My Top 10 Book-to-Film Adaptations

Ever since I was a little girl, books have been my life. They transport me to other places when I am forced to stay where I am and gave me people to grow up with, even though I was an only child. Since I hold books to such a high standard, my fear is equal with my excitement when I find out a favorite book has been turned into a movie or television show. With my favorite book of all time, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, coming out with a new adaptation later this month, I am very nervous. I thought I would try and combat my nerves by thinking of all of the amazing adaptations that did not let me down. While many adaptations completely missed the mark (*cough* Percy Jackson) these are the ones that I think completely got it right and I will continue to watch over and over again until I have subconsciously memorized every word.

 

*Side Note: Please keep in mind that while plenty of my favorite movies are adaptations, such as the Wizard of Oz and the Sound of Music I will not be including them as I have not read the source material and I will only be including books where I have both read the book and seen the movie. Also, while 10 Things I Hate About You and She’s the Man are great movies, Shakespeare adaptations would have to be a whole other list entirely, so I will not be including those either. *

 

  1. 1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

    Arguably the best book-to-movie adaptation to come out of the past decade, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky. It follows a quiet boy named Charlie throughout his life-changing first year of high school and the idea that you only need a few special people in your life in order to feel seen. What I think makes this movie so amazing is the rare instance where the author of the book had almost complete control of this movie. Until this year, Perks was the only book that Chbosky every wrote as he was primarily a screenwriter. He was able to write the script for his own book and even direct the movie. This is tied as my favorite book-to-movie adaptation and it is truly almost perfection.

  2. 2. Looking for Alaska (2019)

    This is a recent release, but it is just so good. Based off the novel of the same name by John Green, Looking for Alaska is a Hulu miniseries that follows Miles “Pudge” Halter in his first year at a boarding school in Alabama with his new group of friends, including the elusive, mesmerizing, yet troubled Alaska Young. Making this book a miniseries was the best decision they could have made. John Green has had successful adaptations in the past, but nothing is as powerful or poignant as Looking for Alaska. I highly recommend this series and think it was incredibly well done.

  3. 3. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

    Let’s be honest, the hand flexing scene alone is enough for me to put this on my list. While I do love the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth, the 2005 one will always have my heart as it is the one I grew up with. Obviously, this is based on Jane Austen’s most famous piece of work and, in my opinion, is the best adaptation. I think the main reason I love this movie so much is two reasons: Joe Wright’s directing and the cast. Kiera Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen have amazing chemistry and every scene is so beautifully filmed that it will never fail to draw me right in.

  4. 4. Atonement (2007)

    Another Joe Wright film! I must admit, I am kind of obsessed with him and this is my other favorite, staring Kiera Knightly and James McAvoy with Saoirse Ronan in her first Oscar nominated role as Knightley’s unbearable little sister. Taking place throughout the years surrounding the second world war, two young lovers are torn apart by a lie, and how that lie continued to destroy their lives for the six decades that follow. This is such a beautiful story and I absolutely love how they were able to transform Ian McEwan’s delicate and heartbreaking story and make it come to life on the big screen. Once again, the directing and cast are superb with everything from the world’s introduction to a young Saoirse Ronan to Benedict Cumberbatch’s smaller, creepy role. It is a great film and a great book, and I highly recommend both.

  5. 5. Matilda (1996)

    One of the best children’s books of all time turned into one of the best children’s movies of all time. Based on Roald Dahl’s timeless classic, Matilda tells the story of a young girl born into the wrong family. Matilda is bright beyond her years and her family wants nothing to do with her. She finds a passion in books and school and discovers her intelligence is not the only special thing about her. This story was incredibly important in my childhood and continues to be as I grow older. I never feel as if this movie is too young for me and I think that is only one of the amazing things about this film.

  6. 6. The Princess Bride (1987)

    Based on the novel by William Goldman, The Princess Bride is the extremely rare instance of a perfect movie. This is one of the movies I have watched over and over again the most as I have adored it since childhood. I think what makes this story perfect is that it truly has something for everyone. It is funny, heartbreaking, action packed, romantic, and one of the most quotable films of all time. If you are unfamiliar, The Princess Bride is told from a grandfather to his grandson when he is home sick from school. He tells tales of Buttercup and her true love Westley who are torn apart when he is taken by pirates and presumably killed. When she is about to marry the prince, she is kidnapped, and a wild adventure begins. Like I said, this film is perfect. It is perfectly casted, scripted, directed and truly untouchable.

  7. 7. The Harry Potter Films (2001-2011)

    This one is obvious, but I have to include them anyway. As a huge fan of the books, I can acknowledge these movies' flaws, but the pure joy that they bring me outshine any mistake they may have made. I will forever admire that they hired child actors and used the same actors as they grew up, something that is almost unheard of. They never ever fail to make me smile, and for that, I will never stop watching them.

  8. 8. Sherlock (2010-2017)

    Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman is, in my opinion, one of the best television shows of all time. I have always loved the Sherlock Holmes stories and enjoyed the Robert Downey Jr. films when I was younger, but I cannot watch them anymore as they pale in comparison to this show. This show follows Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in present day London, adapting many of the famous Arthur Conan Doyle stories into a more modern retelling. This show truly keeps you on your toes and feels more like a film series as each episode is about an hour and a half. I love this show so very much, and no one is able to capture the essence of Mr. Holmes quite like Cumberbatch.

  9. 9. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

    To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of those rare books that every kid reads in school, but actually enjoys. It is a timeless tale of growing up and learning that the world is not as wonderful and care-free as it may have seemed as a child. Gregory Peck’s performance as the beloved Atticus Finch is legendary for a reason. He absolutely nailed it. Much like The Princess Bride, I look at his performance as untouchable and one of the many reasons this will forever be one of my favorite adaptations.

  10. 10. High Fildelity (2000)

    Starring John Cusack and Jack Black, High Fidelity, based on the novel of the same name by Nick Hornby, is one of the closest adaptations on this list. Following the break up between him and his girlfriend, music-obsessed Rob, with the help of his two employees at his record store, looks back at the top five heartbreaks throughout his life, wondering why each relationship ended, and if he is always the reason. Much like Stephen Chbosky, Hornby is an accomplished screenwriter and, while he was not the director, he was able to write the script for this movie. After loving this film for years, I finally read the book last year and realized that the only big change was the setting from London in the book to Chicago in the movie. Other than that, this hilarious and quotable film will always have a special place in my heart and will always remind me of the power of a mixtape.

I hope you enjoyed my list and were able to find a movie that interested you!

HCXO, Maeve