With the eagerly anticipated Life of Pi and The Hobbit set to be released in the coming weeks, we thought it was a good time to look at the best movie adaptations of classic novels. Has your favourite made the list?
1. Lord Of The Rings
Several directors tried and failed to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy epic to the big screen until Peter Jackson came along and showed them how it was done. The Kiwi was relatively unknown until he got the Lord of the Rings gig but his stunning adaptation catapulted him onto the Hollywood A-List. New Zealand was magnificently transformed into Middle Earth and the world soon became enthralled with elves, orcs and the dastardly Gollum. I think it's safe to say we cannot wait for The Hobbit and the production couldn't be in safer hands.
2. Mystic River
Boston writer Dennis Lehane has had quite a few of his brilliant novels made into movies (including Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island) but for me Mystic River remains the most memorable. Clint Eastwood helmed this story of three childhood friends with a troubled past from an Irish corner of Boston who reunite when one of their daughters is murdered. Sean Penn is astonishing as the anguished father and won the Best Actor gong for his portrayal. Lehane's historical opus The Given Day is rumoured to be next in line for production, with Sam Raimi attached to direct.
3. American Psycho
Investment banker Patrick Bateman has more money than sense, a questionable taste in music, and likes to murder people in his spare time. This eerily accurate adaptation vividly recaptures the materialistic 80s and Christian Bale absolutely nails the soulless main character. Author Bret Easton Ellis penned this controversial modern classic and he hasn't produced anything half as good since.
4. The Shining
We could have filled this list solely with Stephen King entries, such is the genius of the master storyteller, and many of his novels have made great movies (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and Stand By Me to name but a few). The Shining stands out as one of the very best - the tale of a writer (Jack Nicholson) who becomes caretaker at an isolated hotel and slowly loses his mind. King famously hated Stanley Kubrick's version of his chilling horror story but we reckon he should take another look - it's masterpiece of tension and impending doom.
This is one movie that arguably outdoes the novel it's based on. Ian McEwan's critically acclaimed tale was deftly brought to life by English director Joe Wright back in 2007, winning several awards in the process. It tells the story of a couple in wartime England whose lives are changed forever by a young girl's false accusation. There are a number of superb performances in the film, including a strong turn from Keira Knightley and a breakout role for Carlow's Saoirse Ronan.
6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
This revolutionary novel from Ken Kesey in the early 60s was made into an Oscar-winning movie in 1975. It tells the tale of a drifter called McMurphy who checks himself temporarily into a mental hospital in a bid to avoid prison. His plans are scuppered however by the tyrannical Nurse Ratched and so he sets about stirring up trouble with the help of the other patients. In the book McMurphy is a red-haired Irishman but such is the brilliance of Jack Nicholson's performance it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role.
7. High Fidelity
Who doesn't love a good list? We certainly do here at entertainment Towers! In High Fidelity we follow the ups and downs of Rob Gordon, record shop owner and compulsive list-maker, which include his top five dream jobs, top five episodes of Cheers and top five most memorable breakups (one of which he is currently going through). This bestselling Nick Hornby book was successfully transported from London to Chicago with the excellent John Cusack in the lead role. He is also ably supported by Jack Black, Tim Robbins and a killer soundtrack.
8. To Kill A Mockingbird
You may have had to read this book for school - indeed it is widely recognised as one the finest novels of the 20th century. No pressure on the movie then! As it happens, the film adaptation is superb. Gregory Peck won a deserved Oscar for his role as Atticus Finch, a southern lawyer who defends a black man against a false assault allegation and teaches his kids Scout and Jem a few truths in the process. Author Harper Lee never published another novel, but when you absolutely nail it first time out, why bother?
9. The Princess Bride
The classic comedy adventure was written by S Morgenstern, a pen-name for Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman, whose script credits include Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and All The President's Men. The delightful film is also popular with all ages and has become a cult favourite in recent years. The story itself is a fresh take on the age old damsel-in-distress plot, with plenty of princesses, giants and pirates thrown in for good measure. Master fencer Inigo Montoya is played by Mandy Patinkin, who you may also know as lovable old Saul from Homeland.
10. Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk's incendiary debut novel was vividly brought to life in the one of the most controversial movies of the 90s by director David Fincher. It seems surprising now that it was not a box office hit, audiences perhaps confused by a botched marketing campaign, but it has since become rightly established as a modern classic. Brad Pitt and Edward Norton hit career highs as a mischievous duo that set up an illegal fight club and a resulting underground revolution. Interestingly, the book's ending was changed significantly in the movie and Palahniuk has since mentioned that he likes Fincher's version better than his own.
By: Peter Boyle