Film Adaptations

Top Ten Book to Film Adaptations

Film Adaptations


It looks like I still have my mind on the movies this week, even after the disastrous Oscar nominations, so I’m taking up The Broke and the Bookish on their idea to pick a random Top Ten Tuesday topic. We’re going with my favorite movie adaptations (with links to trailers if you’re so inclined)! To clarify, I’m only choosing from the pool of movie adaptations I’ve read and I’m not a book purist. I love film almost as much as I love reading, so I’m willing to give directors license. Also, I have no idea how Kirsten Dunst ended up here three times but…so it goes.

Little Women

This is a total nostalgia pick. It’s probably not a good movie, but I was obsessed with it as a child and I’ll watch it any time it comes on TV. It also makes me a little sad because it marks the end of Christian Bale: Child Actor.

Marie Antoinette

I know, I know. You probably hate this movie. Everyone hates this movie. I LOVE THIS MOVIE. I’m a sucker for the extravagant aesthetic when it’s warranted (so, naturally, I also love Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby and Wright’s Anna Kareninina) and I can’t resist Jason Schwartzman, even when he’s Louis XVI.

Schindler’s List

I don’t know if I could handle a book to movie list without this on it. It’s near perfection.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

I’m a huge Wes Anderson fan, but this is my absolute favorite. I want to hug everything about it. Plus: Jason Schwartzman!

Gone Girl

I’m still feeling a little ragey about Gillian Flynn’s Oscar snub, which would have made her the first female nominee to adapt her own novel as a screenplay, so I’ll just say I thought it was a fantastic adaptation.

The Virgin Suicides

Oh, hey! More Sofia Coppola. More Kirsten Dunst. Could I be more predictable? This is one of those adaptions that’s not only a great film, it’s also very true to the source.


This is always my answer when people ask about my favorite movie adaptation. I loved the book, but adore the film for completely different reasons. Namely, the typing in the score and, you know, the green dress.


I’m always surprised to find that so many people have read this graphic novel but don’t realize it was made into a film. It’s in French, but just as beautiful as the book!

The Road

It’s hard to call this movie a favorite because it’s so ridiculously depressing, but it definitely did the work of capturing the mood of the novel.

To Kill a Mockingbird

This best adaptation ever? I’m constantly afraid that someday someone will try to remake this and it will ruin everything.


What are your favorite book to film adaptations? 


  • So many good ones on this list. I thought I was the only one who loved Marie Antoinette and Christian Bale in Little Women. But I hated Gone Girl (though I get why people like it). But my all time favorite book-to-movie adaptation is The Age of Innocence. My favorite Wharton is maybe The House of Mirth or The Custom of the Country, but Daniel Day Lewis is so good and Coppola is so try to the story.

    • Ohhh, that Daniel Day Lewis, I love him. He lived in my neighborhood when he was filming Lincoln and it took everything in me not to stalk.

  • Wesley

    If anyone tries to remake Mockingbird we need to like, mobilize and start petitions and all the things to make it stop.

  • I actually haven’t seen any of these except To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Women! I’d like to watch more book to movie adaptations, but I mostly watch movies with the boy and he’s often not excited about the ones I want to watch.

    • Haha, I totally know how that goes. I think I saw most of these before I was married, or I forced the husband to come along.

  • crimeworm

    I love Atonement too – and the green dress is just beautiful. As is James McAvoy. “Come back to me…” – love it! Great list, Shannon. Never seen Marie Antoinette, I must get round to it.

    • Marie Antoinette is definitely one that divides opinions, so I hope that it ends up being a good one for you! :)

  • I thought I was the only one who loved Marie Antoinette! I love the over the top gorgeousness of it. And yes, a Jason Schwartzman movie is always a treat!

  • Maggie Nambot

    I hope no one ever tries to remake To Kill A Mockingbird. I can’t even fathom how that could be a successful re-adaptation.

    • Right? It would be so sad. It’s one classic that’s been done so well already, it doesn’t need to be touched again.

  • Emily@As the Crowe Flies

    I love this list. I inevitably forget To Kill A Mockingbird when I think about my favorite books-into-film lists. And I have to eliminate any Jane Austen production from my lists because otherwise they would dominate them.

    One that frequently makes my list is The Black Stallion, which is such an incredibly beaitiful movie.

    And I’m wth you on the appreciation of “extreme aestheicsm”. I like Luhrmann’s films for that reason. I mean, if you’re going to make an adaptation but not put your own stamp on it, why bother? I thought his Gatsby and his Romeo & Juliet were great.

    • Oh wow, I don’t think I’ve seen Black Stallion since I was really, really little. I’m curious now, though!

  • Little Women is still one of my all-time favorite movies (nostalgia!) but I’ve never gotten around to reading the book. I also I loved The Virgin Suicides (although I haven’t read that book yet, either) and was really impressed with Atonement. Marie Antoinette came out when I was 16, and I have a feeling I need to re-watch it. All I remember is the beautiful costumes and being bored by the scenes of her playing with her baby in the grass.

