Best film adaptations of books

Bringing characters to life

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Love books? Love films? Us, too. We've rounded up the best book-to-screen adaptations of all time.

Mortdecai

What do you get when you put together a cast of Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Paul Bettany, Tom Hardy and Jess Goldblum - all led by Johnny Depp as the title character? An amusing and energetic adaptation. Based on the series of comic thriller novels of the same name, written by Kyril Bonfiglioli - the film is jampacked full of longrunning gags, angry Russians and a rather ostentatious moustache. Depp truly comes alive as rogue art dealer, Charlie Mortdecai. Expect eccentricity on similar levels as Captain Jack Sparrow and Willy Wonker. 

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Gone Girl

It was always going to be a pretty challenging endeavour doing justice to such a publically-adored novel, but director, David Fincher has - without exaggeration - nailed it. An exceptional Rosamund Pike plays Amy Elliot-Dunne; a brooding Ben Affleck stars as Nick Dunne; and brilliant supporting roles come from Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry. With author Gillian Flynn penning the screenplay for the film, a relatively faithful transition from book to screen was guaranteed (with the exception of minor tweaks). Satisfying yet scalding in places, the overall outcome is anything but disappointing. 

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Fight Club

Chuck Palahniuk's exhilarating 1996 cult novel follows an insomniac officer worker and a mysterious soap-maker who both create an underground fight club as a radical form of psychotherapy. The anarchic story was done a well-deserved justice with David Fincher's gritty on-screen adaptation, boasting a seamless all-star cast of Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham-Carter and Jared Leto. Thumbs up.

Harry Potter series

No other literary franchise has ignited the imagination of children and adults worldwide, like J.K. Rowling's iconic seven-part series. We were sucked into a world of horcruxes, butterbeer, and turbo broomsticks – all brought to life by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint in the films. We salute you, but we're still waiting on our letter to Hogwarts.

Lord Of The Rings series

Directed by the inimitable Peter Jackson, the Lord Of The Rings film franchise truly evoked J. R. R. Tolkien's monumental imaginings of Middle Earth (also opening our eyes to Orlando Bloom's elfish potential). Of course, due to the sizable volume of the novels, understandably, much had to be whittled down to fit into the films – but Jackson gets our approval for such epic creations.

The Shining

'Here's Johnny!' – It's a rare occurrence that a quote becomes so synonymous with its original film, and this already speaks volumes about the success of Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's chilling 1977 novel. King has previously voiced his personal dissatisfaction of the film, but this hasn't stopped it from becoming a classic (and giving us nightmares).

Trainspotting

There's no denying the cult success that followed Danny Boyle's hilarious yet disturbing adaptation of Irvine Welsh's phonetically written 1993 novel. Following the antics of a gang of heroin addicts, the likes of Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle fronted the cast of the movie, creating an irresistibly gritty watch.

Breakfast At Tiffany's

Blake Edwards' film adaptation of Truman Capote's 1958 novella may still be regularly met with protests at the lack of original plot adherence, but the film still carries undeniable cultural significance. Audrey Hepburn's Givenchy LBD is burned into our style-consciousness; not to mention, the film is responsible for the creation of classic song, Moon River

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Written in an epistolary style, Lionel Shriver's gripping award-winning novel essentially depicts the aftermath of a school massacre – from the perspective of the killer's mother. Stark and disturbing, the book was translated into a 2011 film starring Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, and – very much like the book – it stays with you afterwards.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Jack Nicholson's heartbreaking performance as impish convict, Randle McMurphy in the film version of Ken Kesey's novel, continues to be unforgettable. Interestingly, at the time of filming, Ken Kesey was so insistent for Gene Hackman – rather than Nicholson – to play the protagonist, that he sued the film's producers. Despite this, the film went on to scoop all five major Oscars the year it was nominated. Smug, much?

The Godfather

Regularly voted the best film of all time, The Godfather was adapted from Mario Puzo's 1969 best-selling crime novel of the same name. Although there are a number of plot discrepancies between the novel and the movie, there's no arguing that the cinematic culmination – aptly cast with Marlon Brando and Al Pacino – doesn't go above the call of duty when doing the book justice.

Bridget Jones's Diary

The much-loved character of Bridget Jones was first coined by author Helen Fielding in 1996, and we can't thank her enough. The film adaptation saw a stellar cast of an endearing Renée Zellweger, a prim and proper Colin Firth, and a mischievous Hugh Grant take on the novel with brilliant results. Watching Hugh Grant and Colin Firth fighting in a Greek restaurant? Unforgettable.

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