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10 Best Movies Based on Books

There are a lot of movies based on books. There are very few good movies based on books.

That’s not a knock on Hollywood–it can be challenging to fit a novel’s worth of plot and character development into a few hours of entertainment. That’s why the best films based on books often feel more like a companion piece than a true retelling of a best-selling paperback. Some, like the 2019 movie adaptation of Little Women, play with the story or add in new scenes to appeal to a modern audience. Others benefit from the glitz and glam that Hollywood brings. Netflix’s film version of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, for example, comes with an engaging soundtrack that elevates the romance onscreen.

Below you’ll find some of the best movies based on books available for streaming right now. We also included the real-life novels that inspired them so you can add to your reading list. No chance of boredom here.

1. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

The book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s classic story of love and bad first impressions has been adapted many times over. But this film version, starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, takes a more realistic approach than other film versions. As a result, enemies turned lovers Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy come to life onscreen.

2. If Beale Street Could Talk (2018)

The book: If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk, about a young woman trying to clear the name of her boyfriend after he was wrongfully accused of a crime, is an incredible read. So only someone with a vision like Barry Jenkins, who wrote and directed this adaptation, could bring it to the big screen. The film received numerous awards, including a best supporting actress win at the Oscars for Regina King’s performance.

3. Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

The book: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Where do we even begin with this one? The fashion! The romance! The drama! Constance Wu and Henry Golding lead the romantic comedy about a Chinese American woman who travels to Singapore to meet her boyfriend’s family. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. His family is one of the richest and well-known families in the country, and his mother is not exactly welcoming of her son’s new romance.

4. Gone Girl (2014)

The book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

We could write a dissertation about Gone Girl, and it still wouldn’t be long enough to dive into the complicated issues tackled in the movie. Here’s what you need to know: The David Fincher–directed thriller is a mystery about a husband who becomes a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. The film tackles parenting, manipulation, misogyny, and most of all, marriage. When it comes to movie adaptations of books, this is near the top of the list.

5. A Simple Favor (2018)

The book: A Simple Favor: A Novel by Darcey Bell

Nothing’s simple about A Simple Favor. Perhaps the best part of the crime thriller is Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick’s odd yet enthralling dynamic. You’ll be scratching your head from start to finish as you try to figure out what exactly is going on in the film. 

6. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The book: The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel by Lauren Weisberger

Meryl Streep plays the coldest, scariest, most intimidating boss at the fictional fashion magazine Runway. Anne Hathaway’s character is clueless and unfashionable, and fancies herself a serious journalist. Their characters clash yet somehow find a way to work together. The movie is elevated by the performances, and you might find yourself surprisingly moved at the end.

7. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

The book: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Laura Jean and Peter Kavinsky’s romance is sure to go down as one of this generation’s most popular love stories. The trilogy of teen romantic comedy books by Jenny Han turned Netflix movies are popular for a reason. Yes, there are some common tropes used in the plot. However, the film adaptations somehow still feel fresh, unique, and effortlessly heartwarming.

8. The Harry Potter series (2001–2011)

The book: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Who could have known that the boy who lived would start an international phenomenon? Readers and audiences of all ages have been obsessed with the Wizarding World for decades, and it’s easy to see why: The friendship, the magic, the excitement and the humor are as enthralling in the movies as they are in the books.

9. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The book: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

The highest-rated movie on IMDb, this classic is parodied (and homaged) all over the place, a favorite of both fans and critics. It’s a drama, to be sure, but as far as prison stories go, watchable and even a little hopeful.

10. The Godfather trilogy (1972–1990)

The book: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

The greatest achievement in the history of American cinema? This crime epic has been praised for its performances, filmmaking, quotable lines, and archetypal characters. It’s rich with symbolism and history, but actually a straightforward and pleasant watch. Never meandering or slow, the story is gripping, if devastating.

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