Courtney B. Vance) · Best Actress, TV Miniseries or Movie (Sarah Paulson)
The top literary nominee of the year, with a total of five nods, is The People v. O. J. Simpson (actually the first season of FX’s American Crime Story anthology series), based on Jeffrey Toobin’s 1997 bestseller The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Toobin acted as a consultant on the series.
Lion: Best Picture, Drama · Best Supporting Actor (Dev Patel) · Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman) · Best Original Score
Picking up five nominations is Lion, based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir, the #1 international bestseller A Long Way Home, which documents his experiences after being lost on a train in India when he was only five years old.
The Night Manager: Best TV Miniseries or Movie; Best Supporting Actor (Hugh Laurie) · Best Supporting Actress (Olivia Colman) · Best Actor, TV Miniseries or Movie (Tom Hiddleston)
Who doesn’t love a good British miniseries? Especially this one, which is based on the 1993 novel of the same name by John le Carré but set in the present day.
Nocturnal Animals: Best Director (Tom Ford) · Best Supporting Actor (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) · Best Screenplay (Tom Ford)
A dark, visually-engrossing adaptation of Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan, which takes its title from the novel within that novel—a disturbing and somehow threatening book sent to a woman by her ex-husband.
Arrival: Best Actress, Drama (Amy Adams) · Best Original Score
One of the best films of the year (I’d say there’s a snub in here somewhere with these paltry two noms) was based on a short story—Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life,” which won both the 1999 Sturgeon award and the 2000 Nebula for Best Novella. It’s literary in nature as well as in origin, too—the story and film are essentially based on the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which posits that the language we speak directly affects the way we perceive and understand the world.
Fences: Best Actor, Drama (Denzel Washington) · Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis)
Fences is based on August Wilson’s 1983 play by the same title—the sixth play in his ten-part “Pittsburgh Cycle”—which won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play in 1987.
Mozart in the Jungle: Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical · Best Actor, Comedy (Gael Garcia Bernal)
Amazon may be the Big Bad of the literary world, but sometimes they do something good. Mozart in the Jungle, based on oboist Blair Tindall’s 2006 memoir Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs, and Classical Music, won last year’s Golden Globes in both categories it’s nominated for this year—so either a champion is about to be toppled, or a reign is about to begin.
Elle: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Actress, Drama (Isabelle Huppert)
Elle is based on French writer Philippe Djian’s 2002 novel Oh…, which won the Prix Interallié, an annual award given to the best French novel written by a journalist. Isabelle Huppert’s performance in this film has already been much lauded, earning her the New York Film Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, and the Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress, so I’d say she’s a contender.
Game of Thrones: Best TV Series, Drama · Best Supporting Actress (Lena Headey)
No explanation required.
Hidden Figures: Best Supporting Actress (Octavia Spencer) · Best Original Score
Based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s bestselling book of the same name, the much-acclaimed Hidden Figures is the untold story of three black female mathematicians who were instrumental to NASA’s success in the 1960s. More prizes for smart ladies!
My Life as a Zucchini: Best Animated Feature Film
This adorable French-Swiss stop-motion film about a boy sent to an orphanage in France is based on the 2002 novel Autobiographie d’une Courgette by the French writer Gilles Paris.
Outlander: Best Actress, Drama (Caitriona Balfe)
Diana Gabaldon’s sexy historical time travel series became a show in 2014. This nomination for Balfe (who plays Claire Randall, of course) reflects her work in this year’s second season, based on Dragonfly in Amber. Never fear, fans—the third and fourth seasons have already been ordered.
Neruda: Best Foreign Language Film
This last one isn’t a literary adaptation—but hey, it’s about Pablo Neruda (though something of an anti-biopic), so I’m counting it.
Notable Literary Snubs
The Golden Globes has chosen to ignore Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden, based on the novel by Sarah Waters, and my personal favorite film of the year. I can’t understand it. The movie is gorgeous, sensual, terrifying, and an utterly captivating experience—more captivating even than its source material. It’s a stunning achievement, and it should really get every award.
Orange is the New Black
The best season of the show (based, as you may remember, on Piper Kerman’s 2010 memoir) gets not even a nomination, breaking a three-year streak of nods. Just a matter of burnout?
Love & Friendship
A generally underrated (or at least under-discussed) film this year, but actually great. Whit Stillman! Kate Beckinsale! Chloë Sevigny! Jane Austen, except meaner than you remember! Well-acted, lively, and satisfyingly acerbic.
I have a soft spot for films based on short story collections—in part because they’re just so hard to do. But this movie, based on short stories from Maile Meloy’s Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, is undeniably good, a slow-burn masterpiece. To be fair, I’m totally not surprised that this film didn’t get a nomination, so I don’t know if it’s really a “snub.” But in a perfect world…
The Girl on the Train
Just kidding. Even Emily Blunt couldn’t save this movie.
So, for a fully literary ticket, here are your winning picks:
Best Picture, Drama: Lion
Best Picture, Comedy or Musical: No opinion
Best Director: Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Best Actor, Drama: Denzel Washington, Fences
Best Actress, Drama: Amy Adams, Arrival (or Isabelle Huppert, Elle)
Best Actor, Comedy: No opinion (but Colin Farrell in The Lobster)
Best Actress, Comedy: No opinion
Best Supporting Actor: Dev Patel, Lion (or Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Nocturnal Animals)
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences (or Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures, or Nicole Kidman, Lion)
Best Screenplay: Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals
Best Original Score: Arrival (or Lion or Hidden Figures)
Best Original Song: No opinion
Best Animated Feature Film: My Life as a Zucchini
Best Foreign Language Film: Elle (or Neruda)
Best TV Series, Drama: Game of Thrones
Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical: Mozart in the Jungle
Best TV Miniseries or Movie: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (or The Night Manager)
Best Actor, Drama: No opinion
Best Actress, Drama: Caitriona Balfe, Outlander
Best Actor, Comedy: Gael Garcia Bernal, Mozart in the Jungle
Best Actress, Comedy: No opinion
Best Supporting Actor: Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager (or pick a winner from the People v. O.J. Simpson face off—John Travolta vs. Sterling K. Brown, ding!)
Best Supporting Actress: Olivia Colman, The Night Manager
Best Actor, TV Miniseries or Movie: Courtney B. Vance, The People vs. O.J. Simpson (or Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager)
Best Actress, TV Miniseries or Movie: Sarah Paulson, The People vs. O.J. Simpson