Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new question or theme is presented. This week’s prompt asks us to talk about kinds of stories other than books. So, I decided to list my top ten favorite MOVIES BASED ON BOOKS!
Most booklovers say that “the book is always better!” and generally I agree. But there are some movies based on books that I love and that I think stay pretty true to the author’s vision. Here are my top ten movies that started out as books–I’ve watched all of these films multiple times, and if I happen to come upon any of them on TV, chances are that I’ll stay put and watch the whole thing! Ready? Here we go, in no particular order:
1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee I read this classic in ninth-grade English class, and the unit ended with all the English classes watching the film together in the high school auditorium. This was back in the days before DVDs and VCRs weren’t even widely used (I feel SO OLD right now!)—we were watching the movie from an actual movie projector! To this day I can still remember sitting there with my girlfriends, waiting anxiously for the sight of Boo Radley’s face (played by Robert Duvall!) for the very first time. . . and the film broke at that exact instant! One of the teachers raced up the aisle to the projection room to fix the film while a whole auditorium full of kids groaned.
2. Ordinary People by Judith Guest I’ve probably seen this movie at least a dozen times over the years—and there are still a couple of scenes that make me tear up. It’s hard to believe that this was Timothy Hutton’s very first film–he’s amazing. Plus—Mary Tyler Moore plays a role that was radically different from her usual character choices. I believe that this was also Robert Redford’s directorial debut. This is a movie that I used to use as a tongue-in-cheek “boyfriend detector”—if a guy had actually seen (and liked!) this film, I figured there was boyfriend potential there. I had a pretty good track record with this method for awhile!
3. Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger I love this nonfiction book about a Texas town and its complicated, all-consuming relationship with the local high school football team– but I simply ADORE the movie. I rarely buy movie DVDs, but I bought this one and have watched it multiple times. (I’ve never watched even one episode of the TV series, though—not sure why!) This is about so much more than football—even if you’re not a sports fan, there’s still something for you in this movie! And–I’m not usually a big Billy Bob Thornton fan, but he truly shines in this film.
4. Kramer vs. Kramer by Avery Corman Great book, even greater movie—starring an incredibly young Dustin Hoffman as the father and Meryl Streep as the mother who leaves her husband and child. There are a couple of scenes in this movie that make me cry every. single. time.
5. All the President’s Men by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein I’ve never been able to make it through the whole book about the Watergate investigation, but this is a wonderful film—and parts of it are as suspenseful as any fictional thriller. Dustin Hoffman (again!) and Robert Redford are incredible as the journalists caught up in a story that’s bigger and more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. I actually stumbled upon this movie on cable a couple of weeks ago and ended up staying up past my bedtime and watching the whole thing. . . again!
6. Chapter Two by Neil Simon This started out as a play and was then adapted into a movie. I have to be in the right mood to read plays—sometimes all the stage directions get in the way for me—but this is one of my favorite films. James Caan is wonderful as a man who can’t seem to move on from his wife’s death, and Marsha Mason is the woman who wants to help him do so. It also co-stars a very young Valerie Harper. I love this movie! (But—can I just say that I HATE the movie poster? This movie is NOT primarily a happy-go-lucky comedy, although there are parts that are extremely funny.)
7. And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts Based on Shilt’s overwhelmingly informative, moving, and incredibly upsetting nonfiction account of the early years of the AIDS crisis, this is another film that never fails to make me cry. Richard Gere, Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Lily Tomlin . . . the list of actors who participated in this film goes on and on. Great book, great movie.
8. About A Boy by Nick Hornby I love this film—there are parts that make me laugh out loud every time I watch it. This is one movie that departs from the book in quite a few ways, but in the long run it stays pretty true to the basic plot.
9. Death On The Nile and 10. Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie I read both of these books in high school when I was in a serious Agatha Christie phase–in fact, I still have my paperback copies! Both of these movies are pretty close adaptations of these brilliant mysteries, and the plots definitely hold up after all these years.
How about you? Have you read and/or watched any of these? What are some of your favorite movies based on books? Please share!