Well, there couldn’t have been a more opportune moment for us to compile this...
... but with Inferno and The Girl on the Train arriving in theatres this Friday, we decided to put together a list of some of the biggest bestselling books that were adapted into blockbuster movies.
The rules are simple and as follows: To keep things fresh and unique, we’re sticking to this century. We’re taking into account the source novel’s popularity, the buzz it generated at the time of publication and the worldwide success of the movie adaptation.
As always, the idea is to compile a fresh, unique list that you wouldn’t ideally find anywhere else. But due to the sheer mass appeal of this genre (there’s no escaping Dan Brown or Stieg Larsson is there?) you’re going to see a lot of familiar titles.
Gillian Flynn’s wrote the book of the summer back in 2012, exploring, among other things, marriage, the economy, and feminism . And then, the genius madman David Fincher got his cold, dark hands on it and made it into a trademark wintery psychological thriller with graphic violence and... dark comedy?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Let’s face it: There’s no way David Fincher was not going to feature at least twice on this list. It’s still debatable which adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s phenomenal book is better - the original Swedish version sort of kick started an entire genre and was probably the more faithful adaptation - but Fincher’s version was pure Fincher: Darkly stylish, with an altered ending that was, among all the depravity, vaguely hopeful. And suggesting Lisbeth eats Happy Meals? Pure genius.
The Da Vinci Code/Angels & Demons
You either love him or you hate him, but Dan Brown isn’t going away anytime soon. His books often get a bad rap for their amateurish prose, but they’re pulp fiction at their best; intricately plotted, globe trotting page-turners with a relatable hero. Yes, the Tom Hanks adaptations were rather murky at times, but so were the books ,right? In any case, that breathlessly labyrinthine plot made up for all the shortcomings, and Inferno has more than just Brown’s dimming relevance to combat when it opens this week. There is also somewhat of a legacy.
Mystic River/Gone Baby Gone/Shutter Island
These films couldn’t be more different, but they’re all based on books written by the same man: Dennis Lehane. But what connects them, despite the themes (family, loss), is the sense of place. These stories are set in and around Boston and range from family drama to kidnapping thriller to psychological mindbender. There’s a reason great directors are attracted to Lehane’s work: Clint Eastwood directed Mystic River, Ben Affleck made his debut with Gone Baby Gone (he’s currently finishing up his second Lehane adaptation Live by Night) and the legendary Martin Scorsese helmed Shutter Island.
Of all the Scandi-crime movies that erupted into existence after Dragon Tattoo, Morten Tyldum’s adaptation of Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters is probably the best. It’s a gory chase thriller, with more memorable scenes than you can count on one hand.
Want more? How about some of these classics?