my top ten favorite book to movie adaptions


Me, after writing this blog post while also juggling college stuff and writing.

Books.  Movies.  Both awesome, right?  And while I’m pretty sure I like reading books more than watching movies, sometimes it’s a toss-up.  (Particularly right after I’ve read a meh book and watched an awesome movie.)  One thing all bookworms can agree on, though, is that The Hollywood Powers That Be rarely get their book-to-movie adaptions right, and that’s a shame.  However.  There are some book-to-film adaptions that stand out above the rest, thankfully, and today I want to talk about my favorites.  My list isn’t some comprehensive cheat-sheet of the very best literary movie adaptions ever – these are simply my personal favorites.  And they’re listed in chronological order, because why not?  Also, spoilers.  Maybe.  I dunno.  And does it really matter?  Because I don’t think people actually steer clear of spoiler warnings – I know I don’t. (Seriously, guys, do you?  I’m curious.)

(By the way, I’m not including book-to-miniseries adaptions on this list.  Just so you know.)

Little Men {1934} This little-known gem can be watched for free here (public domain, I’m assuming).  LiviaRachelle recommended it to me a while back and I’ve since watched it twice.  Closely follows the book in all the important areas (despite its only being about an hour and ten minutes in length) and besides a few small changes, even the dialogue is faithful.  Plus, from what I’ve seen of all the other adaptions of Little Men, Frankie Darro’s portrayal of Dan is probably the best ever.

A Tale of Two Cities {1935}This version of ATOTC is about as spot-on as a book-to-film movie can be, in my opinion.  Ronald Colman really carries the movie, I think, and the rest of the cast is great as well (particularly Basil Rathbone *shivers*).  Plus, outstanding production quality throughout makes this an adaption of Charles Dickens’ mighty work that will thrill lovers of classics everywhere. (And, you know, this was one of the first movies to ever make me cry.  So it’s special that way, too.)

Gone With the Wind {1939} – BEST.  I have to say that I prefer the book (as is nearly always the case), but I think the movie did an amazing job of capturing the epic scope of Gone With the Wind, as well as the characters. (Except Will. *sigh*)  There’s a reason GWTW is one of the most iconic and well-loved films of all time: from the superb cast to the fascinating story and, of course, the sweeping music – not to mention the costumes.  This is a movie to swoon over.

To Kill a Mockingbird {1962} – I’m so glad TKAM was filmed in black & white.  Like Schindler’s List, this is the kind of story that wouldn’t feel right in colour.  Definitely not.  Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch…well, you’d be hard pressed to find a better, more faithful portrayal of any fictional character.  This movie is stark and sobering and so, so good, plus it’s one of the most faithful literary adaptions I’ve ever seen.

The Outsiders {1983} – Just so we’re clear, whenever I talk about The Outsiders movie on this blog, I’m talking about the Complete Novel Edition.  Only way to watch it, in my opinion.  Anyway, this movie has a perfect cast (who all went on to be famous) and it captures the spirit of the book, especially all that raw emotion.  Even though not all the scenes flow together quite as well as I’d have liked and the soundtrack gets a little jarring at times, I still love this movie.

Little Women {1994} – While I don’t like Little Women (the book) as much as Little Men, I adore this movie adaption.  Best cast, of the three adaptions I’ve seen, and the music makes me choke up just because of how beautiful it is. (Like the soundtrack for the Anne of Green Gables movies.)  There’s something delightfully homey and charming and even Christmasy about this movie. *happy sigh*

Pride & Prejudice {2005} – Now, I’ll admit I haven’t seen this film in a long while, but it will ever remain my favorite adaption of Pride & Prejudice.  Can I get a ‘yes’?  Because I know that so many people like A&E’s ’95 version better, but, personally, I find it forgettable.  Kiera Knightley is Elizabeth Bennet, with all her wit and spirit, and I believe that, even though this adaption isn’t as faithful as others, it completely captures the tone and general feel of the book.  It really does.

True Grit {2010} – One time where I actually liked the movie better than the book.  For me, the book was dry and flat and a little dull, but the movie brings what is honestly a splendid story to life.  Living, breathing, wild and emotional and, overall, an exquisite film.  Love the soundtrack, love Jeff Bridges, and Hailee Steinfeld is exceptionally amazing as Mattie Ross.

Catching Fire {2013} – Because of my mom’s obsession with all things Hunger Games, I’ve probably seen this movie six or seven times.  It never gets old.  I believe that the soundtrack is richest and fullest out of the four films and it’s the most well-made movie of the franchise, too.  And what can I say about the cast?  You all know who they are and how wonderfully they fit their roles.  Easily a ten-out-of-ten rating when it comes to book accuracy.

Unbroken {2014} – Yes, it’s nonfiction.  But Unbroken was one of the most highly anticipated movies I’ve ever seen (do you know how many times I watched the trailers?) and it delivered, in almost every way.  (Except for cutting out everything that happened to Louie post-war.)  The cast was perfect (how many times have I said that in this post?), the cinematography was gorgeous, and the music was powerful.  The only reason I haven’t watch it more recently is because I couldn’t handle it…so much violence, so many emotions.  But also so inspirational.


What are some of the best book-to-film adaptions, in your opinion?



13 thoughts on “my top ten favorite book to movie adaptions

  1. Yes, Dan make that movie, well Nat helps, but Dan. I’ve always loved Dan. I hate the ending given him in Jo’s Boys, its like the author didn’t know what to do with him.

    What is the Complete Novel Edition of the Outsiders?! Our library only has one copy which I am still waiting one; I don’t know what version it is!

    Catching Fire seems to be our favorite of the three too. More Peeta is part of it. I think it was some of my siblings favorite book. I think I like to clump the first two books as one and forget the last. But I need to re-read them again.

    I cannot even stand to finish the 1994 Little Women. Actually finishing the book is hard too. Why does Amy even have to exist? I thought at one point that the Katherine Hepburn one is the most accurate, at least with Meg and John Brooke’s story. That proposal scene in the book is one of my favorite ever because it is so funny. I still need to see the ’70’s version though.

    The ’05 version, don’t get me started. Actually, I so don’t take it seriously as an adaptation that I can watch it without being bothered for a comparison, but it is SO goofy and embarrassing as a movie and in terms of period correctness. My mom, sisters, and I watched it recently and decided it was good for a laugh . . . not at the places where a laugh is meant necessarily either. And that Mr. Collins is so pathetic you cannot really help but pity him some.

    Still need to see TKAM Gregory Peck 🙂

    Not sure I even want to attempt GWTW. I skimmed the book and wanted to puke. I started the movie and got bored.


    • I’ve loved Dan ever since Mom read Little Men to my siblings and I when I was pretty little. (Especially the whole thing with him taking the blame for stealing Tommy’s quarters.) And then I read Jo’s Boys pretty recently and my heart broke for him. 😦 Anyway, I was super glad to find the movie, so thanks for recommending it to me!


  2. Whoa, hold the phones – YOU LIKE THE ’05 VERSION BETTER?!?!

    I’m usually not passionate about which version people like (bc everybody’s entitled to their own opinion yadiyadiyada) but like I thought you’d be a ’95 kinda gal. Weird.



    I’m with you all the way on that one–it’s not perfect, but it’s the best adaptation out there, in my opinion. I just didn’t feel anything special with the ’95 movie, at all.

    (Although I still want a new adaptation with Daisy Ridley and Richard Armitage. Because that WOULD be perfect. Just sayin’.)


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