30+ Best Movies Based On Novels

The number of movies based on books is overwhelming, but only a few are good adaptations. 

Even if a great book often finds itself adapted to a mediocre or greatly underwhelming, especially for the readers of the book. 

And within the constraints of the limited running time of movies, a novel-length plot becomes challenging to fit in. 

We often get a movie that mimics the novel story rather than achieving a true retelling or adaptation. 

Still, some great movie adaptations, such as Little Women and many more, present themselves every now and then. 

So, we wouldn’t leave you looking for such movies but rather listing the best movies based on novels that you must watch, explaining a little about the plot to get you excited. 

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Image Source: THR

Director –  Robert Mulligan

Where to watch – Amazon Video, Google Play Movie

Inspired by Harper Lee’s coming-of-age novel, To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 American drama movie that deals with prejudice and injustice. The film is considered a national treasure in America.

Scout and her brother see the atrocities of prejudice as their widowed father, a morally upright and well-respected lawyer, defends a Black man wrongfully convicted of raping a white lady. They get insightful knowledge about bravery, compassion, acceptance, and discrimination.

Atticus Finch, played by Gregory Peck, won an Academy Award for his portrayal, and the American Film Academy named him the best movie hero in a survey that year. 

Little Women (2019)

Image Source: IMDb

 Director – Greta Gerwig

Where to watch –  Amazon Prime Video 

The noticeable freshness of this new “Little Women” is no small achievement given the numerous iterations as TV series, stage productions, and blockbuster movies.

This film features 1933’s marvelous Katherine Hepburn-starred by George Cukor and Gillian Armstrong’s excellent 1994 version—and the numerous TV adaptations, stage productions, and feature films. 

In actuality, Gerwig has always held a distinct auteurial imprint in her artistic expression; this auteurial signature predates even her tractor-trailer directorial debut and is evident in Mumblecore’s and Noah Baumbach’s collaboration equally.

The director liberally injects her trademark buoyancy into a book that she knows from cover to cover, giving the story the lived-in familiarity of “Lady Bird” and the strong female character development and friendship that characterize most of “Frances Ha.” 

She also orchestrates the story’s sections in a harmonious and non-linear way, thus turning her control over the book into gold. 

By doing so, Gerwig explores a bold idea: through the dialogue, she creates between the movie’s two timeframes, she unearths a reflecting feeling of nostalgia and remembrance. 

It is initially a startling riddle and later a source of amazement to read her framework of well-paced flashbacks, studded with dramatic peaks and calming cadences, yet it never disrespects Alcott’s aims.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) 

Image Source: DG

Director – Victor Fleming

Where to watch –  Amazon Prime Video

It is inspired by L. Frank Baum’s novel of the same name, The Wizard of Oz, a 1939 American musical film. Despite not being an early commercial or critical hit, it became among the most lasting family movies ever.

The little Kansas girl Dorothy Gale, who Judy Garland portrays, decides to flee her aunt and uncle’s home with her dog Toto, who is at risk of being put down after biting a neighbor. 

Professor Marvel, a well-intentioned fraudulent fortune teller, convinces Dorothy to return home to her family during a roadside encounter. 

But a tornado knocks her out of it before they can get back together. Whenever she awakens, she and her family are taken to the beautiful Land of Oz, where unusual people such as witches, talking trees, and munchkins live. They are also being brought there with Toto.

When Dorothy’s home falls into Munchkinland in Oz, she quickly finds that it murdered the Wicked Witch of the East, for whom the potent ruby slippers have been magically transferred to Dorothy’s own feet. 

Although the munchkins applaud Dorothy for her unintentional deed, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton), the bad witch’s sister, swears to murder her to revenge her sister and reclaim the potent ruby slippers. 

The Emerald City is where it is thought that a potent wizard would be able to grant Dorothy’s request to return home. Therefore, Glinda, the Good Witch, advises Dorothy to pursue the yellow brick road there.

