True stories adapted for television and movies are renowned for being fascinating for viewers – giving a richly rewarding experience for those who know the details of the tale, and providing an introduction to those that want to discover it for the first time. There are also some incredible movies, often those that come with ‘awards season buzz’, that film fans don’t realise are actually adapted from books. Here you’ll discover our collection of the top five non-fiction books that inspired Hollywood adaptations.
1. The Big Short (2015)
Michael Lewis is the author of The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, the book that inspired the film starring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. In fact, the financial journalist turned non-fiction author has written three books which have been adapted for the silver screen: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game and The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine. The latter is considered one of the best trading books of all time and the film it inspired won an Oscar in 2016 for Best Adapted Screenplay.
2. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The Sylvia Nasar-penned biography of American mathematician, John Nash, was transformed for the big screen with Russell Crowe playing the role of the Nobel Prize winner. The fascinating story follows Nash’s career and his path to winning the prize, including his personal battles with schizophrenia. The film was awarded four Oscars at the 2002 ceremony including Best Picture and Best Director for Ron Howard.
3. Goodfellas (1990)
Based on the book, Wiseguy, written by Nicholas Pileggi, Goodfellas was directed by Martin Scorsese – the same duo who teamed up for Casino, based on the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas. Starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta, the film follows the story of Henry Hill (played by Liotta) and his life as part of the mob. At the 1991 Academy Awards, Pesci won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito.
4. Schindler’s List (1993)
This historical drama follows the story of German businessman Oskar Schindler who, during the Holocaust, saved the lives of over a thousand Polish-Jewish refugees. The book the film was inspired by was written by Australian writer Thomas Keneally and was called Schindler’s Ark. This breathtaking film won seven Oscars at the 1994 Academy Awards and starred Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler and also Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley. Those awards included Best Picture and Best Director for Stephen Spielberg.
5. The Social Network (2010)
This hit film starring Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake and Andrew Garfield was based on the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich. The book and film both follow the stories of the Facebook founders, including Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. The film won three Oscars at the 2011 Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin.