Ever read a book so good that you wish someone made a film about it someday so you could watch it unfold right before your eyes? These 24 book to film adaptations are literally 24 such wishes granted!
Literature and cinema are the two things that make life worthwhile for all of us, and what could be better than an amalgamation of the two? I kid you not, these are some of the finest reproductions of stories from pages to film! If you’re as faithful and particular about your cinema, these book to film adaptations will surely not disappoint.
Of course my list includes the classics such as The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange and more, but there are also some additions that you may have never figured were book to film adaptations. Now, did you know that Stephen King’s book inspired both the IT films, and that Steven Spielberg submitted Schindler’s List as his university project?
Check out this list of the must watch book to film adaptations, with some interesting trivia and information about them that will make you Netflix them right now!
1. The Godfather
The greatest film ever made, and will never be upstaged by ANY. The Godfather is the true triumph of cinema and personally, is my most favourite motion picture of all time, on par with just one other film on this list. The Godfather and its sequel, The Godfather II, based on author Mario Puzo’s bestselling novel of the same name were one of the most faithful book to film adaptations in history!
Boasting of an ensemble cast featuring Marlon Brando, James Caan, Diane Keaton, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, John Cazale, Morgana King and more, The Godfather not only shattered box office records and impressed critics worldwide, it revived the mafia genre for Hollywood in the 70s.
2. The Lord of The Rings Saga
JRR Tolkien’s gift to mankind, The Lord Of The Rings is a fantasy world like no other and set the tone for many parameters of film-making, whether it was storytelling or special effects. The films are based on JRR Tolkiens extensive literary works of the same name.
Peter Jackson brought the three Lord Of The Rings films to life, which collected 17 Academy Awards from the whopping 30 they were nominated for. Truly a masterpiece, and ideal for a movie marathon! The Lord Of The Rings films were also a commercial success, being one of the highest grossing franchises in history.
3. The Silence of The Lambs
Who can forget Anthony Hopkins’ chilling yet brilliant portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter inspired from the Thomas Harris novel of the same name. Released in 1991, The Silence Of The Lambs was directed by Jonathan Demme, and starred Jodie Foster as Hannibal Lecter’s nemesis/infatuation.
The Silence Of The Lambs became one of the most critically and commercially successful book to film adaptations, winning FIVE Academy Awards in all the Big Five categories.
Stephen King’s haunting 1986 novel, It, was adapted into a film last year, and became the highest grossing horror film to be ever made. Talk about an achievement!
Not only setting the Box Office on fire, it was also vastly praised and appreciated by the critics, and loved by the horror movie fans all over the world. Personally, there is one thing I am terrified of, and that’s clowns. So, no for me.
One of the most controversial book to film adaptations, Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov’s was sadly a commercial failure, although Jeremy Irons’ portrayal of the Humbert Humbert is reason enough to watch this film.
Published in 1955, the book Lolita was a considerable taboo back in it’s time, so was the film when it was released in 1997 and if it is remade today, it shall still be considered a taboo!
6. A Clockwork Orange
One of Director Stanley Kubrick’s finest works, A Clockwork Orange is based on Anthony Burgess’ novel (surprise) of the same name. Malcolm McDowell’s brilliant portrayal of the sinister Alex DeLarge is one of my favourite characters in cinema.
A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971 is still one of the most highly revered and rated films of all time, and is a Stanley Kubrick classic, if you are someone who appreciates his genius.
7. Schindler’s List
The tragic story of Oscar Schindler, set during the Holocaust is one of the most saddening and haunting films I have ever watched, and cannot find myself re-watching it ever again. Schindler’s List was adapted for the silver screen by Steven Spielberg from Austrian author Thomas Keneally’s Schindler’s Ark, a biblical parallel drawn with Moses who saved as many as he could on his ‘Ark’.
Believe it or not, this film was so close to Steven Spielberg’s heart that he submitted it as his project film when he went back to college to get his degree!
8. The Shawshank Redemption
Yes, this is the only film that can equal my love for The Godfather, and is the most highly user rated IMDb film of all time. The Shawshank Redemption is a classic which sadly was a commercial failure, but has achieved, you guessed it right, ‘redemption’ by being universally acclaimed by one and all.
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, the two lead characters of the film, ace their parts, and yeah, interesting fact for you; Morgan Freeman’s voice became likened to God, and people wanted him to narrate bedtime stories, their autobiographies, their lives and even eulogies by him because of The Shawshank Redemption. P.S. the Brooks Was Here scene is where I cry. Always.
9. The Social Network
Well, well, well. College dropout to world’s fifth richest man, founder and CEO of the world’s largest social media platform, wields influence over some 2 billion people atleast, and is routinely touted to be a future United States President. The story of how Facebook came into being, The Social Network was adapted from the book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich.
Winning 3 Academy Awards, The Social Network from David Fincher is one of the most interesting and engaging stories to have ever made it from paper to screen.
10. Casino Royale
Ah! 007 reports for duty. The first James Bond book written by Ian Fleming, paving the way for more literary and film success over the years. Martin Campbell’s modern day adaptation of Casino Royale was also the James Bond debut of my second favourite Bond, Daniel Craig.
One of the most successful and highly praised films in the James Bond franchise, Casino Royale is fast paced, gripping and borderline brutal with the way it keeps things real. It does well to portray Bond as a newly promoted agent who is still making his bones, on his way to becoming the cold hearted assassin/spy who has almost no feelings and even less remorse.
