12 Book-To-Screen Adaptations That Got It Right

Whether it’s massive franchises like “Harry Potter” or stand-alone films like “The Sun Is Also a Star,” Hollywood has been cranking out book adaptations like clockwork in recent years. If you’re an avid reader like us, you might find yourself especially protective of your favorite books and wanting Hollywood to stay as far away from them as possible. After all, it can be nearly impossible for an adaptation to completely live up to how we pictured the story in our heads. And of course, there’s the matter of filmmakers straying so far from the source material that the story becomes almost unrecognizable.

Over the years, there’s been both spectacular film adaptations and one’s that deserve to reside in the five-dollar bin of Walmart forever (but we won’t name names). Wondering which films are actually worth your time? Here’s a list of twelve book-to-screen adaptations that do their novel counterparts justice!

1. "The Outsiders" (1983)

“The Outsiders” will always have a special place in our hearts. It’s a classic tale that most people have to read in high school. Fortunately, it is one of those required reading books that is actually worth the read! When making the movie, director Francis Coppola made sure author S.E. Hinton had her say in the details, thus making sure the movie lived up to the iconic novel. In 2005, the movie was re-released with footage originally cut for the initial release, called “The Complete Novel Edition”, so fans were able to get an even more in-depth look into the world of “The Outsiders”.

Via @ttheoutsiders on Instagram 

2. "Anne of Green Gables" (1985)

“Anne of Green Gables” is to Canada what “Harry Potter” is to England. So it’s safe to say that director Kevin Sullivan took the adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel very seriously. Megan Fellows shines as the fiery Anne Shirley along with an impressive ensemble cast. Fans of the novel can also delight in seeing Anne’s more memorable antics being translated to screen, such as when she accidentally dyes her hair green or strikes Gilbert Blythe with a slate. While later adaptations like CBC’s “Anne With an E” maintain the heart of Montgomery’s story, the 1985 film is undoubtedly the closest to its source material.

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3. "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" (2004)

There are many reasons that the third “Harry Potter” installment is one of the most beloved by fans. With a runtime just over two hours, this story is jam-packed with exhilarating adventure. And time travel, soul-sucking dementors, Hippogriffs, and werewolves are only the beginning! Brilliantly directed by Alfonso Cuarón, the Wizarding World has never appeared more hauntingly beautiful or visually striking than in this film. While some of the later films in the “Harry Potter” franchise had to considerably trim down their lengthy source material, nearly every element of J.K. Rowling’s third novel makes the cut in this adaptation.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Their pasts are catching up with them.

A post shared by Harry Potter Film (@harrypotterfilm) on Jun 30, 2018 at 10:45am PDT

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4. "Pride & Prejudice" (2005)

The unforgettable romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy has been captivating readers since 1797. Over two centuries later, this classic love story was brought to the screen once again by director Joe Wright. We all know that Keira Knightley was born to act in period dramas and this film is truly a testament to that fact. Not only is Elizabeth Bennet one of her best roles to date, but the romantic chemistry between her and Matthew MacFadyen is undeniable. With stunning cinematography, exquisite period costumes and a heavenly score by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, even Jane Austen herself would give this adaptation her stamp of approval.

Via @prideandprejudice05 on Instagram 

5. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" (2005)

If you read “The Chronicles of Narnia'' as a kid, you probably had your own vision of what Narnia looked like in your head. But I think it’s safe to say that even our wildest imaginations could not fathom a snowy forest as beautiful as the one that Lucy Pevensie stumbles upon in this film. Not only is Director Andrew Adamson’s vision of Narnia absolutely breathtaking, but the Pevensie children are perfectly casted and carry the film with impressive acting chops. The film remains very true to C.S. Lewis’ classic tale while managing to add its own Hollywood magic.

Via @narnia.the_kingdom on Instagram 

6. "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse "(2010)

We know everybody’s got their opinion on the “Twilight Saga”, but hear us out. We’re Twihards through and through, so there’s no question that we love the movies. With that said, “Eclipse” is the superior film by far. The movie sticks to its source material without making too many deviations. The filmmakers and the cast did a fantastic job bringing to life the best installment in the “Twilight Saga”.

