5 May 2017

10 of our Favourite Book to Movie Adaptations

We love books but we also love movies. We don't always love books that turn into movies but when we do we're obsessed with them. We need it to be noted that these are in absolutely NO particular order. Ranking these would likely kill us. Let's get on with it...

I did a pretty lengthy review of Gone Girl a few weeks back and I think it was pretty obvious that I value the movie way more than the book. It's a Fincher adaptation, though I think it is worth mentioning that Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay for her own book. I found with the book I disliked Amy whereas with the movie I thought her actions were pretty much justified. It's an amazing adaption that takes the book to the next level for women as antiheroes.. I mean that throat slitting scene / blood shower is just too beautiful it needed to be realized on film.

The English Patient is one of my favourite fiction novels and also one of my favourite movies. Anthony Minghella directed it and wrote the screenplay but Ondaatje remained very close to the project which is likely why it's so true to his novel. I think this movie was perfectly cast. It sparked an early and forever love for me of Ralph Fiennes, and Kristin Scott Thomas plays the most beautiful, well-spoken and tragic Katherine Clifton. I cried reading the book and watching the movie both and for people who aren't into reading enough for an Ondaatje novel, I would say the movie is a perfect substitute. It won 9 Academy Awards the year it came out, including Best Picture and Best Director so even if you don't believe me on this, you know it has to be good. I would usually complain that it's excessively long but there isn't a single scene I'd recommend they cut. 

Sofia Coppola is my favourite director, I also love Kirsten Dunst and anything written by Jeffrey Eugenides... sooo I was very into the movie. Coppola is the perfect director to handle this sort of subject because you can tell she listens to her young actors and asks for their advice, like how they would decorate their room or wear their hair. (I think the same stands for Gia Coppola and this is evident in her adaption of James Franco's Palo Alto). She's got an eye for detail that makes for great crowded set designs and elaborate costumes, and has an act for writing scripts where much of what is going on is going unsaid.

This is quite possibly the only role I like for Renée Zellweger and she's honestly EXACTLY who I imagined for Bridget Jones when I was reading the book. I talked about this book briefly in our Valentines Day special on books to help you get over a breakup, but to summarize, it's funny, honest, and realistic, which is hard to find in a rom-com. The main reason I love the movie so much more than the book (which is still great) is because I don't really love to read diary-style writing. Luckily, the author, Helen Fielding, assisted with the screenplay so the same dry, British humour and realism is translated well on film. The director, Sharon Maguire, was a good friend of Fielding's and I think this chemistry really allowed to movie to be as good as it is, as it had the potential to be really shitty. 

I love this movie so much that I was willing to read the far inferior book it was adapted from. The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal pales 1000% in comparison to the BEAUTIFUL MASTERPIECE that is David Fincher's The Social Network. It isn't my #1 favourite movie, but I do believe that it is void of any flaws. The book would have been much better it the author took a more research-based approach, instead they sort of make up a narrative that they can't actually prove word-for-word. Ben Mezrich is known for doing similar work on true stories that are easily adapted into movies (Bringing Down the House being adapted into 21 starring Kevin Spacey and Jim Sturgess). But Aaron Sorkin's script is unlike anything the book could ever be... best adaptation of all time. And I wouldn't be me without mentioning how this film was robbed of best picture are the 83rd Academy Awards. NEVER FORGET!

I found this book really confusing and hard to read. I had to stop myself multiple times and actively remind myself how the time travelling worked in order to keep reading. The movie is still a bit confusing but I think it flows better and its honestly SO good that if you don't understand fully it doesn't really matter. Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt's production company (RIP) actually bought the rights to the movie before the book was even published, and the author has said in interviews that she wrote it the whole time with the movie adaptation in mind. Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana are an amazing on-screen couple and Bruce Joel Rubin, the screen writer, did an excellent job of condensing a lengthy novel into a crazy beautiful movie. My friend Marijke and I cry always at the scene where McAdams is sitting on Bana's lap saying "I wouldn't change one second of our lives together." I didn't cry at this in the book... I think it's something about the twinkle in McAdams eye and the fireworks going off in the background. This is one where I'd recommend skipping the book and just watching the movie... multiple times. As a fun fact, it was mostly filmed in Toronto/Hamilton area for all of our fellow Canadians!

