Books on the Big Screen (Top Ten Tuesday)

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by one of my favorite book blogs The Broke and The Bookish!  Surprisingly, this is my debut participation in the meme so I want to welcome anyone who may be visiting Her Book Self for the first time!  This week's Top Ten Topic is Best Book to Movie Adaptations and it is a theme I can't resist weighing in on... my biggest challenge will be whittling this down to a top ten!  (I have 93 works in my LibraryThing catalog that are tagged "movie"!)

To be fair, I'm going to automatically leave the following books off this list: The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Wizard of OzHowl's Moving Castle, Gone With The Wind, & Little Women - I've already blogged about them and my love of their movies (click the titles if you want my thoughts).  I also want to give honorable mentions to Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice which I'm leaving out of my top ten since I feel they were done best on TV and I'm going to stick with big screen picks.  I'm also choosing to leave out Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.  Don't get me wrong, they are BEYOND awesome, but with LotR I think it's best to take all three movies as a whole entity and with the HP series I think some of the movies were much better done than others but I don't really want to dissect the series here.

With that preamble, I give you  

Her Book Self's Top Ten Big Screen Movies Adapted From Books 
(In no particular order and with the caveat that I'm sure I've forgotten some that are ultimately awesome.  I apologize for the omissions and look forward to reading lists from everyone else to see what I missed!)

10. The Secret of NIMH (from the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH)
This was one of my favorite movies as a child and it wasn't until after college that I actually got around to reading the book by Robert C. O'Brien.  As a child, I know I overlooked some of the darker portions of the movie, but rewatching it as an adult I realize they did a pretty decent job of referencing some of the more intense portions of the novel - lab rat research for kids! - into the screenplay without making it way too disturbing for the target audience.  (And I sooo would have loved this lunchbox when I was in grade school!!)

9. The Neverending Story (from the book The Neverending Story)
Well, if it wasn't obvious that I was a child of the 80's I'm sure it is now.  The book by Michael Ende is fabulous and imaginative and lovely; and the movie definitely does it justice.  Interestingly enough, the movie actually only covers the first portion of the book (and yes, the movie's sequel dabbles in the next portion) but the book more or less tells two separate tales, so it makes for a natural split.  The movie made me fall in love with the story and I think this is one where I even prefer the film to the text.  I mean, really, who among us saw the film as a child and didn't secretly wish for their very own luck dragon??

8. Interview with the Vampire (from the book Interview With The Vampire)
Fast forward to my high school self who fell in love with this movie.  (I promise it had nothing to do with Brad Pitt, Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas and Tom Cruise....okay well, maybe a little...)  I remember there was a bit of backlash against Cruise playing Lestat - many were set against the image of a blond-haired blue-eyed creature of the night - but I really think he captured the character well with a great mix of sinister malice, restrained violence, flippant arrogance, and a touch of dry humor.  I read the Anne Rice book a few years after seeing the film and I still really enjoy both.

7. Bridget Jones's Diary (from the book Bridget Jones's Diary)
This pick has the distinction that I read Helen Fielding's novel before seeing the film.  I liked the way the quirky humor translated to the screen and, as with Interview, I think the casting was really well done (including a pre-Battlestar Gaius Baltar!).  I found it especially funny that in the novel, Mark Darcy is described as looking like Colin Firth who ended up playing him - complete with tacky jumper - in the movie.  And for an especially sappy note, I saw this one with Tony when we were just friends but after we were dating he charmed my socks off with a "Just as you are" line. 

6. The Princess Bride (from the book The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure)
I actually almost didn't include this one on my list because it almost seems like the "Well, Duh!" choice of the group.  Then it occurred to me that if everyone chose to discount it for that reason then none of the participants of this meme would include it and we would be doing a grand disservice to "Best Book to Movie Adaptation" lists everywhere.  Again, this pick goes back to my childhood steeped in the richness of fantasy movies of the 1980's.  People often ask me if I prefer the Reiner film to the William Goldman book and I'm really uncertain how to answer.  On the one hand, I adore the movie.  Robin Wright and Cary Elwes were enchanting and the supporting cast was glorious.  So much of the brilliance of the book has ingrained itself in pop culture because of the way it was acted.  Few can read "My name is Inigo Montoya..." without hearing the voice of Mandy Patinkin but at the same time, the movie would not be so amazing without such wonderful source material.

5. Fried Green Tomatoes (from the book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe)
I really enjoyed this movie and I think it was very true to the spirit and content of Fannie Flagg's book.  I could certainly raise the complaint that the book held much greater depth and detail, but at the same time I think if everything in the text had been tackled, the movie would have been a bit bogged down.  The screenplay adapters did a good job of selecting the main stories from the book that they wanted to visualize and I think they did a great job of creating a vision that flattered and highlighted Flagg's work.

4. Chocolat (from the book Chocolat)
Despite my appreciation for the movie-tie-in book cover, I didn't select this one solely for the Johnny Depp eye candy factor.  This is the book that introduced me to Joanne Harris and the fabulous genre of magical realism.  I know my memory is failing me a little because I recall that there were plenty of alterations from the book to the screen but I also know that I really liked both the text and the film.  One of the things that I know the movie did a spectacular job on was the confections themselves.  This was a book that literally made my mouth water and the film achieved the same goal (even in the scenes without Johnny Depp). 

3. Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (from The Capture, The Journey, and The Rescue
I really wanted this list to include something that's been in the theaters more recently so I went with the movie based on the first three books in Katherine Lasky's The Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.  (A quick disclaimer, I've only read the first book in the series so obviously the book to movie comparison from my perspective is rather incomplete, but I still have pretty strong reasons for putting this one on my list.)  I had the privilege of not only seeing this movie in the theater but of watching it in 3D.  I know some people don't feel that movies should be judged based on their graphics and computer generated technology, but I think it is these cinematic elements that really set this film apart.  The story may have been just as endearing in classic animation (don't forget I started this list with 1982's Secret of NIMH) yet the visual dessert that came to life with this one really set it apart as excellent.  It's one thing to see owls soaring across the screen in front of you and it's quite another to see the stunning details of each individual feather blowing in the wind!

2. To Kill A Mockingbird (from the book To Kill A Mockingbird)
I don't know that there's much I can say about this book or movie that has not been said before.  Harper Lee's book is amazing.  Rober Mulligan's movie is equally so.  Gregory Peck did not just play the role of Atticus Finch, Gregory Peck was Atticus Finch.  I know I stated "no particular order" in this list, but I'm purposely sandwiching this pick between two visually stunning movies to show that sometimes a beautifully told story with phenomenal acting is all it takes to create a wonderful film.  

1. Jurassic Park (from the book Jurassic Park)
Yes, Michael Crichton, your book was great.  That doesn't mean that a $63 million dollar budget, Steven Spielberg at the helm, and a score by John Williams won't take a great book and turn it into a phenomenally awesome movie!!  Don't get me wrong, I like the book - but I didn't sit through an hour of the book almost peeing my pants because I was certain that a Velociraptor was only seconds away from gnawing off one of my limbs.  I'm glad to have been old enough to see this film in the theater because in terms of CG and sound, it really was like nothing ever done on film before!  The acting was beyond awesome - say what you want about Richard Attenborough, Sam Neil, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Samuel Jackson, and Wayne Knight, personally I thought they were all great choices, but no one can argue that their digital costars stole the show. 

So there you have my choices.    Any that you wholeheartedly agree with?  Any that you're appalled to find I included?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and look forward to hopping around to see what movies/books everyone else chose!  (I'm already thinking of plenty I should have added - The Joy Luck Club, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Watchmen...but I'll stand by my list.)
Thanks again to The Broke and The Bookish for hosting Top Ten Tuesdays and for choosing this topic!  As I mentioned, this is my first time participating in the meme, so thank you also to any new visitors to Her Book Self - I hope you'll stick around, read some of my other content, and maybe even join up as a follower!  Leave a comment saying you stopped by and I'll be sure to check out your site too!

11 Response to "Books on the Big Screen (Top Ten Tuesday)"

  1. Red says:
    February 22, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    The Secret of NIMH was on of my favorite movies when I was little, but it is surprisingly dark. But I think kids can handle it. Love the list!

  2. Katie says:
    February 22, 2011 at 12:24 PM

    I put Fried Green Tomatoes on my list too. I love the book, and of course wished the movie could be twice as long to include everything that makes me love it, but I think the movie is fabulous. I'll never forget that scene with Kathy Bates slamming into the car in the grocery store parking lot. Good stuff.

  3. Anonymous Says:
    February 22, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    My oldest two daughters were on a NIMH kick for about six months straight. They knew the songs and the lines word for word. Quite remarkable considering they were 3 and 2.(The second of the series concentrates on Timmy...)

    I still remember being in a Randall's grocery store and seeing my little Maddie run up to an white haired gentleman and telling him, "Make the most of your life!" (a line from when Timmy is riding on the crow)

  4. Beth S. says:
    February 22, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    I didn't think of Chocolat until after I finished my list. That was an awesome movie.

  5. Anonymous Says:
    February 22, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    Hahaha I love the reindeer jumper scene in Bridget Jones! I actually haven't watched it in a little while but after this top 10 I'm really feeling the need to drag it out again.

  6. curlygeek04 says:
    February 23, 2011 at 6:08 AM

    Jurassic Park is a great pick! Good book but amazing movie, I still love it. I also included Bridget Jones, I love that they got Colin Firth to star in the movie. The book really goes on and on about how everyone's in love with him. I don't know about Neverending Story, I really loved that book. I thought the movie was a good effort but just didn't go all the way there. The dragon was pretty cool though.

  7. Casey (The Bookish Type) says:
    February 23, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    I've really got to watch the Princess Bride movie! I've heard so much about it, but being me I had to read the book first and I LOVED it! But if the movie is really that amazing, I need to give it a go.

  8. Emily (the short one) Says:
    February 23, 2011 at 10:50 PM

    Interesting list! I'd like to do this meme, too, when I get the time. I think The Color Purple would definitely go on mine somewhere!

  9. Anonymous Says:
    March 4, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    Those are some great picks. Some I wouldn't have thought of, like Interview with a Vampire, but I remembering loving both the book and the movie.

  10. Greg McConnell says:
    March 5, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    Lisa, I really like the Jurassic Park pick. For the longest time that was actually my favorite movie. I remember that movie experience in the summer of 1993 was awesome; and then later that summer I read the book. Back in '93 and '94 I recall always answering "Jurassic Park" whenever asked my favorite movie; and in those days, that was a safe pick. But then in the mid- to late-90s, my "safe" answer would occasionally get mocked--either because certain people didn't like Jurassic Park or they felt it was too common of a pick. But it didn't matter. Every time I've ever gone back to watch that movie, I thoroughly enjoy it. And in some ways my appreciation for that movie has grown with time.

    As for The Neverending Story ... hmm... all I'll say is that I loved that movie as a kid. But then when I watched it in college, I could barely make it through. ;-)

  11. Tif Sweeney says:
    March 7, 2011 at 4:19 PM

    Jurassic Park!!!! That is one of my go-to movies! I love it!! I finally got around to reading the book a few years ago and loved it just as much!

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