More often than not, movies adapted from novels are disappointing. Perhaps it’s impossible to capture the complexity and nuances of a 300-page (or longer) novel in two hours.
Once in a while, however, a film does justice to the book, such as “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and “The Descendants,” both of which made it to my list of favorite adaptations. In a rare occasion, the film is better than the book, such as “Crazy Rich Asians.”
I chose my top 15 book-to-movie adaptations based on how well the directors interpreted the novels in film. The movie may not be 100 percent faithful to the book, but it successfully preserved the novel’s essence.
For example, fifth on my list is Alfred Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train.” Hitchcock changed the ending of Patricia Highsmith’s excellent thriller, but overall, the movie captured the book’s spirit.
Top 15 Book-to-Movie Adaptations
Here are my 15 favorite book-to-movie adaptations. See how this list stacks up against your own list.
1. “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1962, directed by Robert Mulligan; novel by Harper Lee)
2. “A Room with a View” (1985, directed by James Ivory; novel by E.M. Forster)
3. “Pride and Prejudice” (1995, miniseries, directed by Simon Langton; novel by Jane Austen)
4. “A River Runs Through It” (1992, directed by Robert Redford; novella by Norman Maclean)
5. “Strangers on a Train” (1951, directed by Alfred Hitchock; novel by Patricia Highsmith)
6. “The Silence of the Lambs” (1991, directed by Jonathan Demme; novel by Thomas Harris)
7. “The Age of Innocence” (1993, directed by Martin Scorsese; novel by Edith Wharton)
8. “Snow Falling on Cedars” (1999, directed by Scott Hicks; novel by David Guterson)
9. “The Painted Veil” (2006, directed by John Curran; novel by W. Somerset Maugham)
10. “If Beale Street Could Talk” (2018, directed by Barry Jenkins; novel by James Baldwin)
11. “True Grit” (2010, directed by the Ethan and Joel Coen; novel by Charles Portis)
12. “The Descendants” (2011, directed by Alexander Payne; novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings)
13. “Revolutionary Road” (2008, directed by Sam Mendes; novel by Richard Yates)
Note: I’ve updated this post, first published on my old blog on June 18, 2014, with several new picks.