And 13 movies that lived up to the books.
It’s not cool to say the movie was as good as the book.
Everyone knows you are supposed to defer to the book–the original inspiration–as the better version. Often, that’s the case. But every once in awhile, a filmmaker gets it right. Most of the time though…
13 to read and skip the movie:
1. Breakfast of Champions ~ Kurt Vonnegut. It’s not “cool” to say so, but I’m not a huge Vonnegut fan. Breakfast of Champions is actually the only Vonnegut book I enjoyed. I had high hopes for the movie. High hopes that were immediately dashed to pieces.
2. Bonfire of the Vanities ~ Tom Wolfe. Tom Hanks was great in many movies. This is not one of them. Fantastic book, though.
3. The Virgin Suicides ~ Jeffrey Eugenides. Bittersweet, darkly beautiful book. Slightly artsy Lifetime-worthy movie version.
4. The Cider House Rules ~ John Irving. The film version was lovely and enjoyable and left out the most important parts of a brilliant book.
5. Huckleberry Finn ~ Mark Twain. Isn’t it time for a remake of this? Please?
6. Water for Elephants ~ Sara Gruen. Full disclosure: I saw the movie first with this one. I had no idea what I was getting into and the scenes of animal abuse and domestic abuse, well, let’s just say it’s a good thing I wear very little makeup. I was bawling. A friend talked me into reading the book afterwards. Still sad, but truly wonderful too.
7. Beloved ~ Toni Morrison. Read this one in college and liked it well enough. Not a favorite, but enjoyable. I decided to watch the movie when it came out. Didn’t make it all the way through.
8. Everything is Illuminated ~ Jonathan Safran Foer. I watched this a few nights ago. Loved the book. Didn’t love the movie. Sorry Elijah Wood, you will always be Frodo to me.
9. Cold Mountain ~ Charles Frazier. Amazing poetic love story set during the Civil War. Of course, an Australian female lead, British male lead, and Romanian countryside are the ideal ingredients to portray this, right? Wrong. The movie was lovely on it’s own merits, but nowhere near the caliber of the book.
10. Great Expectations ~ Charles Dickens. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke and Robert DeNiro in one of my faves? I wanted to love it. Failed.
11. Lord of the Flies ~ William Golding. Same as Huck Finn. A classic in need of a better film version. Can we skip that whole Hunger Games thing and just have someone make a great version of Lord of the Flies instead?
12. White Oleander ~ Janet Fitch. Am I alone on this one? I loved the book, hated the movie. Everyone else I’ve asked loved both.
13. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ~ Steig Larsson. Loved the Millenium Trilogy. The Swedish version didn’t do it for me. Haven’t seen the U.S. version yet. Fingers crossed that it’s better.
13 to read and watch:
1. Fantastic Mr. Fox ~ Roald Dahl. Roald Dahl writes children’s books for the quirky child that still exists in all book loving adults. Roald Dahl + Wes Anderson + stop motion + George Clooney + Meryl Streep (and the rest of the fantastic cast) = Genius! (I would have watched it even if I didn’t have kids.)
3. The Princess Bride ~ William Goldman. Movie as good as the book? Inconcievable! That would take a miracle maker. Rob Reiner is that miracle maker. (I think I actually enjoy the movie slightly more than the book in this case…shh…don’t tell anyone!)
4. Fight Club ~ Chuck Palahniuk. We can’t talk about it. But if we were going to talk about it, both the book and the movie are brutal and brilliant.
5. The Lovely Bones ~ Alice Sebold. You wouldn’t think that the story of a young girl being murdered could have any beauty to it. Alice Sebold manages to do this in the novel, and Peter Jackson succeeds equally well in the film.
6. The Maltese Falcon ~ Dashiell Hammett. Classics on both fronts. Would recommend a read and watch to everyone who has missed it so far.
7. Chocolat ~ Joanne Harris. If a story could be flirtatious and charming, this is it in both versions. Johnny Depp doesn’t hurt either.
8. The Shawshank Redemption ~ Steven King. I think I’d like Morgan Freeman to narrate my life. Both classics. If you only saw the movie, do yourself a favor and read the book too.
9. Room with a View ~ E.M. Forster. E.M. Forster’s best novel. Merchant-Ivory’s best film. All around gorgeous to read or watch.
10. Out of Africa ~ Isak Dinesen. Meryl Streep. Robert Redford. Kenya. Love all of it. I think I need to re-read and re-watch this year.
11. Schindler’s List ~ Thomas Keneally. Both amazing and powerful; read and watch.
12. Harry Potter (all) ~ J. K. Rowling. Yes to all. Have yet to see the last part of Deathly Hallows, but am getting to enjoy the books all over again now that my seven year old has started reading them.
13. Gone with the Wind ~ Margaret Mitchell. “You should be kissed and often and by someone who knows how.” Whether you watch and read for Rhett and Scarlett, or you just like historical fiction, it’s epic however you look at it. (But come on, it’s totally for Rhett and Scarlett.)
What did I miss? What did I get wrong? Let me know in the comments!