Book-to-Film Adaptations: Our Picks for Best — and Worst

No matter where you sit on the books-to-film bandwagon, from the books are always better perspective to the standing in line at every premiere fan, you must admit: some adaptations are better than others. Way better. To help with your potential Thanksgiving weekend viewing — because what’s better than watching books, if you can’t be reading them? We give you our list of the best — and the worst movie adaptations.


Favorite Romance: Jane Austen’s Oeuvre: Austen’s wonderful books have been adapted for the screen time and again. But there are a few standouts that can be watched as many times as you may pick up Pride and Prejudice for a re-read. In particular the six-hour PP adaptation from 1995 that stars your boyfriend and ours, Colin Firth, is swoon worthy and worth the time investment. Trust us. If you’d like a modern take on some of Austen’s work, Clueless and Bridget Jones’s Diary cannot be beat. (Also, if you spend some time with Bridget, you get more Colin Firth. So.)

Favorite YA: Sure, our beloved The Hunger Games is an obvious choice, as Jennifer Lawrence may actually be The Greatest. But we submit to you, Twilight: New Moon the movie is pretty great. We know Twilight is divisive, in book and movie format. But RT’s DJ considers New Moon the movie to be a big success. Though he argues that New Moon the book is the weakest of the set (thanks to too much Jacob Black — we totally agree), this film works on many levels. Well adapted, pretty and with a fantastic score, what’s not to like?

(Runner up:  Baby-sitter’s Club: Ann M. Martin’s series has won fans the world over (including several RT editors, ahem … Stacey McGill forever) and the movie is as much fun as the books. Seeing Kristy, Maryann, Claudia and Stacey get up to antics with their adorably difficult charges will bring you back to your youth — and have you digging around in your mom’s basement for your books.)

Favorite Thriller: The Firm It’s the novel that turned John Grisham into a household name. (Many bibliophiles, like your RT team, prefer his actual debut A Time to Kill, but most of us first heard about him thanks to this thriller set in a powerful but mysterious — and ultimately dangerous — law firm.) The movie adaptation is notable for starring Tom Cruise, and because it fixed the ending of the novel, which puzzled some.


Worst Mainstream: You’ve got to be in the right mood, sure, but tearjerkers, Lifetime movies, and more certainly have their place — especially when you’re prepared. And that’s what went wrong with the film version of Jodi Picoult’s  My Sister’s Keeper. The weepy ending, which had one character dying and helping another via organ donation — a central theme of the book, as one sister was conceived specifically to help the cancer-stricken older sister — was totally changed for its cinematic version. Fans were not pleased, to say the least.

Worst Classic: The Great Garsby (2013) had such potential! Leonardo DiCaprio (the rake who will reform once he meets us). Baz Luhrmann writing and directing! Gorgeous costumes! And yet. The movie was hard to get through (one RT editor gave up the ghost before the halfway mark), with gimmicks and a distracting score drawing attention away from Fitzgerald’s gripping storyline. Sure, it won an Oscar — for costume design.  

Worst Romance: Anything adapted from a Nicholas Sparks book. Seriously, how much can you punish people for falling in love? Every film adapted from his work, aside from maybe The Notebook, has been lackluster (even The Lucky One, sorry, Zac Efron. We’d prefer to watch High School Musical. Again.).

What’s your favorite movie adaptation? Which movie did you have trouble finishing? What are you watching this weekend? We want to know it all, sound off below!

Tags: , , , ,