Sense and Sensibility (1995) 

Image Source: THC

 Director – Ang Lee

Where to watch –  Amazon Prime Video 

The very first and also one of the least popular of Jane Austen’s books, Sense, and Sensibility, was written in 1795 but was not printed for another 16 years until she acquired the nerve to call herself a novelist. 

A mom and her daughters wait complacently as all the exciting men in the area mysteriously depart on missions to London. 

The story was written by a young woman who presumably had little experience of the world, though her fiction demonstrates she managed to miss little that took place on her domestic stage.

The characters in “Sense and Sensibility” rarely express what they mean, which adds to the suspense and mystery of the story. 

Within the female community, there is a lot of gossip, but when it comes to males, the talk is mired in agonizing euphemisms, leaving the ladies to wonder for weeks what was or wasn’t stated.

At the novel’s beginning, the Dashwood estate is given to a frugal male heir who only gives his father’s former wife and her three kids a few hundred pounds a year. 

The daughters of the widow Dashwood (Gemma Jones) are forced to live in a cottage kindly provided by a distant cousin on this modest income after being uprooted from their existence as country aristocracy.

Forrest Gump (1994)

Image Source: THR

 Director – Robert Zemeckis

Where to watch – Amazon Prime Video 

Tom Hanks played a man with cognitive disabilities for 30 years, from the 1950s to the early 1980s, in the 1994 American film Forrest Gump, an incredible story that won six Academy Awards, included the best picture, and was praised by critics and viewers alike.

The movie begins with Forrest Gump telling several individuals seated next to him about his life as he stands on a bench in Savannah, Georgia. 

Through a sequence of flashbacks, the narrative is revealed. In Greenbow, Alabama, Forrest grows up living with his single mother. Although he has a 75 IQ and braces on his legs, his mother instilled in him that he is just like everyone else. 

Jenny is the only youngster who will let Gump sit next to her on his first day riding the school bus. He learns he can sprint after his brackets fall off one day as bullies are pursuing him.

This talent lands him a spot on the high school football team and a football scholarship to Alabama State University. He develops into a straightforward, unselfish adult. When Gump enlists, the American Army sends him to Vietnam. 

He develops strong bonds with Lieutenant Dan, his commanding officer, and fellow trainee Bubba Blue, who convinces Gump that they will run a shrimp boat together once they are discharged from the military.

Schindler’s List (1993) 

Image Source: TG

 Director – Steven Spielberg

If Oskar Schindler had been a traditional hero, standing up for what he believed in, he might have been more straightforward to understand. 

His life is a mystery because of his flaws as a drinker, gambler, and womanizer motivated by avarice and a love for high living.

Here is a guy who seized his opportunity at the start of World War II and fled to Nazi-occupied Poland to establish a business and hire Jews at starvation rates. 

He wanted to be a millionaire. Even by the war’s end, he had put his life in danger, wasted his riches trying to save those Jews, and spent months defrauding the Nazis with a weapons plant that never turned out a single serviceable shell.

Schindler, a towering, powerful guy with a commanding physical presence, is where it all starts. 

He wears fine clothing, frequents nightclubs, and enjoys taking pictures with the military leadership while purchasing caviar and champagne for Nazi commanders and their female companions. 

He proudly has a Nazi party symbol on his buttonhole. He is the appropriate person to know since he has excellent connections in the black market and can obtain brandy, cigarettes, and nylons. 

The authorities are glad to assist him in opening a factory to produce enameled kitchenware for army kitchens. His satisfaction in hiring Jews stems from the fact that their reduced pay will make Schindler wealthy.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)

Image Source: TI

 Director – Andrew Adamson

A 2005 epic fantasy movie based on the original C.S. Lewis book, This same Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, is released by Walt Disney Pictures and sponsored by Walden Media. The movie premiered in movie theatres on December 8 in the UK and December 9 in the US.

It was published on DVD, and a version of the Extended Edition with errors and other things was made available until January 31, 2007. 

It introduced two new characters: Oremus, a devoted Centaur general of Aslan’s army, and Otmin, the Minotaur commander of the White Witch’s army.