    And I can’t help but love the Keira Knightly adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

    • Let’s be honest here…Marie Antoinette is pretty boring. But it’s really, really pretty. It also has really young Tom Hardy, which is hilarious, so it’s definitely worth re-watching.

  • I stole your list topic this week (with credit). I also live in fear of the day they decide to remake To Kill a Mockingbird. You know it will happen eventually.

  • Ha – I noticed in your graphic that Kirsten Dunst was everywhere and was going to call you out on having a secret crush on her! I’m not much of a movie person – especially these days!

  • Great list. I’m enjoying reading all the freebie lists this week and have to second the ridiculous snub of Flynn (amongst others) for an Oscar nod. P&P is one of my favorite adaptations…both!

  • kerri

    Great list! I especially loved Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone Girl.

  • Oh good list! I also love the movies (& books): Out of Africa, Sophie’s Choice, and Ordinary People. Those are off the top of my head. All killer sad. Brutal even but good! But am I dating myself … hmm

  • Little Women is my faaaavorite. I personally thought it was beautifully done! The nostalgia factor definitely helps, too. I recently heard that there are plans to remake it. (WHY?!?)

  • Nice selection of movie adaptations. I’m a big fan of the film noir adaptations, like The Big Sleep, The Postman Always Rings Twice, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, The Grifters, L.A. Confidential, Double Indemnity and I could go on and on here. I think film noir has a great ability to capture the style and feel of those old pulp novels.

    But for other styles I do enjoy Rebecca, A Clockwork Orange, Revolutionary Road, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Scott Pilgrim Verse the World. I didn’t want include some of the ones you’ve mentioned.

    PS – I also hate Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby and Wright’s Anna Kareninina with a fiery passion; they don’t capture the book the are trying to adapt.

    • I can’t believe I forgot Revolutionary Road! It’s way up there in my favorites…and one of Leonardo DiCaprio’s best performances.

  • Irene McKenna

    What a wonderful, eclectic list! I haven’t seen all these movies, but I have seen — and loved —

    Schindler’s List, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Gone Girl, Persepolis, Atonement, and To Kill a Mockingbird.

    • That’s most! Many of the others are a little older…and I might just have crushes on them because I loved them when I was younger ;)

      • Irene McKenna

        Youthful book and movie crushes are the best. ;-)

  • I was very impressed with how well Gone Girl was adapted for the screen! It was really wonderful. I also adore Fantastic Mr. Fox. I never expected to like it so much.

  • Christy (A Good Stopping Point

    Little Women is a good movie! (even though my family and I always over-dramatically shout at the end “Not empty now!”) And Atonement is one of the first films that pops into my head when I think of great book-to-film adaptations. I was skeptical when I heard it was going to be adapted, but they did a good job with the source material.

    I liked the idea of Marie Antoinette more than the movie, though I liked the movie as well. But I did like Coppola’s decision to use modern trappings, to convey the idea that for the people in the film – they are not living in history, they are living now. What book was the film Marie Antoinette based on?

    I’m also a sucker for many of BBC and Masterpiece Theatre’s Austen and Dickens adaptations, like Northanger Abbey, Emma, and Bleak House. And the 2006 Jane Eyre is very good as well.

    • I was nervous about Atonement, too. It’s one of those books that could have gone so wrong, but they managed to reveal everything really well.

      Marie Antoinette is based on the biography by Antonia Fraser, which was actually fairly well captured in the movie (for how much information is packed into the book).

  • Akilah

    The Virgin Suicides is quality–great adaptation for sure.

    • Definitely…I haven’t seen it in a few years and putting this together made me want to go back and watch it.

  • Words for Worms

    I ADORE that version of Little Women. I was about 11 or 12 when it came out and it dovetailed with the first time I read the book. I’ve seen it a zillion times and can never pass it up if it comes on!

    • I think it prompted me to read the book around that age, too…and my teacher told me I was too young! Of course, I put her in her place.

  • Anita LeBeau

    Great List! I’ll always love To Kill a Mockingbird, the movie is perfection even if it does leave out a few important things. I’ve not seen many of these.

  • LOVE Marie Antoinette!! I also love pretty much anything Merchant-Ivory ever made so Room With a View, Howard’s End, The Golden Bowl. And most of the Jane Austen adaptations. OK, so I love movies almost as much as I love books!

  • Great list! Atonement is such a great movie and actually Joe Wright I think is particularly talented at the book to movie transition. Controversially his 2005 Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Austen adaptation of all time.

  • AnnabelSmith

    I love a very faithful film adaptation like Atonement. But The Road was almost unbearable to watch for this reason. It was so true to the book I knew the utter horror of everything that was about to happen and it was a form of torture. Usually I don’t like it when a director jazzes up a book in weird and wonderful ways but Mr Fox is an exception to that rule – Wes is basically a god to me.

  • I agree with The Road- it was really well done.

  • CLUELESS ALWAYS. Can I count Clueless? It’s not just the best Jane Austen adaptation movie, it’s the best any book adaptation movie. It is the perfect mix of faithful to the idea of the book and brilliantly adapted in new awesome ways. CLUELESS.