In honor of the movie Glass Castle coming out today, I thought I would make a list of some of my very favorite movies that were adapted from books. Making a movie from a book is a tumultuous endeavor on the part of the filmmakers, particularly for beloved books. Not every book has made a successful transformation to the silver screen. When I read a book I develop the author’s world into my head and assign faces to characters. I essentially make the movie my way, in my head. Nothing thrills me quite like finding out a book I love is becoming a movie. My expectations are great, perhaps unreasonably so, but in the end, here are a few books who have lived up to my hopes.
Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Ugh I love this movie so much. In fact, I declare it my all time favorite movie. I can’t even count the number of times I have seen this version of Pride & Prejudice, especially when you factor in all the times I turned it on when it was showing on Oxygen or WE. I have seen many adaptations of Pride & Prejudice. Many. And I know that the 1995 BBC miniseries is beloved and a most accurate retelling of Austen’s novel, but there is just something about the 2005 version that triumphs over all. I think that something could boil down to two main things: (1) The cinematography is BEAUTIFUL and (2) I love Keira Knightley’s version of Elizabeth Bennet. To me she is perfect (see what I did there? Love Actually anyone?).
The Notebook (2004)
I have so many feelings just thinking about this movie. This is another movie I have seen countless times. I have also cried every single one of those countless times. I am not ashamed to get caught up into this Nicholas Spark’s romance. I read this book and did not particularly care for it, but when this movie came out I was in love. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams have such a fiery chemistry–how can anyone resist this adaptation? I also just love Gena Rowlands to pieces. I think it is a truth universally acknowledged that The Notebook is a classic.
The Hunger Games Trilogy (2012-2015)
These books were fantastic. Really a turning point in my reading, as I am sure it is for many people. That is why a movie adaptation was so very exciting, but also so very scary. I absolutely loved what the movies did (aside from being money-hungry and making them into 4 movies). I think that the quality of the movies and the attention to most of the book details makes this an excellent series of silver screen creations. Jennifer Lawrence did an excellent job playing the complex Katniss Everdeen, although I did reach a point of scream crying saturation with her. This movie franchise also endeared Woody Harrelson to me, which I never thought would be a possibility.
Let me be crystal clear here, I am referring to just the first movie. Just like the books, the first book and the first movie were outstanding. I think Shailene Woodley did a great job taking on the bad-ass Tris from Veronica Roth’s book series. I also was totally into the choice of Theo James being cast as Four. I loved the pacing of the movie and the way it was able to depict some of the more brutal aspects of the book into something digestible. I didn’t care for the latter books in the series and the same can be said for the movies, but I applaud the first in each.
Far From the Madding Crowd (2015)
Ladies and gentlemen, I declare this the most romantic movie of all time. I went to see this movie, before having read the book, at a local independent theater by myself. I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but I knew I loved period romances like this and Carey Mulligan. I think I swooned for the entire movie and then was carried home on a perfectly puffy cloud of happiness. I felt like I had just fallen in love. I have seen this movie SO. MANY. TIMES. Last winter, I think I averaged watching it once a week between HBO and owning it. I was inspired to read the book it was adapted from by Thomas Hardy. It was not an easy one for me to read. Hardy really got caught up in the nitty gritty details, but knowing where the story was going and my total devotion to the movie helped me slog to the end.
The Help (2011)
This was such a popular book. EVERYONE was reading this book when it came out and it didn’t take long for it to become a movie. This movie has a fantastic cast who really did the book and its array of interesting characters justice. Emma Stone did a great job playing the endearing Skeeter Phelan. Viola Davis absolutely nailed the sweet Aibileen. Octavia Spencer played a sassy Minny (I mean that special pie scene…). Ugh, Jessica Chastain played such an insecure and vulnerable Celia Foote. I could go on, because this doesn’t even come close to finishing the amazing cast and the amazing characters they played. Great movie adaptation that lived up to the hype and the very high expectations.
Me Before You (2016)
I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of this movie adaptation. I liked the book well-enough, although I feel like I don’t like it nearly as much as most people, but I wasn’t confident that it would translate well to the silver screen. I also was so focused on Emilia Clarke as the very powerful and serious Daenerys Targaryen, that I thought it impossible for her to play a slightly silly character like Lou. I watched this movie in a hotel room with my sisters after an exhausting day and it hit the spot so perfectly. It was a perfect movie to watch with my sisters and I felt so happy that the movie turned out so well. I need to rewatch this one again, but I would classify it as a successful jump from book to film.
What movie adaptations am I missing? What are your favorite ones that aren’t on my list?