Wild is very interesting to me as a film adaption. I feel very strongly about Cheryl Strayed's memoir and on first watch of Jean Marc Vallee's adaptation I was disappointed. I felt like by only watching the movie you didn't get nearly enough detail of Strayed's heart wrenching, fascinating story that lead her to the Pacific Crest Trail. I went to see it again in theatre a week later and then completely changed my mind. I don't care too much about big-name Nick Hornby's screenplay, but I think Vallee used music in a really interesting way throughout the movie. I think the soundtrack is beautiful, but am especially drawn to the use of Simon and Garfunkel's "El Condor Pasa." Throughout the movie there are flashbacks of Cheryl's mother singing the song, clips of Cheryl humming the song while hiking, and then a bass-heavy rendition is played during a sleazy hotel encounter. Anyways, A+ use of music in a movie that has to work around the majority of the narrative being in Strayed's head.

This movie is sooooooo good. I can't get enough of it. I love to watch baby Leo DiCaprio and baby Claire Danes frolick around together speaking in iambic pentameter. My favourite thing about this adaptation is they kept the script of the original play, but if you're not into Shakespeare it doesn't even matter because the movie is so approachable. Baz Luhrmann, the director, adapted the families into mafia empires and set the whole thing in Verona Beach. They fight with guns instead of swords, etc. If you're a true Shakespeare fan you'll notice some minor plot changes, as well as some family changes for certain characters, but for the most part its true to the original play. If you like to read Shakespeare you'll love this and if you don't like to then I still think you'll love this.

Here's another one that I already wrote a lengthy review of. Never Let Me Go is an incredibly sad piece of science fiction adapted for the screen by Alex Garland. I think the reason this movie is so successful in its adaptation is because of Garland - a well-known science fiction screenplay writer (Ex Machina, 28 Days Later). The acting is also on point. I mentioned in my review that Andrew Garfield's breakdown as Tommy made me hyperventilate / sob...
This is one case where the movie is definitely better than the book. Much of the novel is from the perspective of the 5 year old boy which I didn't love. The movie still does have a lot of voice-overs from the boy, describing his surroundings, etc. but it's equally focused on both him and his mom and I found his mom's scenario to be the most interesting aspect of the story. This was an amazing 'breakout' role for Brie Larson who actually won Best Actress for this movie, and Jacob Trembley was perfect as her son. Skilled child actors still baffle me. Emma Donoghue wrote the book and also wrote the screenplay which, as a trend, I think makes for a great adaptation. Donoghue actually wrote the screenplay before the book was published, and continually rejected offers to adapt the novel until Lenny Abrahamson sent her a 10 page fan-letter explaining why the movie should be made. Donoghue advocated for him as the director because she felt like he 'understood' the novel, isn't that a cool story? She also stayed on as executive producer so she could assist with major decisions. I have a soft spot for Donoghue as she's from London, Ontario (my city!) and she fought to keep the movie filmed in Canada (Toronto). Overall I think the movie is amazing and the book could be skipped. 


  1. Wow. So we have the same taste. I love each of these (that I've seen) and want to see the rest (Gone Girl, Room, Never Let Me Go). I agree that The Social Network is underrated! Love that Trent Reznor soundtrack :)

    A couple of recent favs I would add are Far From the Madding Crowd and In Secret (based on Therese Raquin)

    1. I haven't seen EITHER of those but they're on the list now. Didn't we always know we had the same taste??? :)

    2. I looooved Far From the Madding Crowd Laura .. but I only saw the movie, I'm not really into literature before the 1940s lol. But it was such a beautifully shot film.