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And the Oscar Goes To… These Canterbury Classics!

February 26, 2024

By Christa Protano

You know what “they” say: the book is always better than the movie. We couldn’t agree more, but we still enjoy seeing if the latest film adaption is worth the hype. Take Anyone But You, for example. Hollywood’s newest rom-com just set the record for the highest-grossing live-action Shakespeare adaption. And while it’s not necessarily Oscar-worthy, there is something to be said about the success of movies that take their cue from literary works. This year, there are eight films nominated for Academy Awards (airing March 10th) that are based on books, and there have been countless others that have taken home the coveted golden statue over the years. Here are a dozen worthy of a watch and a page turn.

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Based on Jane Austen’s first literary masterpiece, 1995’s Sense and Sensibility won Emma Thompson an Academy Award for Best Writing for an Adapted Screenplay. In addition to Thompson, actors also include Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, and Hugh Grant in this story of love, romance, and heartache experienced by the Dashwood sisters.

The Great Gatsby (1974 & 2013)

Take your pick from a dashing Robert Redford or a smoldering Leonardo DiCaprio—either way you’ll find an Oscar-winning version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s world of excess, romance, and scandal. Both received two Academy Awards each, but we’d except nothing less from a work often described as the “Great American Novel.”

Along with the 11 short stories from Fitzgerald’s collection Tales of the Jazz Age, our Word Cloud Classic also includes “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”—a story that inspired another notable adaption that received 13 nominations and won three golden statues.


Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

If vampire movies are your thing, we suggest picking up this modern reprint of the blood-sucking OG that started it all. Complete with an award-winning cover design, this Word Cloud classic tells the story of Bram Stoker’s celebrated Count Dracula and his eerie nocturnal lifestyle. The eponymous film won three Oscars for Best Costume Design, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Makeup.

Les Miserables (2012)

Packed with star power the likes of Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and more, this cinematic musical drama took on Victor Hugo’s timeless classic about poverty and justice amidst the backdrop of the French Revolution. The movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and won three for Best Supporting Actress for Hathaway, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, and Best Sound Mixing. If you are brave enough to take on its 1,200-plus pages of prose, we suggest our jewel-toned Word Cloud Classic with it’s foil-stamped cover.

Hamlet (1948)

While Hamlet has been taken on by many a leading man—Ethan HawkeMel GibsonKenneth Branagh to name a few—it is Laurence Olivier’s portrayal and direction of the Prince of Denmark that earned Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Picture. It remains the only direct adaptation to win such awards to this day. At the time, The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther wrote, “But now the matter is settled; the filmed Hamlet of Laurence Olivier gives absolute proof that these classics are magnificently suited to the screen.” Will this version prove to be or not to be your favorite? That is most certainly a question.

Oliver! (1968)

“Please sir, I want some more.” Those memorable words from the movie musical Oliver! helped this Charles Dickens adaptation go on to win FIVE Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Score. If you’re not familiar with Dickens, this Canterbury Classics edition collects some of his most famous and beloved works—including The Adventures of Oliver Twist—so you can experience his unique and compelling writing. 

Little Women (2019)

While Greta Gerwig received critical acclaim for her direction and adapted screenplay of Louisa May Alcott’s coming-of-age novel, she didn’t get to take home any gold at the 2020 Academy Awards (hmmm…this is all sounding vaguely familiar.). Instead, the film’s Oscar went to Jacqueline Durran for Best Costume Design. Nevertheless, this version of Little Women is worth the watch thanks to its ensemble cast, including Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timotheé Chalamet and more.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

If you’re in the mood for a little Tim Burton come Oscar weekend, we suggest his adaption of Lewis Carrol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. With Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Helen Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, this whimsical adventure garnered two Academy Awards for best achievement in costume design and art direction.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence (1993)

With a Pulitizer prize-winning claim to fame, you would think that the film adaptation of such an applauded work would receive some accolades, and 1993’s The Age of Innocence did just that. While the movie was directed by mastermind Martin Scorsese and starred the great Daniel Day-Lewis, it was the period costumes worn by Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder that took home the prize. If you’re a fan of The Gilded Age, don’t sleep on this classic tale that is brimming with passion and scandal in the Golden Age of New York’s upper-class society.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

We all know the movie and storyline well. But have you ever read the original novel? Influenced by the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, L. Frank Baum created this classic story and fantasy using the dream of young Dorothy on her journey home to demonstrate the theme of good vs. evil. The film’s iconic score and original song “Over the Rainbow” won the film its two Oscars.

Wizard of Oz

The Hours (2002)

In 2003, Nicole Kidman took home the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her portrayal as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. The movie was adapted from Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel of the same name, and is a tribute to Woolf’s timeless classic Mrs. Dalloway, which explores themes of feminism, mental illness, and self-realization.

Wuthering Heights (1939)

Last but not least, the classic black-and-white tale of lovers Catherine and Heathcliff won the coveted award for best cinematography way back when. In the novel Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte weaves passionate story of love lost, found, and avenged that is brimming with unconventional relationships and a complex story structure sure to keep you turning pages until its final word.

Wuthering Heights

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