11. Harry Potter Franchise
J.K. Rowling and the books that made children and adults believe in magic! The Harry Potter franchise, based on the literary works of author JK Rowling are some of the highest grossing films to have ever been made. It’s fan following is so vast and so demographically diverse, no matter who you are, you will know at least one Harry Potter fan.
Some Harry Potter films are exceedingly well made, while some fall short, but all the eight films in the franchise make for a deeply fulfilling journey through the world of magic.
12. Fight Club
Where do I even begin to describe this modern day art that was bestowed upon us by David Fincher! It is based on Chuck Palahniuk’s novel of the same name. Fight Club, termed a cult classic back in the day is now heralded as one of the greatest films from the 90s, would feature on any film critic and aficianado’s top list. Why?
Because the first rule of the fight club, is you do not tell people why it’s one of the greatest films ever made. YOU SHOW THEM!
SCORCESE!!!!! One of the many holy unions of Martin Scorcese and Robert De Niro that cinema was blessed with, Goodfellas is another Mafia based Hollywood classic that retains its charm to this day. It is based on the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, a non fiction account of mob guy, Henry Hill and his criminal escapades.
Alongside Robert De Niro, Goodfellas also stars one of my favourites, Joe Pesci, with Ray Liotta who plays the role of Henry Hill. Pesci won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting role for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito.
14. LA Confidential
This neo-noir film not only boasts of a fast paced, juicy plot based around LAPD officers in the early 1950s, it is based on James Elroy’s book of the same name, and is also full of an enviable roster of talent that could put a smile on any casting director’s face.
Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger, all deliver powerful performances and the film was nominated for 9 Academy Awards! Sadly, it was released in the same year as Titanic and was upstaged by it, winning just two. Kim Basinger for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Adapted Screenplay.
15. Sherlock Holmes
Guy Ritchie directs the eccentric Robert Downey Jr. in a highly self stylized version of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and manages to delight the audiences with a fun, yet impactful adaptation of the world’s most famous fictional detective.
16. No Country For Old Men
The Coen Brothers’ Oscar winning masterpiece was based on Cormac McCarthy’s novel of the same name. It starred Javier Bardem, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, earning Bardem the Oscar for the Best Supporting Actor, winning 3 more with Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Watch this for the perfect portrayal of Chigurh by Bardem that is both equally terrifying and intriguing, No Country For Old Men is boosted by an impressive performance of its entire cast and holds a 93% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
17. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Well, what can I say about a film that contributed towards making Jack Nicholson one of the only three men with three Oscar wins to their name! One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is an American classic about a criminal who successfully seeks a move to a mental institution to avoid hard labor in prison.
Directed by Milos Forman, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is based on a 1966 novel of the same name written by Ken Kesey.
18. Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Talking about mental health among teenagers, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is the story of a teen suffering from depression and his experiences of dealing with loss and death of his loved ones.
Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, the film was adapted from the novel of the same name, written by director Stephen Chbosky himself. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower holds an 85% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
20. Forrest Gump
One of the most iconic films from the 90s, Forrest Wilson is best known for Tom Hanks’ brilliant portrayal of an Alabama based intellectually disabled man with an usually good athletic prowess. Forrest Gump received six Academy Awards, making it one of most critically acclaimed films in history.
The film intertwines the titular character into some of the most iconic and defining moments of the 20th century, and is one of the most rewatchable films, I personally believe.
21. Brokeback Mountain
A stereotype and taboo shattering film starring Heath Ledger, and Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain ignited the conversation around homosexuality. Winning three Oscars, Brokeback Mountain, directed by Ang Lee was one of the boldest ever films in mainstream cinema depicting the convoluted, controversial, emotional and sexual relationship between two sheep herders in Wyoming.
Directed by Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain was nominated for eight Academy Awards, controversially losing out on the fourth one, the Best Picture award to Crash.
22. From Russia With Love
One of the most popular and highly regarded Bond films from the franchise, it was one of the more well made cinematic outings of 007. Alongside Casino Royale, From Russia With Love is one of the few Bond films to make out list of standout book to film adaptations.
The second Bond film for both Sean Connery, and the Bond franchise, From Russia With Love is a film not many Bond films have been able to match, or outperform not just when it comes to the audience, but the critics as well. It holds a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and a strong 7.5/10 on IMDb.
23. The Shining
A Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, The Shining stars Jack Nicholson and it’s assocation with legends and geniuses does not end there. The Shining makes a strong entry into our list of book to film adaptations based on brilliantly horrifying source material from author Stephen King, and directed by the genius Kubrick who also gave the world A Clockwork Orange, 2002 A Space Odyssey among others.
The Shining is universally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, holding an 87% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 8.4/10 on IMDb with Roger Ebert going on to say, “Stanley Kubrick’s cold and frightening The Shining challenges us to decide: Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust? […] It is this elusive open-endedness that makes Kubrick’s film so strangely disturbing.”
24. Pride and Prejudice
Adapted from Jane Austen’s novel of the same name, Pride and Prejudice has spawned numerous similar adaptations both on Television and on the silver screen. The 2005 version of the film is one of the more appreciated and critically praised versions, directed by Joe Wright.
Starring Keira Knightley, who was nominated for the Oscars owing to her performance as Elizabeth Bennet, alongside three other nominations received by the film. Sadly, it did not manage to win any but remains a great film to watch for lovers of the romance genre.