Movies adapted from books can often be a hit or miss, and chances are, you’ll come across A LOT of terrible ones. A lot of book lovers have given up hope on accurate book-to-movie adaptations and prefer to see them as a separate entity entirely. You’re here to find some amazing movies adapted from books, so we are here to impress!
Hopefully, the list we’ve curated can curb you from some terrible movies and expose you to some amazing ones instead.
1. Little Women
Before Greta Gerwig’s smashing success with Barbie, Little Women was what she was constantly getting recognition for. Honestly, we can see why. Greta has lovingly crafted a wonderful movie based on the beloved story written by Louisa May Alcott. She added her own twist to the story, giving it a fresh take than your typical retelling.
The story revolves around the lives of the four March sisters, each with their aspirations and ideals. We watch the four women transition from childhood to womanhood, facing challenges as they continue to make decisions for their future. It is a great movie about the bond of family, love, and expectations.
Some tears may be shed while watching this movie, so have some tissues on standby!
2. The Lord of The Rings
One of the most well-done adaptations to have graced the world of cinema, Lord of The Rings may be lengthy, but it is most definitely worth it. Plus, there are a whole lot more details and scenes in the book that did not make it to the big screen. Truly, if it were up to the bookish LOTR fans, a 10-hour movie might not even cover it all.
Understandably so, too. J.R.R. Tolkien crafted an expansive world that is fun to escape and live in. As we follow the adventure of Frodo Baggins and his merry group of hobbits, dwarves, elves, and a wizard, we experience an adventure like no other. Another great adaptation shoutout would be The Hobbit movie, a prequel to this trilogy.
It’s so much more than an adventure; it is a story of friendship, adversity, and the world’s temptations. Hence, to no one’s surprise, LOTR deserves a spot on this list of amazing movies adapted from books.
3. The Princess Diaries
A cute and quirky movie that a lot of us grew up with, The Princess Diaries is a treat for any age. Relive your inner princess fantasies with Mia Thermopolis as she discovers her true princess heritage. The movie comes from Meg Cabot’s series of young adult books and is a true classic for those who grew up in the 2000s.
In true 2000s coming-of-age movie fashion, we have a catchy soundtrack, ridiculous plotlines, and an awkward high school teen with a terrible fashion sense. Once you’re done with the first movie, you can follow it up with the second one, where Mia becomes a true princess with duties and events to attend.
We’re all still awaiting the third movie or at least an update on the life of Princess Mia and Lord Nicholas (Chris Pine). After all the swoon-worthy moments in the second movie, we deserve some form of closure.
4. It’s Kind of A Funny Story
Bringing in a slight change in tone here with It’s Kind of A Funny Story. This young adult book by Ned Viccini is now a movie that features Zach Galifianakis and Keir Gilchrist as roommates in a psychiatric ward.
Craig is a stressed-out teenager who checks himself into a psychiatric ward after having some suicidal thoughts. However, the youth ward is under renovation, so he is set in the normal ward with adult patients. The movie explores the pressures of being a teen, angst, and the stresses of transitioning from teen to young adult.
The book itself draws inspiration from Ned Viccini’s own brief hospitalization due to depression in 2004. The author succumbed to his severe depression in 2013 after releasing numerous accounts of his struggles.
5. Pride and Prejudice
Sobering up with a classic, Pride and Prejudice will always make it onto a list of amazing movies adapted from books. Simply because it is that good; This classic by Jane Austen is a story we will never get tired of experiencing in all shapes and forms. The romance girlies will attest to this.
The movie, directed by Joe Wright, follows the story of Ms. Bennet and her family in the 1800s as their mother is adamant about finding rich husbands for her five daughters. Along comes the elusive, unlikable, and mysterious Mr. Darcy, and our main character finds herself in an enemy-to-lovers trope.
Pride and Prejudice brings the drama in ‘romantic drama,’ with various plot twists, challenges, and confounding cousin proposals (that was acceptable at the time). Plus, since this movie is one of the best romantic dramas of all time, it should definitely be in our amazing movies adapted from books list!
6. The Maze Runner
There was a time when the young adult fantasy-sci-fi category got a whole lot of recognition, and books were made into movies left and right. The Maze Runner is a great example of that, spawning three movies in succession, with the enigmatic Dylan O’Brien at its helm.
The movie is set in a dystopian world where a group of boys wake up in a giant maze with monstrous creatures roaming its walls. No worries, they are in a safe spot within the Glade. However, none of them have any recollection of life before the Maze. As they figure out how to escape, they find out that they are part of an experiment.