Via @twilight on Instagram 

7. "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" (2013)

Don’t get us wrong, the entire “Hunger Games” series were all made into fantastic films, but there’s just something about “Catching Fire” that really stands out. It stays extremely true to the book while giving the audience more insight into other characters not featured as much in the books. Also, can we talk about the cinematography when it comes to the arena?

Via @thehungergames on Instagram 

8. "The Fault in Our Stars" (2014)

Remember back in 2013 when every middle-schooler had “the world is not a wish-granting factory” as their Instagram bio? That alone should give you some indication of the insane levels of popularity that “The Fault in Our Stars” had at one point. This was a delicate film to translate to screen but ultimately it was done beautifully. 

It would have been easy for the filmmakers to turn John Green’s novel into a melodramatic love story between two sick teenagers. But fortunately for all of us, the film is honest and grounded in the harsh reality of cancer. Neither Hazel’s nor Augustus’ illness is romanticized. They are not these larger-than-life teenage caricatures. They are just two very human characters facing a devastating reality. The film’s grounded nature is ultimately what makes it equally touching and heart wrenching.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Every time I look at it, I get so excited. June 6th!! #tfiosmovie

A post shared by John Green (@johngreenwritesbooks) on Jan 3, 2014 at 6:05pm PST

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9. "Divergent" (2014)

Looking solely at the first film, it’s a great book to movie adaptation. Sure, the filmmakers took the liberty to change a few things, but the heart of the book is still there. It was awesome to see the city of Chicago brought to life on screen. Fans were also able to get more insight on the behind the scenes of the factions, too. Also, when casting this film they must have been looking for the most beautiful people in the world because wow. Just wow.

Via @thedivergentseries on Instagram 

10. "13 Reasons Why" (2017-)

We know this is a more controversial one, but let’s just talk about season one. It’s got its flaws, but it definitely holds up as an adaptation. The novel written by Jay Asher is told in two different timelines, and the show did a good job differentiating between the two. Obviously the show is significantly longer than the book, but this worked in the TV show’s favor because we got to gain insight into backgrounds of more characters than we do in the book. Plus, Katherine Lanford’s portrayal of Hannah Baker is breathtakingly amazing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Just finished 13 reasons why and I wholeheartedly recommend for many reasons. Obviously it's a great show and is entertaining, but the importance of what is said and how life can be, from others' perspectives is undeniable (I also love Tony and everything about him). Although many will watch this who are horrible people and they won't change, I hope that this really turns some people's heads - you have no idea what's going on in someone else's mind or even life and that if everyone tried a little bit harder with each other and were a bit more altruistic, life would just be that much better for all of us. #AtLeastTryNotToBeACunt - Mike #13ReasonsWhy #TVSeries #Netflix #SuicideAwareness #Poster #Teen #Drama #TVDrama #NetflixOriginal #SuicidePrevention #IAmMovies

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11. "Love, Simon" (2018)

We have nothing to say but good things about “Love, Simon"! It’s an adorable rom-com; what more do we need to say? The film is an adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens’ Agenda”. It stayed true to its source material while also taking some creative liberties to strengthen the core of the story. Even though the movie and the book are both super popular, it still feels underrated. If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, you should definitely get on that ASAP!

Via @lovesimonmovie on Instagram 

12. "Little Women" (2019)

There’s definitely a reason that this film recently received an Oscar nomination! With five previous film adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” you’d think Hollywood would be scraping the bottom of the barrel at this point. However, Director Greta Gerwig offers a fresh and modern take on this classic story. While the 1994 adaptation of “Little Women” is still much beloved, Gerwig sets her adaptation apart by using a nonsequential timeline of events. 

This allows the screenplay to explore more of the March sisters’ adult lives, as well as incorporate more elements from Alcott’s seven hundred page novel. If you’re not yet sold on watching this film, simply look at the cast list. Comprised of A-listers like Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Emma Watson, and Meryl Streep, “Little Women’s” highly esteemed cast breathes new life into some of literature’s most beloved characters.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A vital new adaptation. #LittleWomenMovie now playing in theaters.

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Happy book reading and movie watching, collegiettes!