The Best Book to Movie Adaptations

In my last post I was gushing over how amazing the film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was. It truly was one of the best book to movie adaptations I have ever seen. Then it got me thinking, “What are some of the other great book to movie adaptations I’ve seen?”

I’m a big fan of seeing a movie based on a book I’ve already read. It’s always fun to check out what was done right and in a lot of cases, what was done horribly wrong. The general consensus seems to be that the “book is always better” and nine out of ten times this is true. Sometimes it isn’t even the fault of the director. It’s just inevitable that he will need to leave things out. It’s quite difficult to fit a 600 page book into a two-hour film.

But some directors manage to take all the best parts of  a novel, everything that truly make it great, and turn it into an exceptional film. Below are the films that I feel managed to be just as good as the original source.

Never Let Me Go

Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Film Released: 2010
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley
Any movie with Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield has to be amazing. So naturally Never Let Me Go is a mesmerizing, wonderfully acted film. I actually watched the movie before reading the book. Both the book and the movie are hauntingly beautiful.

American Psycho

Author: Bret Easton Ellis
Film Released: 2000
Starring: Christian Bale, Reese Witherspoon, Jared Leto, Justin Theroux, Willem Dafoe
Christian Bale IS Patrick Bateman. Ten, twenty years from now when I see Bale, I will not see Batman. I will see Bateman. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor completely become a literary character like Christian Bale did with Patrick Bateman. Overall, this movie is great but Bale is definitely the main attraction here.

The Road

Author: Cormac McCarthy
Film Released: 2009
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Robert Duvall
I recently read an article that listed books that are impossible to translate to film and The Road was on that list. I will have to  respectfully disagree. The Road was a fantastic movie and stayed true to the novel. The novel does not go into a lot of detail (the characters are not even given names). The director did not try to give the characters a backstory or make sense of the apocalyptic world they find themselves in.


Author: Roald Dahl
Film Released: 1996
Starring: Mara Wilson, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman
Matilda is the first time I can remember seeing a book I love turned into a film. And it started the trend for me where I have to watch the film based off a book I’ve read. I’ll actually consume anything that has to do with Matilda. I cannot wait to catch the Broadway adaptation here in New York.

The Joy Luck Club

Author: Amy Tan
Film Released: 1993
Starring: Tamlyn Tomita, Rosalind Tao, Kieu Chinh
This is a case where the movie is really almost as good as the book. I remember watching The Joy Luck Club a long time ago, before I ever knew it was based on a book. As soon as I found out, naturally I had to read the book. I was happy to see that the film stayed true to the book and did a great job of bringing the characters to life.

So, what are your favorite book to movie adaptations?


4 thoughts on “The Best Book to Movie Adaptations

    • I’ll definitely have to check both of them out. I’ve only ever seen the film version of The Color Purple. I definitely want to read the book to see how they compare. Also, I only read 1984, have yet to watch the film version.

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