Sunday, August 7, 2011

Top Ten Book Movies....

So, there I was taking a 5 min mental health break at work and I decided to cruise some of the blogs my friends like reading and I came across the blog of a new author, Jennifer Hillier, who had a post about her top ten favorite movies based off novels and the idea caught fire in my mind! Come on, I'm a movie buff and I read a lot. Are you seriously surprised that I'm enthusiastic about this idea!!

But, being a movie buff, I can't just spit out a bunch of movie titles. After all, there are so many great (and not so great) movie versions of books. But the rules here are very simple: I can only include movies based on novels I've ACTUALLY READ. So, a great movie like, Shawshank Redemption, is out because I never read the story it was based on. Let's see if I can actually make it to ten!

10) Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling - While I did have some problems with the pacing of the film (it came across like a series of vignettes and not a school year in the life of Harry Potter), the movie managed to capture that sense of awe & wonder that is part & parcel of being a child and that the books had in spades. For me, it's what made the books so enjoyable to read.

09) Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams - Reading this series of books is taking a trip into a sci-fi wonderland built on complete and utter nonsense. A feat that I thought would be impossible to bring to live-action film. This movie proved me wrong. Now, I grant you the dry British style humor didn't really carry over to American audiences, but I still LOVED the movie.

08) Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - In every book-to-movie translation, there are ideas that have to be dropped for many reasons. Watching the movie, I was amazed at how the filmmakers managed to retain so much of the core philosophy of the book with just a fossil (get it?) of the story line. And despite the media hype over the special effects of the movie, I was very relieved that the story had just as much importance as getting the dinosaurs as photo-realistic as possible.

07) LOTR: Fellowship of The Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien - Unlike the other two movies which mostly descended into a pattern of walking, fearfully waiting for major battle, inspired speech to dispel fear, major battle, and repeat, the first movie did exactly what the first book did: Make you fall in love with the Hobbits and their way of life. Pulling you into their world through kindness and affection and then gripping you with fear as that world is threatened. It was awesome!!!

06) The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown - This movie was basically a carbon copy of the book. Since the book was so awesome, the movie was therefore just as awesome. There's nothing like a good religious conspiracy to get the blood pumping!!!

 05) Noble House by James Clavell - This is probably the longest book I've ever read without it being assigned in some class. The incredible depth of detail that Clavell poured into that book was masterfully reproduced in the movie. (Granted it's a made for TV movie that was split over 3 nights, but it was such an amazing work I had to include it!!)

04) The Dark Half by Stephen King - As this blog proves, I like to write. And given my predisposition to the Sci-Fi & Fantasy genres, I had come up with the idea of writing something that becomes real, but Stephen King did an EXCEPTIONAL job with this book and the movie really captured that spirit. It's one of the few movies that EVER creeped me out.

03) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis - When I heard that this book was being made into a movie, I thought it would suck. There was no way a human being could portray the multi-faceted psychological landscape of the main character. Then I watched the movie and it was like I was watching the book play out before my eyes. I was riveted. This was also my introduction to Christian Bale, who soon became one of my FAVORITE actors.

02) Interview With A Vampire by Anne Rice - This book was recommended to me by the chaplain at my college. Yes, that's right. A man of God recommended a vampire novel to me. And I was with Anne Rice when she made it publicly known that she disapproved of the movie and the casting. Then I WATCHED the movie & I was blown away. The movie captured the book so well it was startling. And, I still owe Tom Cruise an apology for doubting his ability to play Lestat. I just wish the other movie in this series had been done as well.

01) Silence of The Lambs by Thomas Harris - This movie introduced my all time favorite movie villain, Dr. Hannibal Lector, to the rest of the world. And while the movie modified certain details (as they all do), it did a fantastic job of capturing the soul of the book and the style of Hannibal himself. This movie is by far my all time favorite adaptation!

Honorable Mention:
A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson - While it couldn't find a spot on my top ten list, this movie definitely deserves an honorable mention. Again, the movie captured the creepiness of the novel, but it also managed to perfectly display the escalating frustration of the main character, a normal blue collar worker, who has to deal with an exceedingly bizarre series of events occurring in his life. This is probably my favorite Kevin Bacon movie!


  1. Good list. I've only read The DaVinci Code, but I've seen over half of the films.
    My list is at my Monday 8/1 post.

    Tossing It Out

  2. The Island and Repo Men were great adaptations as well.

    How about a 10 worst book to movie adapations? Sniper comes to mind immediately, that book was _begging_ for a screenplay, and when it came they got rid of or changed all the best parts.

  3. Ooh, the DARK HALF. I have to rent that one again, I loved the book but it's been a long time since I've seen the movie!

    Great list. And great call with AMERICAN PSYCHO - forgot about that one!

  4. Thank you, Arlee!

    Planb, you have no idea how difficult it was to get these 10 down. I kept adding movies that I loved only to realize I had never read the book/story it was based on. Top 10 Worst book adaptations??? Hmm.. Intriguing idea...

    Jennifer, The Dark Half is by far my favorite Stephen King movie. (And I just got another idea for a blog post! Top 5 (or 10) Stephen King movies!) Yeah, American Psycho is one of those under-the-radar classics, absolutely fantastic but rarely remembered.

  5. I have a bit of a problem in that, if I know it's based on a book, I always want to read the book before seeing the movie. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment, as I seem to almost always be disappointed that way. But then again, on rare occasion, the excellent ones are always that much more excellent.

    One surprising one that comes to mind is the (admittedly later) book adaptation of Return of the Jedi. I remember it giving more insight to the final battle with the Emperor, showing more of Luke and Vader's thoughts and inner struggle.

    Also, I'm too much of a nerd for my own good, sometimes. :)