Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic for this week is Bookish Merchandise I’d love to Own, which does sound fun, although I have no idea what I would put up as my choices. As such, I thought I’d take this opportunity to finally post a list that I have been thinking about for a few weeks, looking at my top ten favourite films or film series that are based on books.
Adapting bestselling novels and books into movies is something Hollywood has been doing for decades, often with great success. While some adaptations that failed, either due to the original source material or general problems with production, many have turned out to be exceedingly epic films that I have deeply enjoyed. This is something I have been thinking of a lot lately, not only because some great books have film adaptations coming out soon (Bullet Train by Kotaro Isaka and The Gray Man by Mark Greaney for examples), but also because I just saw the latest Fantastic Beasts film. So, as I tend to when my mind wanders along this track, I started researching and listing all the various films that are based on books and tried to work out what my absolute favourites were. This turned out to be such a fun list to pull together that I just had to share it up on the blog.
To appear on this list, the relevant film or series needs to be based on a book in some shape or form. In trying to work out what are my absolute favourites I am looking at a few things, general quality of the film, how much I enjoyed it as well as whether it is a good adaptation of the source material. In a few cases, I may not have read the books the films are adapted from, but I have still included them here due to the quality of the film. I decided to exclude films based off comics from this list as I already have a few lists for this (an MCU list, a DC Comics movie list, and an animated comic movie list). Despite this, I still ended up with a ton of potential entries for this list and I had to do a ton of cutting to get it down to 10 with my usual generous honourable mentions section. The end result is pretty interesting and I think that it does a good job reflecting which film adaptions are my favourite.
The Hobbit trilogy
While this series does have some issues, and probably shouldn’t have been broken up into a trilogy, I had fun with it and there are some good moments throughout these movies. I think that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug were really well done, its just a shame that The Battle of Five Armies didn’t live up to its full potential and really dragged the whole trilogy down.
Hannibal Lector trilogy
I had to mention these dark thrillers somewhere on this list as they are pretty damn iconic and cool. Based on the works of Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Red Dragon are pretty awesome films with some brilliant performances from Anthony Hopkins and others (Ralph Fiennes in Red Dragon is extremely good). Also, mad props to the Hannibal television show, if I do a list about television shows based on books, that will make the cut for sure.
James Bond films
I have already mentioned in a previous list how much I loved the James Bond films, but I had to include them here as well. Based on the novels by Ian Flemming, this whole series is very fun, and there are some truly impressive and iconic films here.
A Beautiful Mind
I have a lot of love for this excellent bio film, based on the book by Sylvia Nasar. Filled with a great cast, this Russell Crowe led film is moving and clever, and contains a fantastic twist halfway through, especially if you don’t know too much about the person it is based on.
Top Ten List:
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
I don’t need to do a lot of selling for this first entry. If you are reading this blog than you probably know that The Lord of the Rings trilogy is easily the best and most epic adaptation of a novel ether done. All three films are pretty damn incredible with a perfect cast and will leave you breathless at every turn. Also, do yourself a favour and check out the extended editions at some point, it may be long, but it is very much worth it.
Harry Potter series
Who doesn’t love it when their favourite childhood series is turned into an impressive movie series? The Harry Potter films are extremely good films by themselves, and they also serve as outstanding adaptations of their source materials. Filled with a great combination of new actors and some of the best British actors of all time, these films were an absolute institution for very good reasons and are so much fun to watch.
The Hunger Games series
Another young adult series I had to include, The Hunger Games films are some of my favourite dystopian movies to watch and they were done so perfectly. Serving as brilliant and powerful films with an excellent story of survival and revolution, The Hunger Games films are excellent adaptations of the original novels, while also adding some original touches and perspectives. All four films are unique in their own way (Catching Fire was my favourite), and I personally think that the creators made the right decision breaking Mockinjay into two separate movies. I have rewatched these films multiple times and with an adaptation of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes also on the way, this appears to be a series that will keep on giving.
The Princess Bride
Not including The Princess Bride on this list, INCONCEIVABLE!!! Based on the novel of the same name by William Goldman, this was an incredible film, and I can still remember the first time I watched it. This was mainly because I was a stupid teenager who thought that a movie called The Princess Bride wasn’t going to be manly enough for me. Well just like the kid in the movie, I quickly got extremely attached to its brilliant and hilarious story, as well as the unique and powerful cast it contained. This film has some of the most iconic and impressive lines and moments in film history: “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die”. It also has in my opinion, one of the best swordfights in film history, which is just so damn epic. This is an incredible and distinctive film adaptation and is a much watch for pretty much everyone.
I probably would have been eaten by vengeful dinosaurs (and their fans) if I hadn’t included Jurassic Park on this list, and for good reason. Based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton, this film is awesomeness personified thanks to its outstanding graphics and very clever story, both of which have more than stood the test of time. This film essentially ensured an entire generation and beyond fell in love with dinosaurs and is easily one of my favourite films of all times.
The Shawshank Redemption
Get busy living or get busy dying, but make sure you watch this iconic film at least once in your life. Probably the best adaptation of a Stephen King book ever made (ok technically a novella, but who’s counting), The Shawshank Redemption is an insanely moving and powerful film about life in a prison. Easily one of the most recognisable films of the 1990s, this outstanding film has more than stood the test of time and is a brilliant and utterly addictive adaptation.
The Great Escape
From one film about prison life to the greatest escape story ever, we have the classic 1963 film, The Great Escape. Based on the 1950 book of the same name by Paul Brickhill, The Great Escape is a stirring and outstanding World War II film that tells the tale of a mass escape from a German POW camp. Starring some truly brilliant actors, like Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson and so many more, this film quickly grabs your attention with its catchy music and entertaining plot. Inspiration and moving in equal measures, this film will keep you entertained right up to its dark end is a must watch for all fans of a classic war movie.
If you’ve seen the Forrest Gump film, you already know why its on this list. The surprising and heart-warming tale of a remarkable man in 20th century America, this is a film like no other that features Tom Hanks at his very best. While the plot does differentiate significantly from its source book by Winston Groom, this is such a brilliant film that gets a ton of love from me.
Another film that wildly differed from its original source material but still turned out great is my favourite Christmas film, Die Hard. Loosely based on Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing Lasts Forever, Die Hard is easily one of the greatest action films of all-time, launching the action career of Bruce Willis and introducing the world to Alan Rickman (before throwing him off a tower). There are so many awesome and cool moments throughout this film, many of which are taken in part from the novel, and I will automatically start watching Die Hard any time it is on.
The final book on this list is the fantastic, feel-good film Slumdog Millionaire. I have always really loved this touching film which is loosely based on the novel Q&A by Indian author Vikas Swarup. Combining a tragic life story with an iconic game show (the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? for the film version), this is a touching and very captivating character-driven film featuring an excellent cast of Indian actors. This is such an incredible film to watch, and I cannot recommend it enough.
Well, that is the end of this latest list. As you can see, there are some brilliant film adaptations of great books out there, and I think that the above does a great job of reflecting my personal favourites. This is probably a list I will come back to in the future, especially as there are more and more film adaptations of novels coming out every year. In the meantime, let me know what your favourite films based on books are in the comments below.