PBS Books' Big List of Book To Movie Adaptations
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Books and movies go together like Atticus and Scout, like Harry and Ron, like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. To celebrate this magical combo– and just in time for the Oscars– here are some of our favorite book-to-movie adaptations.
Our list includes several new movies just hitting theaters (A Wrinkle in Time, Love, Simon), as well as two of this year's Oscar nominated adapted screenplays (Mudbound, Call Me By Your Name), plus a handful of can't-miss book classics that launched equally classic film counterparts. The only thing missing is the popcorn. Enjoy!
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio
R.J. Palacio's 2012 novel has become a classic, a meditation on kindness and friendship that spawned a movement among teachers, librarians and readers of all ages. This year's movie release starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson, and Jacob Tremblay is a wonderful adaptation, capturing all the heart and wonder of Auggie Pullman and his family.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, Madeleine L'Engle's fantastical story of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin cosmic adventure to find Meg's missing scientist father is one of the most beloved stories of all time. Similarly, Ava DuVernay's Wrinkle in Time film is one of the most eagerly anticipated adaptations in years. The film's cast is as beloved as the book, including Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon as the guiding "Mrs." characters.
Mudbound, by Hillary Jordan
Hillary Jordan's prize-winning debut novel tells the story of two Mississippi families -- one black, one white -- who confront the brutal realities of prejudice, farming and friendship in a divided World War II era. The film directed by Dee Rees stars Carey Mulligan, actress/singer Mary J. Blige and Jason Clarke. Mudbound has 3 Oscar nominations this year, including a Best Supporting actress nomination for Blige, plus Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.
Call Me by Your Name, by Andre Aciman
Aciman's novel is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. One of the most buzzed movies of the awards season, the film has garnered Academy award nominations including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and a Best Actor nomination for Timothée Chalamet.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs
Ransom Riggs' wildly inventive novel features a mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage, and a strange collection of very curious photographs. The 2016 film version was directed by Tim Burton and features are an amazing cast including Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Chris O'Dowd, Allison Janney, Judi Dench, and Samuel L. Jackson.
Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon
In Nicola Yoon's hugely popular young adult novel, a teenage girl (played by Amandla Stenberg in the 2017 film version,) is unable to leave her home because she has an immunodeficiency that makes her allergic to almost everything. However, her life changes for the better when she begins to communicate with the boy next door (played by Nick Robinson).
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
In the wake of her mother’s death, her marriage in trouble, author Cheryl Strayed made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—alone. Strayed's 2012 book is unforgettable, and Nick Hornby 2014 screenplay sparkles. Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern both turn in Academy Award-nominated performances, as Strayed and Strayed's mother, respectively.
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Selznick's beautiful book is half novel, half illustrated story of Hugo, an orphan clock keeper who lives an undercover life in the walls of Gare Montparnasse railway station in Paris in the 1930s, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. The 2011 film, Hugo, was directed and co-produced by Martin Scorsese received 11 Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture), more than any other film that year.
Paper Towns, by John Green
Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. But after an all-night adventure together, Margo disappears. Paper Towns was another New York Times bestseller for Green, winning the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery. The movie adaptation of Paper Towns was released in Summer 2015 starring Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne, and directed by Jake Schreier.
The Circle, by Dave Eggers
The Circle is the world's most powerful internet company. When Mae Holland is hired to work there, she at first feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. What begins as a story of one woman's ambition and idealism quickly transforms into a story of suspense, exploring themes of memory, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge. The 2017 techno-thriller film stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and John Boyega, and was directed by James Ponsoldt with a screenplay by Ponsoldt and the book's author, Dave Eggers.
The Silence of The Lambs, by Thomas Harris
Director Jonathan Demme's masterful adaptation takes on Harris's iconic serial killer, the brilliant and twisted Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Silence of the Lambs took home most of the major Academy Awards for 1991--best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, and best adapted screenplay.
To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Harper Lee’s era-defining novel of tolerance and compassion is perhaps the most important American novel, and the 1962 adaptation directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Gregory Peck and as the hero Atticus Finch is equally beloved.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli
One of the most anticipated adaptations of 2018 is Love, Simon, which brings to life Becky Albertalli's teenage protagonist, Simon Spier. a closeted gay teenager in high school who is forced to balance his friends, family, and new email pen pal Blue--and the blackmailer threatening to out him to the entire school. The movie version stars Nick Robinson, Josh Duhamel, and Jennifer Garner.
No Country For Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy's powerful novel tells the story of Texas border town where rustlers have given way to drug-runners and small towns have become free-fire zones. The film version, written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, stars Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and in one of the most chilling movie roles of recent memory, Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh. It won four awards at the 2008 Academy Awards – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (for Bardem) and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly
Hidden Figures tells the incredible untold story of Katherine Jonson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – brilliant African-American women working at NASA who served as the brains behind the launch into orbit of astronaut John Glenn, a stunning achievement that turned around the Space Race. The visionary trio crossed all gender and racial line and inspired generations. Hidden Figures received three 2017 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Spencer, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Zookeeper's Wife, by Diane Ackerman
Ackerman's novel is inspired by the incredible true story in which Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages after their zoo was bombed. The poignant film released in 2017 stars Jessica Chastain in in the moving role of zookeeper Antonina Zabinski.
Room, by Emma Donoghue
Room is home to five-year-old Jack, but to Ma it's the eleven-by-eleven-foot prison where she has been held against her will for seven years. Room is a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child. The 2015 film earned a Best Actress win for Brie Larson, and nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Martian, by Andy Weir
Weir, a self-described space nerd, wrote his breakthrough novel about a U.S. space crew that is forced to evacuate their maiden visit to Mars after a dust storm overtakes the crew and ship. Presumed dead and left behind, astronaut Mark Watney awakes from the storm to find himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive. The film, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, is just as riveting as its print counterpart, and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk
In his electrifying and wholly original debut novel, Chuck Palahniuk's estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job after he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret boxing matches in the basement of bars. Directed by David Fincher, and starring Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, and Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club Fight Club was one of the most controversial and talked-about films of the 1990s.
Silver Linings Playbook, by Matthew Quick
Author Matthew Quick masterfully infuses humor throughout a story that tackles the serious topic of mental health. David O. Russell's adaptation of The Silver Linings Playbook features Bradley Cooper in the role of Pat, alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker, and Jacki Weaver. The movie was nominated for 8 Oscars and won one, for Lawrence's portrayal of Tiffany.