Every reader knows the anticipation that leads up to seeing their favorite book translated onto the big screen. Will the script stay true to the story? Will the actors and actresses resemble the characters we imagined in our heads? And let’s be honest, will the movie flat out suck? Because we’ve all been there — we’ve all felt the rush of disappointment when a movie does not live up to our expectations.
If I never had to feel that sinking feeling again, I’d be over the moon; of course, I want the same for you. So I’ve compiled a list of my 5 favorite book-to-movie adaptations! If you stick to this list, you’ll never be disappointed by an adaptation again.
- Little Women
I’m starting off strong with — dare I say it — my favorite movie. Ever. I may be slightly biased as a Barnard girl, but I think Greta Gerwig’s, BC ’06, 2019 adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved novel is spectacular. It’s an empowering interpretation of the characters and the story that so many generations know, relate to, and love. Even with dashing period costumes (which won an Oscar!) and many lines of direct dialogue from the 1860s novels, it felt refreshingly current. I think this largely has to do with the wonderful cast (I mean… Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Florence Pugh, and Laura Dern in one movie??) and Gerwig’s directing. I love reading interviews about her process and methodology for both the script and directing. She’s a genius. And I could write a whole other post about the little things Gerwig does to make this movie so special… and maybe I just will!
- Love, Simon
Based on the popular novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon is truly the best kind of teen flick a gal could ask for. It has a kickass soundtrack, up-and-coming actors that actually look like high schoolers, and amazing LGBTQ+ and BIPOC representation. This movie made me laugh, cry, and feel all warm and fuzzy inside. One of my favorite parts of Albertalli’s book is how real and lovable the characters are, and I’m so glad to say this is extremely present in the film!
- Crazy Rich Asians
Seriously, if you haven’t seen this movie, YOU are the one who’s crazy. It’s so deliciously extravagant and captures the essence of Kevin Kwan’s ultra-famous novel perfectly. The fashion, especially Astrid’s, is so good you’ll want to rewatch it just for that. The movie is the perfect visual companion to the book, which focuses heavily on the fashion and luxury lifestyles of its characters. I love that it’s a completely Asian cast and while it’s hilarious and romantic, it also delves into important topics about class and identity. It’s really just the full package, *lowers sunglasses to drool over Henry Goulding.* Enough said.
- Me Before You
You probably thought you’d never hear a book lover say “the movie was better than the book.” Well, today is that day. I’m saying it: The movie was better than the book. That may be a controversial opinion, but I thought this adaptation of Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You brought new life to the story. It’s another one with a great soundtrack, by the way, as well as some of my favorite costumes in film ever! The biggest difference between the book and the movie, though, is that Emilia Clarke is amazing as Lou. And I’m not just saying that because we have the same name! She really portrays how hard-working, quirky, and loving Louisa is, which completely transforms the story.
- To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
And finally, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is tied at No. 1 with Little Women. Coming from someone who has loved Jenny Han’s To All The Boys series since I was a wee middle schooler, this movie earns the fangirl badge of approval. It is absolutely perfect, and I actually can’t count how many times I’ve rewatched. If Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky wasn’t enough to get on board, the rest of the amazing cast should be. Lana Condor has the best facial expressions and really captures how important and emotional every moment is to Lara Jean. I know I sound like a broken record, but the costume design, soundtrack, and representation are also fantastic. And for being a Netflix film, the filmmaking is surprisingly artistic and unique, with strict color schemes, camera angles, and filters that serve the best vintage meets present-day romcom vibes ever. Even if I’ve watched it dozens of times, the iconic scenes and “woah woah woah”s never fail to make me smile. I honestly don’t know if I could choose between the book and the movie… and that’s how you know an adaptation is good!
Well folks, I hope this list of favorites helps you stay optimistic in a scary world of disappointments. Yes, I know there are plenty of other book-to-movie adaptations that have done extremely well and are fan approved (at least by the majority), but every bookish-girl is unique and so should be her list of go-to adaptations. It’s never a bad idea to have a feel-good film on queue, especially if you don’t have time to pick up the book instead. Happy watching!