Thanks go to Heather of Nerdy by Nature for the fantastic topic idea!
For the most part, I am a “read the book before I see the movie” person. That is, of course, if I know it’s an adaptation. And for four out of five of these, I absolutely read the book first, but my number one book-to-movie was from my childhood, and I didn’t realize it was based on a book until many years after I fell in love with the movie.
5. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Not only was this a great adaptation of a really excellent book, the casting was spot on. Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Marsha Gay Harden and Laura Linney – all of them playing their parts to perfection. I was so psyched up for this movie when it came out, I went to the theater by myself to see it.
4. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest by Ken Kesey
This one isn’t an easy watch by any means, but it is as powerful as the source material. The characters really draw you in, and the cruelty of mental health care in the not so distant past becomes impossible to ignore.
3. The Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
For me, Stephen King adaptations are more miss than hit – it’s hard to distill several hundred pages into less than two hours. The Shawshank Redemption manages to avoid a lot of those issues both because of the brevity of the source material and the length of the movie. In fact, the movie version manages to make the story even more powerful with some new plot points, and it’s done well enough that you may not even realize what parts were just added for the film.
(and if you don’t already know what I’m talking about, I’m not going to be the one who reveals that little secret.)
2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This is a book I sought out deliberately once I knew a movie was being made of it, and I thought that at least the first book-to-movie translation was pretty damn excellent.
- The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
When I was young, I rented this movie over and over, but it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I read the book for the first time. It’s beautiful, terrifying and heartbreaking all at once, and I still watch it regularly. If I had to guess, this would be my most-watched movie of all time, and it holds up.