2020 was a strange year for movie viewing, but there were still some excellent stories that graced our screens. Some of this year’s Oscar nominees are based on beloved books and others told stories all their own. And now, just in time for awards season, all of them are available to stream at home. As you catch up on all of the nominees and make your predictions, we recommend pairing these audiobooks with your favorite films to get even more out of your viewing experience.
And the nominees are…
Oh, Emma. She means so well! If you’re looking for another well-intentioned female protagonist who’s a little lost and a little meddling, but has a lot of heart, look no further than these three listens. Try Playing with Matches by Hannah Orenstein, Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.
If you’re looking for more stories about family, memory, and aging parents, these three powerful audiobooks will make you laugh, cry, and call your loved ones. Give Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson, A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, or No One Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb a listen.
Judas and the Black Messiah
Whether you want to learn more about Fred Hampton and the Black Panther party or read a contemporary story of life on Chicago’s South Side, these books will deepen your understanding of the time, place, or people featured in this emotional film. Check out Power to the People: The Black Panther Speeches by Fred Hampton, Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, and Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump.
Craving a glitzy Hollywood drama after a year without movie theaters? These audiobooks have glamorous awards ceremonies, chaotic movie sets, and feisty leading ladies to keep you entertained. Read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Delayed Rays of a Star by Amanda Lee Koe, and Josephine Baker’s Last Dance by Sherry Jones.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the jazz world with one of these evocative works of fiction that captures the spirit and rhythm of the music. Listen to Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan, Jazz by Toni Morrison, Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje.
From the classic novel that inspired the film (My Antonia by Willa Cather) to an award-winning tale of immigration and political intrigue, these books tackle big questions about belonging, otherness, and identity in America. Fans will enjoy Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha and Native Speaker by Chang-rae Lee.
Nomadland is part stunning depiction of the American Southwest, part indictment of increasing economic inequity. If you want to look at work culture in another part of the world or live vicariously wander through the desert, there’s an audiobook for you. Try Nomadland by Jessica Bruder, There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura, Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.
One Night in Miami
After you watch this film, you’re almost guaranteed to want to know more about the larger than life men who come together in that hotel room. These books are a great place to start. Read Blood Brothers: The Fatal Friendship Between Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable, and My Brother, Muhammad Ali by Rahaman Ali.
Promising Young Woman
These stories about consent range from a feminist revenge dystopia to an empowering YA novel about seeking–and obtaining–justice. Each is an important and powerful piece of the picture in the #MeToo moment*. Listen to Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston, The Power by Naomi Alderman, Know My Name by Chanel Miller.
*trigger warning for sexual assault in each of these books
Sound of Metal
Ready to immerse yourself in the wild world of heavy metal and hard rock? From a rock ‘n’ roll memoir to an award-winning story collection about an aging punk musician, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and Acid for the Children by Flea and Patti Smith will leave your ears ringing. Haben Girma’s memoir, Haben, tells the story of a life is very different from that of a heavy metal musician, but it’s also about someone exceedingly ambitious defying others’ expectations.
The Trial of the Chicago 7
True crime dramas are more than pure entertainment; they can also be a great way to learn about history. If you’re looking for more niche historical events told in page-turning format, these books are for you. Read Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, Miami and the Siege of Chicago by Norman Mailer, and The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein.
Can you think of any pairings for 2021 Oscar-nominated films and audiobooks?
Let us know in the comments below!