It isn't always comic-books or young-adult novels that are being adapted into films. In fact, some of the best films ever made were based on books. Here's my top five...
5. Cloud Atlas
Reading the book based on Cloud Atlas, it's almost hard to believe how Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis translated it into a cohesive film. And yet, it works. It absolutely works. Spanning centuries and generations, it tells the interconnected story of thirteen "souls" set across six time periods, ranging from a 19th century ship to a post-apocalyptic future where everybody talks like they're brain-damaged. The film has pretty much split critics right down the middle – I, for one, absolutely loved it – and has been all but snubbed by most of the major Awards ceremonies. And yet, those who have seen and loved it, will tell you how amazing the stories, the performances, the music – everything. If you watch it with a group, there's a good chance half will love it and half will hate it.
4. The English Patient
There's a joke in the cartoon series American Dad! that sums up this film perfectly. They're talking about a firecracker, one of which is called The English Patient. "It's very beautiful, but it takes a long time for an unsatisfying payoff." Nevertheless, The English Patient – based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje – is a sweeping tale of forbidden love in the North African desert before the start of World War II. With a cast of high-grade thesps, Ralph Fiennes, Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas to name a few, and directed by Anthony Minghella, The English Patient harks back to grand old epics like Lawrence of Arabia.
3. The Hunt For Red October
Tom Clancy books are, by and large, very boring to read and you'd usually skim through one on a plane or in a couple of train journeys. However, there was a period during the early 90's when films were being made from his books. The Hunt For Red October is by far the best of them. Directed by John "Die Hard" McTiernan and starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin, it tells the story of a renegade Russian submarine captain who plans to defect to the US during the height of the Cold War. It's all tense stand-offs and convoluted military speak, but a cracking film to watch and Connery gives one of his best on-screen speeches. One ping only, please.
2. A Time To Kill
With Matthew McConaughey back on our screens and reminding us how powerful an actor he is, it's easy to overlook this amazing courtroom drama. Based on John Grisham's book, the story takes place in Alabama as a black man is charged with murdering two hillbillies who raped his infant daughter. With a fantastic cast, including Kevin Spacey, Sandra Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson, A Time To Kill is an intelligent courtroom drama that's on par with A Few Good Men and Kramer Vs. Kramer.
Stephen King has been described as a "hack" by some of his detractors. You can't deny that his books are always entertaining and, for the most part, make for great films. You're also wondering, why didn't I pick The Shining over Misery? Really simple. Stephen King HATED what Stanley Kubrick did to The Shining. So much so that he wrote and produced his own straight-to-TV version of it that two people and a dog watched. Misery, on the other hand, he absolutely loved. And it's easy to see why. Kathy Bates plays "the biggest fan" of writer James Caan, who finds himself trapped after his car crashes during a snowstorm. What follows is a grisly and darkly funny film about obsession and hobbling. If you've never see it and you're squeamish, cover your eyes for that bit.