Lately, I’ve been reading a lot. I recently read a book by Joe Hill (who happens to be the son of my favorite author, Stephen King). The book was called “Horns,” and the movie version is coming out this Halloween. Books are notoriously difficult to adapt into good movies, so I got to thinking about my favorite book-to-film adaptations.
Note: I only included movies based on books that I have read.
“Misery,” based on the book by Stephen King
“Misery” was the first book I ever read by King. I was 10 years old, and I’ve been hooked since. Movies based on King books are usually absolute rubbish, but “Misery” was spot-on. Kathy Bates as Annie Wilkes was perfectly, horrifically terrifying. The movie was slightly less brutal and violent than the book (if you can imagine that), but it was still an absolutely wonderful adaptation.
“Catching Fire,” based on the book by Suzanne Collins
The second in “The Hunger Games” trilogy, “Catching Fire” absolutely nailed the book. I love the trilogy but wasn’t crazy about the first movie. I thought “Catching Fire” was incredibly true to the book, though.
“Stand By Me,” based on the short story “The Body” by Stephen King
King may be my favorite author, but his short stories are, in my opinion, better than his novels. He doesn’t have time to run out of steam and throw in one of his “meh” endings. “The Body” is one of the most well-written things I’ve ever read, and the movie version was perfect.
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” based on the book by J.K. Rowling
I am a huge “Harry Potter” fan, and although I enjoy each movie, some of them are better than others. I seem to be in the minority of fans who adored “The Prisoner of Azkaban.” It’s actually my favorite adaptation of the series. Director Alfonso Cuarón captured the whimsy and mystery of the series. It’s in “Prisoner of Azkaban” where things start shifting from cute and adventurous to dark and scary, and the movie represented that so well.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” based on the book by J.K. Rowling
The first part of “Deathly Hallows” was boring, but it kind of had to be. It was more of a setup movie that just had to happen in order for the second part to be so awesome. The second part of “Deathly Hallows” gave me chills and, if I’m being honest, left me in tears. It was perfect.
“Jurassic Park,” based on the book by Michael Crichton
I tackled “Jurassic Park” for the first time when I was in the fifth grade. I’ve probably read this book five or six times since then. The film changed a lot of things about the book, but not in bad ways. Crichton had the tendency to get a bit technical with his writing, and the movie adaptation of “Jurassic Park” was able to cut that down and focus more on the adventure and suspense of the story.
“Gone with the Wind,” based on the book by Margaret Mitchell
This is another film adaptation that changed some things around, but for the most part, they were good changes. I absolutely love this movie, and it’s actually a rare instance where I like the movie better than the book.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” based on the book by Stephen Chbosky
I didn’t fall madly in love with this book. I read it just about two years ago and simply could not relate to any of the characters. I rented the movie not expecting much, but I was actually surprised at how much I liked it. The lead actors (particularly Ezra Miller, who played Patrick) portrayed the characters perfectly. The story was true to the book, and it ended up being a movie that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.
“Interview with the Vampire,” based on the book by Anne Rice
In high school, I was obsessed with Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles.” I rented the 1994 adaptation of “Interview with the Vampire,” expecting to be royally pissed off. Tom Cruise was NOT whom I envisioned for my favorite vampire, Lestat DeLioncourt-but I ended up absolutely loving the way he played him. Brad Pitt was great as Louis, and Kirsten Dunst was the perfect Claudia. I wasn’t crazy about Antonio Banderas as Armand (he was little more than a teenager in the books), but the movie was a very good adaptation.
“The Haunting” (1963 version), based on the book “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson
This book. This movie. Ah! So the 1963 movie “The Haunting” is, to date, one of the scariest movies I have ever seen in my life. What makes it scary is that you never see what is haunting the inhabitants of Hill House-you just hear it, feel it. It’s terrifying. I’m currently rereading the book after not having read it in over a decade, and I had forgotten just how scary the book is. They changed a few minor details in the film but captured the tone, feeling and characters of the book with perfection. Let’s not talk about the 1999 version of the movie, which was an absolute travesty. I like to pretend that it doesn’t exist.
There you have it, my top 10 favorite book-to-film adaptations. Here is what social media is saying about their favorites-what would you add to this list?
- Lori G., Illinois: ”‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘The Crow’ (ONLY the original), all of the ‘Harry Potter’ books, ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘East of Eden,’ ‘The Green Mile’ and ‘Giant.'”
- Josh G., Tennessee: ”‘Jaws,’ ‘The Godfather,’ ‘Misery,’ ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.'”
- Monica B., Pennsylvania: ”‘The Color Purple.'”
- Kayleigh B., Tennessee: ”‘The Hunger Games’/’Catching Fire,’ ‘The Fault in Our Stars.'”
- Kelly D., Georgia: ”I’m sorry, but-‘The Notebook.'”
- Kathleen C., Tennessee: ”‘Stardust,’ ‘Clueless’ (as a retelling of ‘Emma’), ‘Romeo + Juliet’ (1996 version), ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.'”
- Ashlyn G., Illinois: ”‘The Fault in Our Stars’, ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Divergent,’ ‘City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments),’ ‘The Notebook,’ ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ‘Forrest Gump,’ the ‘Twilight’ series, ‘Chronicles of Narnia,’ ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘The Princess Bride.'”
- Krysten B., Tennessee: ”‘A Clockwork Orange.'”
- Daniel S., Tennessee: ”‘The Never-Ending Story,’ ‘The Princess Bride,’ ‘Ponyo,’ ‘The Fellowship of the Ring,’ ‘Jurassic Park.'”
- April S., Tennessee: ”‘The Green Mile.'”
- Amy J., Tennessee: ”‘Charlotte’s Web.'”
- John P., Tennessee: ”‘A Time to Kill.'”
- Courtney R., New York: ”‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘A Time to Kill,’ ‘Smilla’s Sense of Snow,’ ‘Sense and Sensibility.'”
Natalie Green is a Chicago girl living in Chattanooga with her husband and their 4-year-old daughter. When she’s not working full time outside of the home, she enjoys reading, writing, singing, zombies and running. From zombies. And also beer. You can stalk her blog, Mommy Boots, or follow her on Twitter @mommyboots; or you can email her directly at [email protected]. She also has an (Im)perfect Parenting Facebook page. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.