One of the reasons why The Maze Runner is an amazing movie is the chemistry between its cast members. Sometimes the actors really do make or break a movie.
7. Hidden Figures
It is not far-fetched to say that Hidden Figures may be shown as an educational movie in history class one day. Perhaps even the one movie that we show to our kids. The story itself is based on real-life mathematicians who worked on the US space program. Mary Lee Shatterly has done her own extensive research on the matter.
Hidden Figures is about the struggles of being a black woman in a professional setting set in a time when racial tensions were still prominent. Add some misogyny into the mix as well while they find their footing in a male-dominated world. It is a wondrous and intimate story of overcoming adversity in the face of people who don’t believe in you.
You’ll find yourself rooting for each character with ferocity by the end of it all. It’s always great to be able to acknowledge history makers lost over the course of time. Especially for minorities and the discriminated. With that said, Hidden Figures is definitely one of the most amazing movies adapted from books!
8. The Hunger Games
One of the first pioneers of young adult sci-fi books turned movies. The Hunger Games took the world by storm with its dystopian world and stress-inducing story. All in all, there are four movies that sequence the revolution that took place in Panem. A story set in motion by Katniss Everdeen.
We follow Katniss Everdeen as she volunteers to be a tribute to take the place of her sister. Tributes go over to the capital, then sent into a dome as they battle each other to the death. There are 12 varying districts, with two tributes from each. As part of the audience, we get to watch as they trap, lie, and trick each other to win in this battle royale.
In fact, there’s even a prequel to the movie that is releasing in November 2023 – The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
9. Fight Club
Even if we can’t talk about Fight Club, everyone talks about Fight Club. Whether in book form or movie form, this is a piece of media that will make your head spin. It is one of the most influential pieces of media as well. Actual fight clubs were born out of it in various parts of the world. Hence, it makes sense to include it on our list of amazing movies adapted from books.
In a nutshell, Fight Club is about an insomniac that slowly loses grip on reality. He ends up creating a split personality named Tyler Durden. He doesn’t realize it until later on, though. The two end up starting an underground fight club that spirals into an autonomous criminal ring. It’s a world where violence and anarchy take precedence.
If you’re queasy, this may not be for you. There’s a whole lot of violence and disgusting behaviors set in the book and movie. Some will even make you never want to eat in restaurants ever again.
10. The Color Purple
This is one of the most revered books and movies of all time. Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of The Color Purple is beloved for its faithfulness to the original novel’s plot. Each actor conveys a performance filled with emotion that it is hard for anyone in the audience to look away.
We look into the life of Celie and the women around her as she details their trials and tribulations within the confines of rural Georgia. From family to infidelity, we get to experience all of the emotional toll and her most intimate thoughts. The book may delve deeper into each character, but the movie is more focused on Celie.
The Color Purple is one of the older titles on this list, so we are excited to hear that it is getting a remake. The remake is releasing in December of 2023, starring Halle Bailey, Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, and more. Since Spielberg is producing it, you best believe we would be joining the crowd!
11. Harry Potter
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Harry Potter is one of the biggest media franchises out there, with a whole theme park dedicated to it. Even though J.K. Rowling is a controversial fiend, the characters and world she created are beautiful and accepting. It is safe to say that none of the characters would ever stand for her behavior.
Anyway, Harry Potter is a heartwarming story that gets darker as you go further down its storyline. He is a gifted wizard who attends a wizarding school and is the prime target of the ultimate villain to grace the wizarding world – Voldemort. Over the span of its 8 films, you’ll get to fully immerse yourself in an enchanting magical world.
Depending on your mood, you can even choose which movie to watch. For heartwarming moments, the first three should do the trick. As for something more adrenaline-pumping, the latter movies would work best. Lastly, for the best movies, Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire are my picks for sure.
Considering that most people have complained about how long and torturous it is to read the Dune books, perhaps the movie would satisfy them instead. Denis Villeneuve and his cast of star-studded actors did a wonderful job at bringing the world of Arrakis to life in this first installation.
This first movie in what we expect to be a rather long line of movies features Paul Atreides’ arrival in Arrakis. Additionally, it features the countless plot twists and betrayals that ensue over the planet’s precious resource known as melange.
Dune’s cinematography has received praise amongst critics, and its riveting storyline is just in its early stages. We look forward to the future of the Dune franchise as it holds a lot of promise so far.
