Sometimes they get it right

Is there anything worse than a book changing its cover art to coincide with the release of a movie? Any book purist will tell you, the book is always better. Except, when it’s not. Sometimes a book to movie adaptation is just as good: when casting is just perfect, when the scenes play out on screen just as they did in your imagination, and when you actually enjoy a film more.

Here are a few of those times. And frankly, in some of these examples, the adaptation is even better than the book.

The Devil Wears Prada

We could simply say “Meryl Streep,” and be done with it, but that incredible casting wasn’t the only thing that made the film adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada—we’ll say it—better than the book. The film adaptation was more daring; Andy (Anne Hathaway) hooks up with a super-hot author on her Paris trip instead of just flirting, Miranda chooses Andy over Emily to attend the fashion week trip (in the book Emily just gets sick), and the movie provides the closure the book didn’t (Meryl’s subtle smile in the last scene!). This movie is constantly on TV, and we bet there are many, many people watching it every time.

The Silence of the Lambs

'Silence of the Lamb's is a great book to movie adaptation
Strong Heart Productions


Is there a more perfectly horrifying film than The Silence of the Lambs? I saw this movie in 1991 when I was a senior in high school. I remember walking out of the movie theater and wishing I could immediately erase the memory from my brain—particularly the scene where serial killer Buffalo Bill lures his victim into his van. It seemed like something that could happen so easily, and it made the outrageous events that followed—serial killer Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) helping a young FBI agent (Jodi Foster)—somehow more believable. The perfect pacing of the film and the development of characters all aligned with the novel, making the adaptation just as good as the book.


Misery marked the second time Rob Reiner directed a movie adaptation of a Stephen King novel; the first was Stand By Me, based on King’s novel The Body. Frankly, both movies are a work of art. The screen version somehow manages to be less gory than the book, but the perfection of casting and location here makes the movie work so well. Kathy Bates plays a perfect Annie—a woman so obsessed with her favorite character in a book series that she essentially kidnaps the author to bring him back to life. Bates won an Oscar for her performance—and James Caan was perfect as her author victim, Paul Sheldon.

Fleishman is in Trouble


Everything about the book Fleishman is in Trouble rests on the timing of realizing who the narrator is and whose point of view you should, as a reader, be minding. I was so skeptical that a television adaptation would be able to get this right, but this one did. Author Taffy Brodesser-Akner adapted the novel for the screen and served as Executive Producer for this perfect adaptation starring Lizzy Caplan as Libby Epstein (the reluctant narrator), Jesse Eisenberg as Dr. Toby Fleishman, and Clare Danes as Rachel. And yes, it was just as good as the book.

Big Little Lies

It almost isn’t fair to compare the book to the adaptation here, thanks to Laura Dern. Her perfect portrayal of Renata is alone enough to merit the claim that the TV adaptation of Big Little Lies succeeded in the almost impossible task of being better than the book it was based on. The way the TV show whittled down the main characters to focus on the perfect casting was also brilliant; the book had way more characters to juggle. Reese Witherspoon, Zoe Kravitz, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley along with Dern, were a force of a group to share a screen. The perfection only lasted a season though, thanks to a producer shake-up in season two that led to some choppy editing and usurped the plans of the season’s female producer Andrea Arnold.

Related: True Crime Docuseries Moms Can’t Get Enough Of

Interview with a Vampire

'The Interview with the Vampire' is a great book to movie adaptation.
Warner Bros.


Anne Rice herself wrote the screenplay for the 1994 film adaptation of her novel Interview with a Vampire. so it’s no wonder it was absolute perfection. The movie stars Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt and Brad Pitt as Louis de Pointe du Lac. Paramount purchased the rights to the book before it was published in 1976—and it would take nearly 20 years to finally come to life on film. A young Christian Slater? An even younger Kirsten Dunst? Add a gorgeous and dark New Orleans for the setting and who wouldn’t fall in love with this adaptation? Cruise played a perfectly sadistic Lestat to Pitt’s ever-trying-to-reform-himself Louis, and though the book was met with less than stellar reviews, the movie earned immediate acclaim.

Practical Magic

If you’ve yet to dive into Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic series, what are you waiting for? Practical Magic follows the modern-day descendants of a long line of witches who’ve been cursed to never allow love into their lives. If they do, the people they love are met with a tragic end. Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman played Sally and Gillian Owens so perfectly, even a devout fan of the books would be enthralled. And the location was to die for! The Owens house! That kitchen! And the casting was perfection for the rest of the characters, too. Stockard Channing and Dianne Wiest were perfect aunts, and by the end of this movie, you’d be convinced that magic is everywhere.

Where the Crawdads Sing

The film adaptation of Where the Crawdads Sing does an amazing job of staying true to the book, the one big difference of course being Kya’s pursuit by the police starting so early. But it sets up Kya being a first-person narrator so well you have to forgive the filmmakers for tweaking the timeline. Jumpin’ plays a larger role in the film adaptation, but the nod to all the racism he dealt with in the book is absent in the movie. But with so much ground to cover—the book essentially spans a lifetime—the movie does such a masterful job of drawing you into the suspense and larger questions of the book. This is a not-to-miss read, and the movie should be on your list as well.

The Leftovers



This HBO adaptation is based on the Tom Perotta novel of the same name. The premise: three years prior, two percent of the world’s population has vanished in an event called “The Departure,” and those left behind are tasked with wondering where their families are, how to move on, and why they were left behind. The book deals with the concepts of grief, loss, religion, and meaning so beautifully it was hard to imagine that an adaptation could be as successful, but this one is. The show follows the Garvey family and a network of their close friends. It starts as more of a supernatural mystery, but the greater themes of the plot (the search for meaning, humanity, and happiness) surface as the seasons progress. Justin Theroux and Amy Brenneman anchor the all-star cast.

The Godfather

You have to read the book! is a common response when someone says they love a film adaptation. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is one of those books that’s been overshadowed by the success of the movie adaptation. Director Francis Ford Coppola’s version didn’t get lost in as many minor characters and peripheral storylines as the book, and by laser-focusing on the Corleone family, specifically Michael and his father, Don Vito, viewers are so invested in this family, they easily commit to nearly three hours per installment. Not to mention the that Godfather Part II has been on the 100 greatest films of all time list for decades and is known as the best sequel—ever.

Related: 14 Coming-of-Age Movies That Should Be Required Viewing

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