Harry Potter Series (2002-2011)

Image Source: TR

 Director – Chris Columbus

Based on J. K. Rowling’s 1998 book of the same name, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a fantasy movie from 2002 directed by Chris Columbus and released by Warner Bros. Pictures. 

Written by Steve Kloves and produced by David Heyman, the movie is the second volume in the Harry Potter film series. 

Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter in the movie, and Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, played by Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, are Harry’s closest pals. 

In the second year of Harry’s studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the Heir of Salazar Slytherin opens the Chamber of Mysteries, letting loose a creature that terrifies the pupils. The movie is the follow-up to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

When Harry Potter is spent the summer with the Dursleys, he encounters Dobby, a house-elf who cautions him against going back to Hogwarts. 

Dobby ruins a crucial supper for the Dursleys, who imprison Harry to keep him from returning to Hogwarts. Harry is saved by Ron Weasley, Fred, George Weasley, and their father’s flying automobile.

The Perfect Stranger (2005)

Image Source: IMDb

 Director – Jefferson Moore, Shane Sooter

The Perfect Stranger is a 2005 independent Christian film adapted from David Gregory’s novel ‘Dinner with a Perfect Stranger’, 

On October 28, 2005, it was released and shown at the Western Film and Television Festival. Pamela Brumley and Jefferson Moore appeared in the movie co-directed by Jefferson Moore and Shane Sooter.

Lawyer Nikki Cominsky is having issues with her marriage. She relocated from Cincinnati, Ohio, and now works for a sizable law company in the Chicago region. 

She extends a romantic dinner invitation to her husband, yet he has already arranged plans to attend a baseball game. She arrives at work disappointed to find a dinner invitation at the same place she had intended to go to with her spouse. 

She is first irritated since she is tired of the local churches’ efforts to recruit new members, but she soon understands that this may be her husband’s attempt at romance.

Great Expectations (1947) 

Image Source: Letterboxd

 Director – David Lean

Being a movie adapted from Dicken’s novels, we know how Dickens’ characters invade your memory, which is one of his many beautiful qualities. 

It is hard to remember if any other author has produced as many memorable characters whose traits almost seem trustworthy to human behavior as Shakespeare. 

When adopting a Dickens novel, a filmmaker discovers that much of the work has already been done.

That is undoubtedly the situation with David Lean’s 1946 picture

Great Expectations has been hailed as the best of all the Dickens adaptations and accomplishes what few adaptations of great literature can enables the creation of visuals on the screen that are not in conflict with those we already have in our heads. 

Lean vividly brings to life some of Dickens’ most famous scenes as if he were reading them to us.

Pip’s encounter with the prisoner Magwitch in the churchyard, Pip’s first encounter with the insane Miss Havisham, and the eerie atmosphere in Mr. Jaggers’ law office, where the walls are covered with the death masks of customers he has lost to the hangman.

Pollyanna (1960)

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 Director – David Swift

Young orphan Pollyanna thinks a cheerful outlook and pragmatism can always overcome life’s most challenging issues.

However, when she moves in with her pessimistic aunt, she meets dejected people who undermine her optimistic view. 

She doesn’t let being disheartened stop her from sharing optimism and joy. However, Pollyanna’s goodwill is tested when a motivated doctor mobilizes the neighborhood to fight against her aunt.

Numerous seasoned actors from cinema and television are cast in supporting roles. Reta Shaw plays Tillie Lagerlof, the cook, and Mary Grace Canfield plays Angelica, the grumpy upstairs maid, in Aunt Polly’s household. In the role of Mrs. Paul Ford, Leora Dana is cast alongside Gage Clarke as Mr. Murg, a mortician. 

Donald Crisp plays Mayor Karl Warren, and Edward Platt and Anne Seymour play Ben and Amelia Tarbell, respectively. Nolan Leary and Mr. Neely by Ian Wolfe portrays Mr. Thomas. In an early scene, director David Swift portrays a firefighter.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

Image Source: MUBI

 Director – David Frankel

A young adult coming-of-age film from the early 2000s is The Devil Wears Prada (2006). With a flair for journalism, young graduate Andrea “Andy” Sachs, played by Anne Hathaway, can secure a position as an assistant at Runway magazine. 

