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Top Ten Movies Inspired By Great Books

By Kristin Masters. Feb 22, 2019. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

The 91st Academy Awards are set to take place on February 24, 2019. Of course, this got us thinking about book-to-movie adaptations. Here's a look at some of our favorites, in no particular order. What would you add to the list?

  1. Atonement-1-4Lord of the Rings: The Lord of the Rings series has been one of the most successful adaptations to date, finding a strong following among a wide variety of audiences while preserving the integrity of Tolkien's exceptional literature.
  2. Silence of the Lambs: Thomas Harris' psychological thriller captivated readers, and it found new life on the big screen. The award-winning film starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins was only the first of Harris' novels made into movies.

  3. Atonement: The Oscar-winning adaptation of Ian McEwan's masterpiece starred Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Saoirse Ronan. The film opened the 64th Venice International Film Festival, making then 35-year-old Joe Wright the youngest director to open the festival.

  4. Jurassic Park: Though other Michael Crichton novels have found their way to the theater, Jurassic Park set a new standard for suspense movies. And, we love dinosaurs.
  5. Chocolat: This tale of romance and drama brought together an outstanding cast and reminded us why we have such a love affair with chocolate. Adapted from a novel by Joanne Harris, the movie won five Oscars
  6. Harry Potter: We can't pick just one of the movies! These adaptations of J.K. Rowling's whimsical and charming novels truly inspired people of all ages to discover a love for reading.
  7. The Thief Lord: Cornelia Funke consistently thrills readers with tales of magic and adventure. The 2006 adaptation of The Thief Lord delightfully brought all that to the big screen.

  8. Casino Royale: But really any James Bond movie will do! Seven different actors have played the world's favorite British spy, and Ian Fleming's books contain all the elements for awesome adventure stories: intrigue, danger, gadgets, and even a little romance.

  9. The Notebook: Perhaps we're partial to Nicholas Sparks because he comes from our neck of the woods. But The Notebook stole our hearts. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams delivered stellar performances in the film version.
  10. The Da Vinci Code: Dan Brown was runaway success with this book, and the movie certainly didn't disappoint anyone. Tom Hanks, ancient conspiracy theories, and plenty of action really made this adaptation a hit.

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Can't get enough movie tie-ins with the Oscar buzz upon on? Read on!

The Books That Made Oscar-Winning Movies

Every solitary professional novelist, whether she is aware of the fact or not, is a kind of trial balloon for the movie industry. Before studios spend millions of dollars—sometimes hundreds of millions—on actors, directors, crew, locations, distribution, and more, they prefer to have proof that a particular story resonates with an audience. Successful plays are often adapted, with movies like Driving Miss Daisy and Hamlet being notable Best Picture winners of this sort. But prose, in the form of memoirs, nonfiction books, novels, and short stories, appears to be the most fertile ground for Hollywood when it comes to seizing the next big idea.

Hollywood  studios have long been savvy when it comes to literature, keeping their ears to the ground to best snap up production rights to novels and memoirs, sometimes entering high-stakes bidding wars to score a good title. (More often than not, rights to a book are purchased, and a movie is never made.) The gambit often pays off: some of Hollywood’s most beloved and awarded films, like The Godfather and Gone With the Wind, started as books. Here are the kinds of books that the industry has a way of turning into silver-screen gold.


One hardly needs a recommendation to be pointed in the direction of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series or Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. But there is a tribe of meritorious and masterful novels that are often upstaged by their Oscar-winning films, that warrant recollection. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje’s Booker-winning tale of trauma and redemption in World War II, is a notable example. There’s the National Book Award-winning novel From Here to Eternity, another World War II tale and its author, James Jones’s, whirlwind first book, that was also  honored by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the 20th century. Also included on that list is Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, a Pulitzer-awarded tale inspired by the likes of Huey Long. It went on to be filmed as a noirish masterpiece in 1949.

More famous titles like the German novel All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque, inspired the movie that made a trenchant exploration of the traumas and disappointments the West faced following World War I. For those who want a great, Best Picture-creating novel, but want to avoid the topic of war, Ken Kesey’s ebullient sanatorium tale One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Laura Z. Hobson’s stirring story of anti-Semitism Gentleman’s Agreement make superb options. And lovers of both film and literature can find a superb delight in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, adapted from Daphne du Maurier’s lovely gothic treasure. Read more >>

Kristin Masters
Master Content Brain. You think it, she writes it, no good thought remains unposted. Sprinkles pixie dust on Google+, newsletters, blog, facebook, twitter and just about everything else.


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