13. Crazy Rich Asians
Crazy Rich Asians quite literally drove people crazy. The movie’s release was a momentous and celebratory one for Asians everywhere, bringing extended fame to its cast and crew. It is wondrous to see more Southeast Asian representation in Hollywood movies, especially one done with such extravagance.
The movie itself is a fun and satirical romantic comedy-drama that features a girl meeting her rich boyfriend’s family. But first, she is unaware of his high status, and second, his mother does not approve of her. We watch as the two clash in opinions and her attempts to assimilate into the life of Singapore’s rich and superfluous society.
As the movie only covers the first book in the trilogy, we are fully expecting two or more movies to come out sometime in the future. The first movie left us wanting more, debating on the fates of certain characters and the further challenges our leading lady has to face.
14. If Beale Street Could Talk
In what is a rather harrowing tale of racism and systemic injustice, If Beale Street Could Talk is a masterpiece adapted in 2018 from James Baldwin’s 1974 novel. If you are not looking to shed a few angry tears, then this may not be the one for you.
The lives of two childhood friends turned lovers take a drastic turn when one gets accused of a crime he did not commit. Tiff, adamant about proving Fonny’s innocence, heads out on a challenging fight for his freedom and to clear his name. She’s also pregnant with his child, which makes this all extra challenging and emotional.
Some have criticized the ending of the movie as being rather ambiguous, which is slightly different from the book’s, but making it open to interpretation feels like a good touch. For those who are sensitive to triggers, note that there are mentions of rape and sexual assault throughout the movie.
15. The Perks of Being A Wallflower
For the indie and emo teenagers of the 2000s, this was a movie that made them feel seen. Stephen Chbosky perfectly captures the emotional wreck of an introvert coming of age in high school. The crushes, the friends, the anxiety; it is all wrapped up in this long letter by Charlie, our protagonist.
15-year-old Charlie is a junior in high school with a whole lot of nervousness, especially after all that he’s been through in the past. He befriends two seniors, Sam and Patrick, who happen to be step-siblings. Furthermore, Charlie develops a crush on Sam, and more twists and turns about abuse and the turmoils of adolescence start creeping in.
Truthfully, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is jam-packed with some rather heavy themes for a teen and even for an adult to go through. Even so, it was packaged well, and Logan Lerman’s performance as a wallflower is one to be remembered. Another note, there are mentions of abuse and suicide in this one, so watch with caution.
16. American Psycho
Moving on to something more sinister and adrenaline-pumping, American Psycho is a satirical look into greed and the selfish notions that were rampant in the 80s. There’s an absurd feeling and an element of dark humor added to the movie, but it still manages to stay true to the book.
Christian Bale did such a wonderful job as Patrick Bateman, the wealthy banker who dreams of violence and eventually gives in to his bloodlust. This egoistic psychopath starts to commit a string of brutal murders on seemingly anyone who crosses his path or displeases him. Each murder is gruesome, and he even starts to get creative with them.
For those who are uneasy with violence, this is one you should skip out on. Although, it is more satirical in nature, and those who are attracted to dark humor might find it a fun watch instead.
For most, it is easier to watch Trainspotting than to read it. Primarily because of its heavy use of slang and replicated Scottish accents. This is definitely one of the amazing movies adapted from books. The movie is a more easy-to-watch version that still manages to stay true to the essence of the book.
Trainspotting is about a group of heroin addicts in a run-down place set in Edinburgh as they go through the various challenges and phases of life. The plot touches on drug addiction, urban poverty, and homelessness in a dark comedy-drama with differing points of view.
It is highly regarded as one of the best movies released in the 1990s, so if you’re on the fence, just jump off and watch it. Naturally, do be warned that you should watch this movie at your own risk.
18. Call Me By Your Name
Finally, we delve into something calmer, reminiscent of summer with a hint of sadness. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman quite literally shot Timothee Chalamet to Hollywood stardom and beyond. There are minor differences from book to screen, with a change in timeline and the exclusion of a present-day scene that occurred at the end of the book.
Elio is a young, sprightly 17-year-old living a carefree Italian summer when he meets Oliver, his father’s graduate assistant, and they start a short-lived whirlwind romance. The two run around hiding their passionate secret affair from everyone else, but as summer comes to an end, so does their love.
Call Me By Your Name is nothing short of a dream, and when it ends, we are forced to wake up. The setting and color grading of the movie already holds such a dreamlike quality that it becomes hard not to dream of the Italian countryside for your next getaway.