But Andy needed clarification about what it would be like to work with editor-in-chief Miranda Priestly. Andy is forced to change her own to succeed in the rigorous fashion world. 

If she can sustain it for a whole year, she will be able to accomplish her goal of becoming a journalist and find employment anywhere she wants.

It’s a terrific movie with many secret components that elevate it to even greater heights. Anyone who loves reading Vogue or is interested in the fundamentals of the fashion industry should also watch it. 

 The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003) 

Image Source: Peakpx

Director – Peter Jackson

Where to watch – HBO Max or Prime Video

One of the critical works of the twenty-first century is Peter Jackson’s magnum opus, Tolkien’s Adaption. It is a movie where your admiration for it deepens each time you watch it. 

It wraps off a Gilliam study while working as an epic, war, and fantasy movie, so it would be naive to ignore how ‘unfilmable’ this work would look if we still needed to get it. 

The prevailing belief holds that as the years passed following the release of The Lord of the Rings, Jackson got consumed and burdened by technology, which ultimately hurt his career. 

However, this film represents the ideal fusion of live-action and future technologies and is incredibly inventive.

What a tremendous year for that department in 2001—an Oscar production planning nomination here but a defeat to Moulin Rouge at the box office. 

Return of the King will go on to win in almost every category in 2003, serving as a type of lifetime achievement prize for the mammoth project.

The Social Network (2010) 

Image Source: KPBS

 Director – David Fincher

The brilliant computer scientist and Harvard alumnus Mark Zuckerberg began work in 2003 on a radical concept that would eventually become the massive social network Facebook. 

Six years later, he is one of the youngest billionaires ever. Still, Zuckerberg learns that his extraordinary success has both emotional and legal repercussions when he finds himself the subject of two lawsuits, one of which involves a former friend —based on the book “The Accidental Billionaires.”

Harvard student and computer whiz Mark Zuckerberg sat at a table at his computer on a chilly night in 2003, and he immediately started feverishly working on a fresh concept. 

What starts in his dorm room as a modest site among friends quickly develops into a worldwide social media platform and a transformation in communication in a flurry of blogging and programming. 

Mark Zuckerberg is the quickest millionaire in history, having amassed 500 million friends in just six years. Success, however, brings with it both emotional and legal difficulties for this entrepreneur.

Wonder Boys (2000)

Image Source: PI

 Director – Curtis Hanson

The movie “Wonder Boys” is the closest true to life on a college campus that you can think of. It is accurate because it is aware of two things rather than because it reflects academic discussion or campus politics. 

In spite of the fact that part of an emerging and go, the staff really resides there, and many professors continue to function as graduate students for years at a time. 

Michael Douglas plays such a role. His quiet, sensitive, and perplexing performance is his most significant in a long time. 

Grady Tripp is a kid prodigy who is well past his prime. He is an English professor in his mid-50s who produced an intense novel a decade ago, and everyone thinks he is currently experiencing writer’s block.

Throughout a winter literary festival in Pittsburgh, “Wonder Boys” follows him as many personalities move in and out of focus in his emotional viewfinder. 

He just lost his wife. Walter Gaskell, the chairman of the English department, is her superior. Sara, Walter’s spouse, serves as chancellor.

A Beautiful Mind (2001) 

Image Source: Britannica

 Director – Ron Howard

A Beautiful Mind, an American historical film produced in 2001, portrayed the tale of John Nash, an American who won the Nobel Prize for mathematics and whose pioneering research on game theory was, in many ways, eclipsed by years of mental illness. 

Nash’s hallucinatory viewpoint may be noticed in several scenes of the movie, mostly set on the Princeton University campus against a backdrop of Cold War intrigue. 

Ron Howard’s film, partially based on Sylvia Nasar’s 1998 biography of John Nash, received four Academy Awards, winning best picture.

