Friday, February 22, 2008

Fiction will win at the Oscars

In The Independent, Boyd Tonkin points out that whoever picks up the statuettes at Sunday night's Oscars, literary fiction is likely to be the biggest winner.
Whoever makes the teary speeches at the Oscars on Sunday, this year – as every year – fiction will win. With the Best Picture category staging a tussle between Ian McEwan (Atonement), Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) and Upton Sinclair (There Will Be Blood, but in 1927 simply Oil!), Alice Munro joins their company in competition for script and acting awards. Her New Yorker story "The Bear Came Over the Mountain" became Away from Her. Under other headings, the novels whose celluloid offspring will vie for glory range from Marjane Satrapi's graphic tale of growing up in revolutionary Iran, Persepolis (animated feature), to Ron Leshem's soldier's tale from Israel's front lines, Beaufort (foreign-language film).

Cynical insiders have a simple explanation of why movie moguls so love the plot of a good book. The studio lawyers will know who made it, and who owns it. Far better to pay the odd fat cheque to writers or estates for rights to unmade movies than risk stepping in the snakepit of lawsuits that can surround an "original" storyline.

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