17 book-to-film adaptations that are worth the watch

Mar 3 2022, 5:00 pm

For those who like to read and watch, we’ve got a treat for you. These are seventeen of the best book-to-film adaptations. With our readers in mind, we’ve included classics like Little Women, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Atonement, to newer books like Room, The Devil Wears Prada, and Crazy Rich Asians. 

Dune by Frank Herbert

Since its release in September last year, Frank Herbert’s Dune has set several box office records grossing more than $400 million in sales. The epic science fiction novel turned film is set in the far future and stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, and Oscar Isaac. It’s the third and most successful adaptation of the novel and has received ten nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Room by Emma Donoghue

Released in 2015, the adaption of Emma Donoghue’s novel stars Brie Larson, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Room follows Joy Newsome and her five-year-old son Jack, held captive in a shed they call Room. Their abductor is a man named “Old Nick,” Jack’s biological father, who kidnapped Joy seven years prior. The film is emotionally impactful and feels almost like a true story. 

Rumour has it that Larson studied greatly for the role, isolating herself in a room without a phone or internet for a month and following a strict diet to get an idea of what her character would have been going through. 

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

A classic and one of our all-time favourite movies. Ken Kesey’s novel was adapted for film and hit the screens in 1975 with an all-star cast including Jack Nicholson, Danny DeVito, and Louise Fletcher. The film scooped up numerous awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Actress at the Academy Awards, and many others at the Golden Globes and BAFTAs.

Set in a psychiatric hospital in Oregon, the film follows several key patients and staff members, primarily Randle McMurphy (Nicholson) and Nurse Ratched (Fletcher). 

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe, Hidden Figures is an inspirational movie about the women who worked at the Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia, in the 1960s. They’re not just women in a male-dominated field; they’re African American women fighting against racial injustices. The film is based loosely on the nonfiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly and has received various awards and nominations. In the mood for something motivational and uplifting? We highly recommend it.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

High fashion, cut-throat culture, and gossip are at the core of this must-watch drama adaptation of Lauren Weisberger’s novel. The film follows Andy Sacks, a struggling writer in New York City who gets an assistant job at Runway magazine working for powerful magazine Editor-in-Chief, Miranda Priestly (who we’re sure is based on Anna Wintour). The Academy-Award nominated film stars Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Stanley Tucci. 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Stephen Chbosky’s coming-of-age novel was adapted into a movie in 2012 and starred Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller. Logan plays a teenager named Charlie who struggles with clinical depression and PTSD. Chbosky wrote an accurate account of mental illness in his novel, which was later played well by Lerman in the movie. As he grows older and starts his freshman year of high school, he makes friends with Sam and her stepbrother Patrick (portrayed by Watson and Miller). 

Emma by Jane Austen

Another delightful classic on our list, Emma by Jane Austin has been enjoyed by millions around the world. The movie adaptation is stunning, with a cast including Anya Taylor-Joy, Miranda Hart, and Bill Nighy. Just like the 1815 novel, the film follows Miss Emma Woodhouse, a young woman living with her father who amuses herself with matchmaking and meddles in the romantic lives of those closest to her. It’s charming at best and worth seeing just for the costume design, which was nominated for an Academy Award. 

Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

One of our favourite Hollywood duos, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, star in this brilliant adaptation of Matthew Quick’s Silver Linings Playbook. The romantic comedy is based in Philly and follows Patrizio “Pat” Solitano Jr (Cooper), a young man with bipolar disorder, and a widow called Tiffany Maxwell (Lawrence). The two form an unlikely bond, and their relationship blossoms over the course of the movie. Robert De Niro does a great job in a supporting role.

House of Gucci by Sara Gay Forden

A sensational story of murder, madness, glamour, and greed. It all happened under the infamous House of Gucci in the 70s-90s. Sara Gay Forden’s scandalous nonfiction book was the inspiration for House of Gucci, which hit the big screen in November last year. Reviews have been mixed, and members of the Gucci family have had their say, with Patrizia Gucci telling The Associated Press, “They are stealing the identity of a family to make a profit, to increase the income of the Hollywood system.”

This one is worth watching for Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, the costumes, and the hair and make-up. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The seventh film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and perhaps the best yet. Released in 2019, this version stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, and Florence Pugh, and was nominated for six Academy Awards. Just like the 1868 novel, the film follows a similar theme, chronicling the lives of the March sisters, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth, as they come of age in Concord, Massachusetts.

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

We’re still swooning over this 2018 adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s romance novel. Set between New York City and Singapore, the film stars Constance Wu, Henry Golding, and Gemma Chan. It was the highest-grossing film of the 2010s, making over $238 million at the box office. The movie follows Nick Young (Golding) and his girlfriend Rachel Chu (Wu) on a trip to Singapore for a wedding where Rachel meets Nick’s mom and is met with the cold shoulder. Richly atmospheric with fashion to die for, Crazy Rich Asians is visually stunning. 

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Do you love the outdoors? Have you ever dreamt of taking off on a solo hike on one of the world’s many wondrous trails? Let Cheryl Strayed take you there in this incredible adaptation of her memoir set on the Pacific Crest Trail. The book was released in 2012, and shortly after, Reese Witherspoon picked up the rights to the movie, which was released in 2014. 

Witherspoon played the part of Strayed, who takes off on a 1,100-mile solo hike, looking back on hardships that led her to the trail.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story ​​by Ned Vizzini

Heart rendering and uplifting, the adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story is beautifully pieced together. Starring Emma Roberts, Keir Gilchrist, and Viola Davis, the film follows a sixteen-year-old named Craig Gilner (Gilchrist) who decides to go to the hospital to seek out psychiatric help. He’s registered to stay on the adult ward, where he meets and interacts with the other patients over a week-long stay. 

A brilliant writer, Vizzini, who often wrote about his struggles with depression, died by suicide on December 19, 2013, in Brooklyn, New York, at the age of 32.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

No stranger to the writing game, Palahniuk has penned 19 novels, 2 which have been adapted to film, and 2 that have been announced for adaptation. Fight Club is a cult classic about an insomniac office worker and soap salesman who form an underground fight club that evolves into more than they imagined. The film stars Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter and has been ranked by many publications as one of the greatest films of our time. 

Atonement by Ian McEwan

A gorgeous romantic war-drama film starring Kiera Knightley, James McAvoy, Saoirse Ronan, and Vanessa Redgrave, Ian McEwan’s Atonement follows a crime and its consequences over sixty years. The film, which opened at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2007, won the Oscar for Best Original Score and was nominated for many others. Rex Reed of The New York Observer said the film was “everything a true lover of literature and movies could possibly hope for.”

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Directed by Angelina Jolie, the adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s nonfiction book is tremendous. The film follows American Olympian and Army officer Louis “Louie” Zamperini and chronicles his life as he survives in a raft for 47 days after his bomber ditched in the ocean during the Second World War. Zamperini is eventually captured by the Japanese and sent to a series of prisoner of war camps. The movie stars Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson, and Garrett Hedlund and won a host of awards.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

The film that leaves us with a craving for pasta, a deep desire to practice yoga and meditation, and a dream to lay on a beach in Bali. Elizabeth Gilbert’s outstanding memoir was adapted for the screen in 2010 and stars Julia Roberts in the lead. We follow Gilbert as she divorces her husband, takes a year off work and follows her heart to Italy, India, and Bali, where she finds herself. The film received mixed reviews, but it’s still one of our favourites. 

The book also inspired a sequel with an introduction from Gilbert called Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, in which others share their adventures which were sparked after reading her memoir and watching the movie. 

Sean LoughranSean Loughran

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