The film starts in 1947 at Princeton, where Nash, Martin Hansen, Richard Sol, Ainsley, and Bender arrived as graduate students. 

Nash gets along with his roommate Charles despite being arrogant and disdainful of his peers. Nash often works alone to complete his studies, but he consents when Charles recommends a break and a trip to a bar. 

Nash’s ground-breaking article on game theory results from a debate with his classmates about how to approach a group of ladies most effectively at the bar.

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Image Source: TBR NM

Director – Jonathan Demme

Filmmaker Jonathan Demme, incredibly versatile, created a gripping psychological thriller around an American obsession: systematic killing in this unsettling adaptation of Thomas Harris’ best-selling book.

Jodie Foster challenges conventional gender roles and provides one of her most memorable performances as FBI trainee Clarice Starling, who enlists the aid of the notorious Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter to learn more about the thoughts of another murderer.

Anthony Hopkins, who serves as her antagonist, is the prototypical antihero—cultured, astute, and viciously murderous—and paints a chilling picture of humanity gone wrong. 

The Silence of the Lambs won the Academy Awards for best film, Director, screenplay, actress, and actor and continues to be a cultural classic. It is a riveting police procedural and an unsettling plunge into a warped brain.

 Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Image Source: MOLC

 Director – Jon M. Chu

Rachel Chu, a native New Yorker, is the focus of “Crazy Rich Asians,” which follows her as she travels with her longtime partner, Nick Young, to Singapore for his best friend’s wedding. 

Rachel is prepared to discover that Nick has omitted a few essential elements about his life since she is both excited about her first trip to Asia and anxious about seeing Nick’s family. 

He turns out to be not just one of the wealthiest families in the nation but also among its most sought-after bachelor. 

Being on Nick’s arm makes Rachel a target, drawing fire from envious socialites and, worse even, Nick’s own critical mother. It quickly becomes apparent that while money cannot buy love, it can certainly complicate matters. ​

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) 

Image Source: YT

 Director – Stephen Chbosky

The movie supports a belief of mine: If you’re too successful in high school, you could get attached to the idea so much that you never discover your true self.

The best-selling young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky, released in 1999 and can now be seen on many shelves in front Of the Catcher in the Rye, served as the inspiration for the movie.

It provides the uncommon pleasure of seeing an author successfully direct his novel. Anyone who likes the novel won’t have any complaints about the film, especially not about the nearly perfect casting.

The tale, which takes place in the early 1990s, is told by Charlie and begins as a series of letters written to a “friend.”

He arrives at high school nervous and insecure and faces the classic freshman dilemma on his first day: Whichever table in the lunchroom will they let and sit at? After being discouraged at numerous tables, he is greeted by two astute and understanding elders.

 Children of Men (2006) 

Image Source: 3BF

 Director – Alfonso Cuaron

Above all else, “Children of Men’s” appearance incites fear in the soul. Is this where we’re all going? The movie takes place in 2027, when various natural catastrophes, armed conflicts, and terrorist attacks have made most of the planet unruly, unfriendly, or chaotic.

With a formidable police state keeping everything in check, Britain stands as an island of resolute order. The last time a human infant was born on Earth was 18 years ago.

There is a lot to say about the plot of “Children of Men,” a film by Alfonso Cuarón that was adapted from a lesser-known book by the mystery novelist P.D. James.

But just as in “Metropolis,” “Nosferatu,” or “Escape from New York,” the tale takes a back seat to the surreal environment we are shown. Guerilla combatants occupy inactive warehouses. Hovels are homes for the homeless.

Caged immigrants are hauled up and imprisoned. There is no guarantee regarding the utilities. The most upsetting thing is that there are no kids. Dogs and cats are the only animals left to be loved and cared for.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Image Source: Letterboxd

 Director – Victor Fleming

In “Gone With the Wind,” the “Old South” stands in for Camelot, and the war is seen as being fought more to exact revenge on Miss Scarlett O’Hara than to overthrow the Confederate and free the enslaved people.