19. The Princess Bride
Another oldie but goldie, we have The Princess Bride. It is a faithful adaptation of the novel as its author – William Goldman – is the one to screenwrite it as well. Goldman adjusted the script to be an accurate and dynamic adaptation of his novel, resulting in a masterpiece.
The plot is a tale as old as time, with a man (Westley) who goes on an adventure to rescue his one true love, Princess Buttercup, from a loveless marriage with a prince. There are sword fights, musical numbers, and dialogue that will leave you laughing with tears in your eyes.
If you’ve heard of the famous – ‘Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die,’ line or as snippets of a meme; this movie is where it all started. It is infinitely more satisfying to watch the scene play out live.
20. Gone Girl
Whether you read the book or watch the movie, both will give you that adrenaline rush and satisfaction when you reach the end. There are minor differences between the two, with certain characters not having a significant role or appearance in the movie as they did in the book.
Gone Girl starts with a suburban woman with a perfect childhood that goes missing. All suspicions fall on her unassuming husband, and we watch how easy it is for the media to turn into something sinister. The plot twist, which everyone has already suspected by now, is a dark and somehow satisfying one.
This psychological thriller by Gillian Flynn and David Fincher is most definitely one of the more amazing movies adapted from books, hands down.
21. The Godfather
Mafia and crime stories are a whole genre of books that most people tend to overlook, as it is much more entertaining to watch the action unfold rather than read it. However, The Godfather proves us wrong. The movie is based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 crime novel of the same name.
The setting is New York City after WWII, with The Corleone family at the top of the mafia crime ring headed by Vito Corleone himself. As they struggle to maintain their status as the top family mafia, Vito’s son, Michael Corleone, is forced to take over the family business. As such, he puts his loved ones in the face of danger.
Furthermore, since this came from a series of books, there are three movies released, making it a trilogy. Once you’re done with the first one, be sure to watch the rest!
In this fantasy romance adventure by Neil Gaiman, everything is magical. You’ll get to finally understand what it means to do whatever it takes to get the girl. Stardust is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who co-wrote the script with Jane Goldman for the big screen.
Tristan, head over heels in love, promises to capture a star from the magical forbidden realm to prove his love for Victoria and ask for her hand in marriage. Armed with a deadline to return by her birthday, he sets off. Later, he subsequently finds out that the fallen star has taken human form and is being hunted by witches and princes. This complicates things.
Stardust is a magnificent movie that is often overlooked, but one that you should add to your list when looking for amazing movies adapted from books. The world-building is beautiful, it is guaranteed to make you laugh, and the dialogue is simply wonderful.
If you watch Twilight now, you would have differing (probably negative) opinions on it. But for those who grew up in the 2000s, Twilight was a cultural phenomenon. For nostalgia’s sake, it is a movie we should all watch at least once to understand the infatuation teen girls in the 2000s had for Edward and Jacob (among others).
The movie revolves around Bella as she relocates to the small town of Forks. She is interested in the Cullen family and eventually falls in love with Edward. Later, she finds out that he’s a vampire, and one of her friends from another end of town – Jacob – is a werewolf. From here, we watch the love triangle unfold amongst the many challenges that such relations would bring to a human.
Although it is a little odd to be adding this movie to our list of amazing films adapted from books, it feels fitting to celebrate a little 2000s teen nostalgia. After all,
24. Bones and All
Timothee Chalamet strikes again in Bones and All. In a rather interesting mix of horror and romance, Bones and All proved that opposites can work well together. At first glance, the plot may surprise and frighten you, but there’s an underlying meaning to it all once you dig deeper.
The story takes place between an outcasted young lady and a drifter as they embark on a road trip together through the backroads of America. With dark pasts and surprising differences, we’ll get to ponder whether love truly does conquer all. And yes, there is cannibalism involved. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Again, if you’re queasy, this is not the movie for you, as there are depictions of violence, gore, and all that dirty stuff.
25. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
A great summer read turned into a great summer watch as well. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (TATBILB) created a resurgence in young adult romcoms back in 2018. Since then, there have been numerous young adult romance book adaptations like The Summer I Turned Pretty and the After film series. And yes, some of them are terrible.
TATBILB by Jenny Han follows Lara Jean’s high school life as her love letters get mailed out to all of her crushes. As in her crushes since she was a child to her current high school crush, who happens to be her sister’s boyfriend. She ends up striking a deal with one of her crushes in a fake dating situation turned rogue.
This movie will get your legs kicking in the air, giggling, and gushing as Peter Kavinsky charms the pants out of you. That much can be said for the first movie, but things get a little more subpar for the second and third, as with most teen movie dramas.