Top 5 Movies Based on Books That Won the Oscar for Best Picture

The likes of The Godfather, The Silence of the Lambs, and even an LOTR offering have previously won the Oscar for best picture!

Top 5 Movies Based on Books That Won the Oscar for Best Picture


  • A range of novels has seen illustrious movie representations that surpassed the success of the source material as well.
  • A handful of them, in the past, have gone on to win major prizes at the biggest award nights.
  • These 5 movies, based on novels, ended up winning The Oscar for Best Picture.
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The 2024 Oscar nominees are out, and among the most notable are those for best picture that are based on books or biographies, like Yorgos Lanthimos’s Poor Things, Martin Scorsese’s Killing of the Flower Moon, and Nolan’s Oppenheimer. These films, along with many others that are based on well-known novels, showed a remarkable ability to produce compelling narratives without infringing the source material in any way. 


While quite a few of these movies received critical acclaim, only some did well at Award nights, let alone the biggest of them all, the Oscars. Here, we look at 5 book-based movies that ended up taking home the biggest award of them all!

5. The Godfather

One of the greatest gifts to the world of art and culture, The Godfather is regarded as a cinematic wonder that continues to influence people of all ages. Starring Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, and Oliver Caan, the film adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel was released in 1972 by legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. 

The Godfather

The film expertly adapts the intricate story of the Corleone crime family into a captivating cinematic experience. The Godfather took home three major Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Marlon Brando), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film had eleven nominations for the Academy Awards. It continues to be one of the finest motion pictures ever made and has become an international standard for all crime films.

4. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King 

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peter Jackson’s masterpiece, is a magnificent adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s high fantasy trilogy. The final installment of the series is one of three movies to win a record 11 Oscars and the first fantasy movie to win the Academy Award for the Best Picture. 

The LOTR: Return of the King poster.

A lot of CGI, elaborate set designs, massive fights, and special effects were used in the creation of this fantasy film, which had never been done before. The world-building, lore, and expansive locations were all brilliantly brought forth in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the book. The movie opened up new avenues for fantasy films in the filmmaking industry.


3. No Country for Old Men 

The Coen Brothers’ magnum opus, No Country for Old Men, was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s spine-tingling novel of the same name. The movie is a fantastic depiction of modern-day greed, as young men sell their morals and soul for money. 

A still from No Country for Old Men.

The primary cast included Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, and Tommy Lee Jones, all of whom gave excellent performances. However, Bardem’s Anton Chigurh stands out as one of the most memorable and menacing villains in the history of cinema. No Country for Old Men is a cinematic masterpiece directed by the Coen brothers, based on Cormac McCarthy’s gloomy, darkly funny novel. 

With its intense narrative and unforgettable characters, the film secured four Oscars, including Best Picture, and cemented its status as a cult classic. 


2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991):

Another well-known movie for its iconic and distinctive antagonist is the character of Hannibal Lecter, also known as Hannibal the Cannibal. Over the years, several outstanding performers have portrayed this role, but Anthony Hopkins was by far the greatest.

Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs, a film directed by Jonathan Demme, is based on Thomas Harris’s psychological thriller. It tells the story of a young FBI rookie who is searching for a psycho murderer, but she requires Hannibal Lecter, another violent psychopath, to help her solve the case. 

In addition to receiving positive reviews from critics, the movie created history when it took home the Big Five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay.


1. Schindler’s List

The legendary Steven Spielberg’s heart-wrenching historical drama Schindler’s List is based on Thomas Keneally’s 1982 novel Schindler’s Ark. The narrative centers on German industrialist Oskar Schindler, who, although serving the Nazi party during World War II, rescued the lives of 1,200 Jews.

This film is a tearjerker and for all the right reasons. The iconic shower scene serves as a superb illustration of how the film brilliantly captures the gloomy environment and constant dread of death for Jews.

Schindler’s List is considered one of the best movies of all time.

The film, which starred Liam Neeson as the main character and Ben Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes as supporting cast members, was widely recognized as one of the best ever made. It went on to win seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director.


Written by Rishabh Bhatnagar

Articles Published: 61

Rishabh Bhatnagar is an Entertainment and pop culture journalist/editor with Fandom Wire. He has more than 6 years of experience working for multiple major platforms and is himself an avid consumer of worthwhile content. A natural storyteller, Rishabh has a unique way with words and is always looking to improve, as a storyteller, writer, and a journalist.