And we’ve known that for a long time; the contaminated nostalgia is parred for the course. But even as “GWTW” approaches its fiftieth anniversary, it continues to be a colossal cinematic milestone because it is a great storyteller.

It was the ideal movie at the ideal time for the narrative it wished to tell. Scarlett O’Hara is a free-spirited, rebellious modern woman, not a product of the 1860s or the 1930s.

The romantics of Fitzgerald’s jazz age, the fearless cinema stars of the day, and the economic realities of the Depressive episodes, which for the first time forced many women to work outside the house, paved the way for her.

 The Godfather (1972)

Image Source: MUBI

Director – Francis Ford Coppola

Since its publication in 1972, the American gangster epic The Godfather, which was based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 best-selling book of the same name, has been hailed as a masterpiece.

The intergenerational drama became an everlasting cultural touchstone thanks to its innovative photography, eerie music, and iconic performances by performers like Marlon Brando and Al Pacino.

The script that Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo co-wrote was honored with a joint Academy Award as director and co-writer. 

The dialogue from the movie, particularly the line “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse,” and moments from the movie were widely referenced in subsequent motion pictures and television programs. 

The score by Nino Rota was considered for an Academy Award. However, it was later discovered that some music was previously written for the 1958 Italian movie Fortunella.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Image Source: TG

 Director – Frank Darabont

The Shawshank Redemption, a 1994 Oscar-nominated film based on a Stephen King short story, is about a man sent to a maximum-security jail in Maine in the 1950s and inspires the other prisoners by demonstrating tenacity and optimism in the darkest of places and under the most trying of circumstances. 

Sadistic guards, dishonest warden, and predatory convicts live in the grimy environment of Shawshank Prison. 

Prison rape is indicated, even if it isn’t explicitly depicted, with allusions and body postures indicating forced anal and oral sex. The inmate is killed by beating guards. A guy with a firearm shoots a prisoner, killing him.

Additionally, there is a scenario when a character must crawl down 500 yards of filthy sewer pipe.

Despite harsh circumstances, the movie also depicts convicts developing a loving friendship network and support and a feeling of endurance and optimism even in the worst circumstances.

The Princess Diaries (2001)

Image Source: IF

Director – Garry Marshall

A coming-of-age comedy movie released in 2001 in the United States by Walt Disney Animation Studios under the direction of Garry Marshall is titled The Princess Diaries. 

The movie, loosely based on Meg Cabot’s 2000 young adult novel of the same name, was written by Gina Wendkos and starred Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway in her feature film debut. 

Héctor Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, Mandy Moore, Caroline Goodall, and Robert Schwartzman round out the supporting ensemble. 

The story follows Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway), a quiet American adolescent who discovers she is a European kingdom’s heir. 

Mia must choose whether to take the crown she has inherited or relinquish it forever under the guidance of her estranged grandmother Andrews, the monarch of the realm.

After reading the book, producer Debra Martin Chase suggested turning The Princess Diaries into a functional movie for Disney. Cabot’s agency was encouraged by the book’s potential for the big screen. 

The Princess of Tribeca was the initial title Disney gave the movie after acquiring the film rights. However, it was changed once the film’s setting was shifted from New York to San Francisco, where most of the shooting occurred throughout September and December 2000. 

Because he thought the plot would make for good family entertainment, Marshall, known for directing several romantic comedies, consented to direct.

Heaven Is for Real (2014)

Image Source: EW

 Director – Randall Wallace

The best-selling novel written by Nebraska pastor Todd Burpo about his son Colton’s purported encounters in paradise, when he was four years old, served as the basis for the faith-based family drama Heaven Is for Real. 

Similar to the book, the movie suggests that little Colton, who never passed away on the operating table, miraculously visited Heaven during the operation, demonstrating the reality of the afterlife. 

Overall, the film doesn’t include much dubious material. However, a few moments depict characters who are hurt or in agony, and one scene features the Burpos’ daughter, who is at school, punching two guys who are making fun of her brother. 

There is also one provocative remark and some kissing and marital tenderness.

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