My Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations

There are so many movies based on books that sometimes, we might see a movie multiple times before we realize that it was actually based on a book! Usually in these cases, the movie has become something bigger than the book ever was. On the flip side, some movies have a built-in audience because of the wide popularity of the book. The Broke and The Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday topic this week fits in perfectly with the idea behind this blog, because it honors what I love about various forms of storytelling. My Top 10 for the week consist of the Top 5 (plus an honorable mention) Movie Adaptations where I have read the book, and the Top 5 (plus an honorable mention) Movie Adaptations where I have not read the book (but the movie makes me want to!). Here’s my list in no particular order.

Top 5 Movie Adaptations of Books I Have Actually Read

1. Pride and Prejudice

book-movie-pandpThis is a case where I saw the movie first, LOVED IT, then read the book. Though I appreciate the content from the original source, I have to admit, the movie make me swoon much more! Of course, it helps to see it all play out before your eyes. And is just me, or does Mr. Darcy seriously become more attractive to us as the viewer the moment he becomes more attractive to Lizzie? How do they do that?!

2. Sherlock Holmes

book-movie-holmesthink I have read all of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but if not, I’ve read at least a large portion of it. From my first Holmes story I was really intrigued with the character of Sherlock and his amazing skills of deduction. When I heard about the movie version with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, I was beyond excited. Some people seemed to doubt it would work, but I felt it would be a perfect match, and I believe it was! Though it is not a strict adaptation in terms of using one of Doyle’s stories, all the elements of a great Sherlock mystery are there for both the first and second of this Holmes franchise.

3. The Hunger Games


I started reading The Hunger Games in August 2011 after hearing a couple of recommendations for it as well as seeing hype for the upcoming movie. Since I was out of town and not constricted to my regular work schedule, I was able to fly through the first book in two days. I could barely stop reading. The same was true for the next two, even when I did have to go back to regular life schedule. I had high hopes for the movie, but I also knew a lot could change. Overall, I liked what they did with the film, though there was a little more I would have liked to have seen. However, Catching Fire looks like it is going to be completely amazing and I can hardly wait!

4. Catch Me If You Can


Despite some differences with the actual account of Frank Abagnale and his conning schemes, this movie really serves his story justice.

5. Little Women


I completely adore both the book and the movie, and feel the 1994 movie does a good job with highlighting the main elements of the novel. And hello, Christian Bale as Laurie?! What’s not to love?

Honorable Mention: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

lionwitchwardrobeI completely love the book, and I love how the Disney movie really brought the story to life. I think all the children were perfectly cast, it’s just too bad that Prince Caspian was not quite as good.

Top 5 Movie Adaptations of Books I Haven’t Read (Yet!)

1. The Prestige


I have listened to part of The Prestige the novel in audio book format, and the only reason I stopped was due to the fact that while listening from Overdrive (the app/program my library uses to borrow audio books) I was apparently streaming the book with my phone’s data and totally eating it up. I definitely intend to finish one day, as I was intrigued by both the differences and similarities between the book and movie. But regardless of the fact that I have not finished the novel, I feel like the movie does capture the spirit of the book. It is also just a fantastic film that really got me to recognize Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker.

2. Emma


Though I enjoy the Gwyneth Paltrow version, I absolutely love the more recent BBC minis-series version, starring Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller. And though I have not read the book yet, since there are many similarities between it and the Gwyneth version (though this one is more detailed), I feel it must be fairly true to the book.

3. Phantom of the Opera


Technically the movie is based on the musical based on the book. I have not read the book and am not sure how much the musical and movie hold true to it, but the movie is pretty close to the musical (which I saw on Broadway in New York when I was in college, scratching an item off my bucket list!). Joel Schumaker gets a lot of flack for many of his directional efforts, but Phantom is a beautiful film to watch and listen to. And it makes me more curious about the original story!

4. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


The movie is such a fun romp, and though greatly condensed from the book, it was fortunate to have the author of the book as a screenwriter. So while I have not the book for comparison yet, I feel comfortable saying that the spirit of the movie is much the same as the book.

5. A Beautiful Mind


I first saw this movie in my high school psychology class and fell in love with it. It’s beautifully shot, and the story is powerful as well. Though I have not read the book, I know of some of the differences, especially in the portrayal of schizophrenia. Schizophrenic hallucinations are based on hearing things and if I recall correctly, even smelling things, but not so much seeing things. For film, however, this had to be adjusted. I definitely want to read the book though, as schizophrenia is a subject that has fascinated me since watching this film.

Honorable Mention: The Return of The King

book-movie-kingAll these movies are great, albeit very different from the books based on what I have been told. I find The Return of the King to be a very powerful conclusion to the franchise, even with its ridiculously long and screenwriting-rule-breaking ending.

What book-to-movie adaptations are your favorite? And have you actually read the books? 

30 Responses to My Top Ten Best Movie Adaptations

  1. I really enjoyed The Hunger Games, I’m glad they made a good movie out of the book. Soo excited for Catching Fire.

    I definitely like the Emma (1996), but like you I much prefer the more recent BBC mini series. I like the more youthful depiction of Emma and I love the Emma and Knightley relationship here where they seem more at ease with each other. Their constant bickering were humorous.

    • I haven’t seen the BBC version yet but I would like to. After watching Star Trek Into Darkness, I understand the Cumberbatch fandom!

    • Isn’t C. Nolan just the best? The book, or at least what I have heard of it so far, is interesting as well, though it is a little different from the movie.

  2. Great list!! I loved The Hunger Games and read it lightening quick too-just watched the movie again last night (I think daughter getting sick of me always picking it). I love the book Emma- never saw the BBC version and really want to-I thought there P&P was even better than the movie version.

  3. I’d mention “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The book’s good and the I thought the movie was pretty good too. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it though. I didn’t know “The Prestige” was based on a book! I love that movie.

    I’m gonna try to eventually read The Lord of the Rings since I’ve seen all of the movies.

    • It’s been so long since I’ve seen the movie To Kill a Mockingbird I don’t really remember my thoughts on it. I’ll have to watch it again sometime. Thanks for coming my blog, Ryell!

  4. Ah, Pride and Prejudice was so good!
    I loved the Narnia movies too. Except Prince Caspian, but I also must note that it was my least favourite of the books.
    My husband has the Sherlock Holmes books, but I haven’t read them. I did quite like the movie, though. Hopefully, it will work for me in reverse.

  5. Such great film choices! So many films that I love too (and so glad that you are a Hitchhiker fan! I think the books are so awesome though, I hope you read them soon! :)) And I too have to recommend the miniseries of P&P – the 1995 one! And it seems like the critics didn’t like the Phantom of the Opera musical movie, but I don’t understand why not- it is gorgeous and so emotional!

  6. I loved the Sherlock Holmes movies! I really like the way they did the action scenes with Sherlock seeing the most probable outcome in his head beforehand, and acting accordingly. Plus… I mean gosh, you just can’t go wrong with Robert Downey, Jr. In anything. Ever.

    Oh oh oh and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was one of THE most enchanting movies I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. Lucy is so fudgin’ adorable I can’t stand it.

    And of course I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy of movies. I mean, I could probably quote them as they play in the background at this point. (It’s a good thing DVDs don’t wear out like VHS use to.)

    I haven’t read any of these books, so shameful.

    • I loved how they did that with the action sequences too! And cute little Lucy! It’s amazing to see how much she’s grown up now! And yes, I too am ashamed I haven’t read LOTR yet!

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