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Some of the best book-to-movie adaptations have been released in the last decade and thanks to the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, there are more book adaptations on the way.
With so many films taking their inspiration, characters and plots from some of the most successful books, it’s no surprise that some make the transition to the silver screen better than others.
Whether it’s a period drama, a family film or even a thriller, when it’s done right, there is nothing better than seeing your favourite book brought to life on screen. The best book-to-movie adaptations introduce brand new readers to novels they may have read before, because after watching adaptations, some viewers are then inspired to delve into the original material.
So be inspired to lose yourself in these transporting storylines, however you prefer to enjoy them. Here we share our pick of the best book-to-movie adaptations ever…
Best book-to-movie adaptations ever
Emma by Jane Austen
Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of this regency classic has all the elements that made the novel so beloved. Telling the story of matchmaking Emma Woodhouse, Anya Taylor-Joy perfectly embodies the lead role.
She is supported by the wonderful Bill Nighy as her father and Miranda Hart as the comedic Miss Bates. Together with the sumptuous costumes and settings, this adaptation is a compelling version of the age-old tale.
Shop the book – Emma by Jane Austen (Waterstones)
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
As with many adaptations, the setting in this 2016 film was changed from the UK to US, though Emily Blunt’s masterful portrayal of alcoholic divorcee Rachel is no less captivating and she went on to receive a Bafta nomination.
Though the novel holds back the crucial twists and turns from its readers for longer than the film, the dramatic conclusion and pacing is sure to draw you in.
Shop the book – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Waterstones)
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
With Oscar nominations and praise galore, Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel is a wonderful blend of the original tale with elements of the author’s second volume, Good Wives. Gerwig also helps viewers to really become immersed in the story, by reimagining it with fan-favourite Jo March as the author of the novel Little Women.
This explores her journey to creative success in more detail and also gives the film an updated feel and a sense of breaking new territory, whilst retaining the essence of Alcott’s characters and story. A charming adaptation, perfect for family viewing.
Shop the book – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Waterstones)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Sinister and psychological, Gillian Flynn’s 2012 novel made for dramatic on-screen material. With Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck taking the lead roles, this chilling plot is in good hands. Flynn herself took a huge role in adapting her novel for the silver screen and the unreliable narration, suspense and dramatic reveals that made it so successful similarly work in the film released two years later.
After Nick Dunne is accused of being involved in his wife’s disappearance, he is determined to discover what happened to her. But is he really ready for the truth?
Shop the book – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Waterstones)
The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The source material has undergone several reprints since it was first published, though the beloved 1939 adaptation stays generally faithful. Dorothy’s signature footwear is perhaps the most iconic difference, changing from silver shoes to the ruby slippers we all know and love.
The film brings to life an already imaginative story of farm girl Dorothy’s journey through Oz in a colourful, song-filled film enjoyed by adults and children the world over. The level of detail in the set and costumes is delightful and playful, keeping audiences intrigued and capturing the essence of the book.
Shop the book – The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (Waterstones)
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Just as tear-jerking as the book, the 2009 adaptation of Jodi Picoult’s novel brilliantly encapsulates one family’s unfathomable struggle. Despite shifting the focus for film audiences and the ending being a big departure from the book, the spirit of it remains.
Lead actress Abigail Breslin brings great maturity to her role as 13-year-old Anna, raised as a saviour sibling for her sick sister Kate. This story is powerful and thought-provoking, however you choose to enjoy it.
Shop the book – My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Waterstones)
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Known for giving us one of the most fashionable villains, Lauren Weisberger’s book reaches even greater heights in the 2006 adaptation. Meryl Streep’s performance as demanding fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly earned her an Oscar nomination.
The relationship between Miranda and her new assistant played by Anne Hathaway is spell-binding. Though the film’s ending is a departure from the book, the resolution it provides is utterly enjoyable to watch. This is a feel-good film with scene-stealing costumes as far as the eye can see.
Shop the book – The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger (Waterstones)