Home Entertainment Top 20 Book-to-Movie Adaptations of All Time

Top 20 Book-to-Movie Adaptations of All Time

by Nebojša Vujinović

Reading a good book is an amazing feeling. The case is the same with movies. But, having watched a movie that is based on a book can be a unique sensation. Especially if everyone did a good job. Sometimes, despite the best effort, you can’t translate even the best book into a quality movie. Of course, there were major successes among movies based on books, and these films are our subject for today. Check out our list of top 20 books-to-movies adaptations.

The Silence of the Lambs

Thank God Sean Connery refused this role. Also, thank God Anthony Hopkins accepted it. This horror/thriller stars Hopkins and Jodie Foster and it is a cinematography masterpiece. Everyone who has a chance should see it. It is based on the novel o the same name from author Thomas Harris.

The Godfather

Another Hollywood epic that is considered one of the best movies of all time by both fans and critics. Mario Puzo is the author of this one, and many would argue that the film is even better than the book. You’ll never look at mobsters the same way after seeing this one. Who would have thought that the book was published way back in 1969?

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Sometimes it seems like Jack Nicholson was a star since the beginning of his career. But, that wasn’t the case. It was only after this movie that he became the actor we know and love today. He was the perfect choice for this role and carried it out to perfection. Ken Kesey is the author of the book, and you’d be wise to watch the movie and read the book in short intervals between each other.

Fight Club

Brad Pitt and Edward Norton have perfect on-screen chemistry, and thanks to them this piece became a cult movie among fans. The book is good by all standards, but the movie is something else. The manner in which these two actors brought Tyler Durden and the Narrator to life is must-see television. Chuck Palahniuk released the novel of the same name in 1996, and the film came out shortly after.


Brie Larson brought the heartbreaking book to life with this adaptation. Jacob Tremblay is her co-star, and the two were a perfect pairing which can be seen from the first scene they share. Emma Donoghue wrote this novel which revolves around mother and son who were held captive their whole lives.

American Psycho

Christian Bale knows how to nail a role, and this one hit the target right in the middle. The book follows a serial killer, and it’s a good read if you like themes like this. But, the film is a must-watch as it is one of Bale’s premium performances. Bret Easton Ellis finished the book in 1991, and the film came nine years later.

Sense & Sensibility

This timeless drama can easily be seen as one perfect book-to-movie adaptation. Sense & Sensibility came out in 1995 and it started with Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, and Kate Winslet. The director was Ang Lee, who managed to capture the tie period with perfection. Jane Austen, unfortunately, couldn’t witness this masterpiece she published the book in 1811.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

This is the freshest movie on our list considering it came out only a decade ago. It remains true to the story that was written by Stieg Larsson. Soon after this movie, a Hollywood remake also followed. The film was directed by David Fincher and it stared no other than Daniel Craig more famed for his appearance as James Bond. The latter came out in 2011, but the first one was way better.

The Shining

The Shining is right up there with the best movies in this department. Stephen King’s novel got justice with this film, which is interestingly another piece marked by the great Jack Nicholson. The movie has so many iconic scenes that immediately upon its release it became an instant classic. Many people never even have read the novel.

Brokeback Mountain

Just like the reappearance of Nicholson as an actor in a book adaptation, here we yet again have Ang Lee as a director. He did another perfect job by adapting Anne Proulx’s story. She’s also a fan of the film. The film was followed by major controversies because it depicts a gay relationship between two cowboys. But, in the end, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal carried out their roles to perfection, and the film is now a cult classic.


Stephen King knows how to write a novel that’s easy to translate into film. It is another piece of his that became a highly successful Hollywood horror. The story of the clown named Pennywise and kids from Derry is one of the ages. But, you shouldn’t watch it unless you want to get scared, and afraid of clowns.


When you see the name of Stanley Kubrick you know it’s good. The film is an amazing adaptation due to Kubrick being a genius at his work. It wasn’t easy to capture the essence of this piece considering its subject. But, when we look at it now, we can see that Stanley did an amazing job with the novel written by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov.

Little Women

Louisa May Alcott did a brilliant job with her book Little women, and no one could have expected that Greta Gerwig will do the same in 2019 with her film. She even brought a few changes to the entire thing, making it even more special. While there are changes to the original writing the story remains loyal to itself and no one has anything to complain about.

The Color Purple

Alice Walker is the author of the original piece, but it received another layer when it hit the little screens. This shouldn’t come as surprise considering that Oprah Winfrey, Whoopie Goldberg, and Danny Glover were all involved. This was a hard and emotional read which was perfectly brought to the film format. You’ll know why and how when we tell you that Steven Spielberg was the director.

Forrest Gump

We don’t know about you, but for this web publisher, Forest Gump is one of the best movies ever. It is a story for ages, of a man that has the world pitted against him managing to conquer it despite the odds. While the novel was quite extraordinary, we find that once you see Tom Hanks’s portrayal of Forest which one is the better. The story was complex but it was done beautifully and managed to win quite a few Oscars in the process.

Doctor Zhivago

The novel was a masterpiece on its own, but thanks to David Lean the movie was one too. Zhivago has many sides, but the film decided to be focused on his romantic presence. Boris Pasternak would be proud of this piece, as it belongs high in the culture of cinematography.

Hidden Figures

The 2016 adaptation of this beautiful masterpiece is a worthy watch. Hidden Figures was great as both the book and the film. The cast was perfectly assembled and it included Octavia Spencer and Taraji P. Henson. The director was Theodore Melfi who perfectly capture the life and deed of NASA’s Katherine Johnson.

Harry Potter

This has to be the most famous book-to-movie adaptation. The wizarding world is one that intrigues both young adults and older people. The Harry Potter books transcendent generations, and we are lucky to have movies that are faithful to the original material. The cast was perfect, the story is eternal, and we have nothing more to add. Fans of the books are fans of the movies and vice versa.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Audrey Hepburn is a well-known name in the film industry and it’s all thanks to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Truman Capote’s novella is a much darker piece, but the film has a lighter tone after being adapted by screenwriter George Axelrod and director Blake Edward. Today, it’s a romantic film, that inspires generations, and rightfully so. No one barely remembers that it is based on a novel, and is even not aware of the novel’s dark connotations.

Lord of The Rings

This is the one! J. R. R. Tolkien created this masterpiece in the years after WWII, and it rose to be relevant even 50 years after it was published. Peter Jackson created a trilogy that is a trendsetter in the movie industry even twenty years after it was released. Tolkien also has another piece filmed and it is Hobbit. Both of his masterpieces are translated to trilogies and people all over the world are now fans both of movies and his alike.