Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


For this Top Ten, I am listing all the adaptations I love -- some are better than the source material, some are just as good, and some don't quite live up to the novel(s). Either way, these are the movies and shows of books that I find worth watching.

1. How to Train Your Dragon (movie > book)

Anyone who knows me or follows me on twitter is not surprised by this pick at all.

I admittedly read the books after seeing and loving this movie. To say I was disappointed with the book version is a vast understatement. There's no Astrid (or any real female characters), Hiccup is a brat, and Toothless is not even a Night Fury, nor particularly endearing. I was ????? for the whole book and DNF'd the series. I'll stick with the kickass movie versions, thank you.

2. A Song of Ice and Fire (tv but I am counting it -  books > show)

I love both versions of this but I have to admit the book series has more of my heart. There's just so much good stuff that the show leaves out for whatever asinine reason -- Arianne Martell, Stoneheart, the prophecies, etc etc. I have to hand to HBO for getting a lot of right and it is the best adaptation for these books that we are ever going to get. They also get kudos for casting by and large --- especially for Pedro Pascal.

3. Stardust (movie is better)

Another that the movie is better than the book. I also saw this a movie before reading the book and while the book is good -- really good -- it misses the spark that the movie has. I was really surprised to feel this way but though Gaiman's novel is excellent, I had so much fun watching this movie. From Robert De Niro's Captain Shakespeare to introducting me to the wonder that is Mark Strong, Stardust the movie is pretty much perfect.

4.  The Princess Bride (movie > book)

I can tell you why this is such a great adaptation: casting. Casting made this movie. The book is so wonderful that this is a close race. However -- young Cary Elwes? Young Mandy Pantinkin at his Inigo Montoya-est? Billy Crystal's oneliners?! Andre the Giant?! This is a whirl of charm, humor, good looks, and memorable quotes. I defy you to find anyone with a heart that does not find something to love about this movie.

5. Jurassic Park (movie > book)

As vivid as my imagination is, nothing can really compare to Spielberg's work here, am I right? I didn't read this til I was in high school -- ten years after viewing the movie -- and the looks lacks the visual impact. Crichton is good at writing thrillers and tension but the visuals are weak in his novels. For that reason and for the impact Alan Grant had on a young Jessie (thank you casting people), this movie is one of the best book adaptations out there.

6-10. Harry Potter 5, 6, 7pt. 1, 7pt.2  (books > movies)

I like the firt four Potter movies but they are not the best, in terms of child acting, directing, or plot-following. I enjoy them because they are HP but it's not til later movies do they become some of the best book to movie adaptations. And though I loathe the trend of breaking up final movies, Harry Potter was a series that actually warranted it.

I actually kind of hate book to movie adaptations? A faithful adaptation will be too long and generally slower paced, while the pacing and length that makes a good movie cuts important details out of the book. I generally end up not reading the book if I liked the movie first and vice versa, but here are five that I did enjoy.

1. The Shining (1980) - If you've read the novel, you'd know that Kubrick's masterpiece seriously toned down the supernatural elements - and is better for it. King's novels are best when adapted in spirit, if not to the letter. (See also, Carrie)

2. The Importance of Being Earnest (2002) - Colin Firth. Don't we all have a favorite Firth adaptation? Bridget Jones and Pride & Prejudice routinely make best adaptations lists, but TIoBE is mine. It's unbelievably silly and hammy and I don't date anyone who won't sit though it, because that means they hate fun and joy.

3. Stardust (2007) - This is a pretty faithful adaption, but, gun to my head, I prefer the movie for some truly committed performances.

4. The Princess Bride (1987) - Duh?

5. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) / The Hunger Games (2012) - These are the only two adaptations on this list that are undeniably better books than movies and I'm grouping them together because they represent my favorites in their series and in the YA movie dump of the last decade.

And, to round out this list, here are five book to movie adaptations I want to, but forgot to watch. Oops.

1. The Martian (2015)
2. Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010/2011) (I know, I know.)
4. Mr. Holmes (2015)
5. PrideandPrejudice (1995)

I know, I KNOW!


  1. I just finished reading Stardust for the first time and can't wait to finally see the movie! I'd been waiting to read it first. haha Completely agree with you on GoT.
    I just watched Mockingjay Part 1 (finally) and really liked it. It was very slow going but the buildup clearly was necessary. I still think they're some seriously fantastic adaptations. Makes me want to do a re-read.. I seem to remember so little.

    1. Ooh let me know what you think of the Stardust movie. It was another one that the casting was so perfect for me. And I can't believe Dani thought of THG and I forgot them entirely! Whoops!

  2. Neither of you have Lord of the Rings on your list?!?!?!?!?!?!?! That is my number one movie is better than the book adaptation. I had trouble getting through the book but I could watch those movies forever. They really captured the spirit of them. And I stilllll need to see HTTYD and Stardust! I've only seen Princess Bride a couple times and I enjoyed the book, not sure there... LOVE Jurassic Park, haven't read the book yet. Harry Potter I waffle on bc the small but important changes bother me so much. However, I don't think we'll ever get a better adaptation of them. And the casting is perfect. I LOVED The Hunger Games movie after only liking the book, and thought Catching Fire was amazing in both forms. I'm scared for Mockingjay. I also super love Emma (1996) and P&P (2005) for Austen adaptations. ASOIAF books always win but I totally agree with your assessment Jessie. Great list ladies!

    1. I'm the world's worst fantasy fan, but I couldn't read LOTR. I get to Tom Bombadil and quit every time. I liked the first movie, but I felt they REALLY went down hill after that.

      I did love the Hobbit, but hated all three of the movies. Basically, Peter Jackson can suck it.

    2. YOU ARE SO RIGHT. How did I forget LOTR?? I loved the first one so much I wore out the videotape I owned! (Oh god I just dated myself didn't I? IT WAS 2002!)

      I'm going to yell at you on Twitter for not watching HTTYD YET WOMAN LIKE REALLY YOU WILL LOVE IT I KNOW YOU WILL


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