Best Movies Based on Books

Want to know what the best movies based on books are? We know. We read your mind.
Some of the best movies ever made – and we do mean ever – began as books! And while it’s not an easy feat turning a bestseller into a cinematic hit, these are the eight that absolutely nailed it.

Fellowship of the Ring

The first Lord of the Rings is the best in the series by Peter Jackson, but it also floored audiences when it came out. Those of us who’d grown up reading the books by J.R.R. Tolkein were generally pretty stoked by this version of the iconic fantasy story, but people who were new to Middle Earth were instantly obsessed.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban

Undeniably the greatest Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkhaban did something even better than the book. In the book, the time travel plotline was basically smushed right up over the last two or three chapters. In the movie… it’s half the film! Suddenly, it’s Back to the Future with wizards!

The Shawshank Redemption

Based on the best-selling Steven King novel, The Shawshank Redemption is a gritty but uplifting story of a wrongly convicted accountant stuck in a terrifying prison. Honestly, it’s tough to think of many better movies full-stop, let along ones based on books, but it’s a flawless piece of book-to-movie wonderment.

Doctor Sleep

OK, we guess this might be technically cheating, but hear us out. The Shining is regarded as one of the best horror films ever made, but Steven King wasn’t super into how far it strayed from the plot of his book. Doctor Sleep, however, is already getting EPIC buzz, and is a sequel to The Shining, based on his bestselling book. It follows a now grown-up Danny, encountering a terrible new supernatural threat. Word is you’re gonna love it.

Jurassic Park

C’mon, it’s Jurassic Park! Michael Crichton’s book was a huge hit, and having Steven Spielberg himself take a run at a big-screen adaptation guaranteed it was going to be a hit. Oh, and the book totally didn’t have Jeff Goldblum propped up on a table with his shirt open, so we think the movie comes out on top. 

No Country for Old Men

Can you imagine an entire country populated entirely by old men? Gross! Anyway, No Country for Old Men is actually a super gritty, super violent, super dark drama from the Coen Brothers with Javier Bardem as a creepy hitman and Tommy Lee Jones as an old lawman. It’s amazing, and it’s regarded by many as the perfection book to movie adaptation.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Based on the iconic LeCarre spy novel, this is basically the coolest piece of British cinema ever, and the adaptation is pitch-perfect. The level of detail to make sure it feels historically accurate is off the charts, the actors are perfectly cast, and the soundtrack makes you feel like you’re really there.


Did you know Clueless was an adaptation of Jane Austen’s romance novel, Emma? No, seriously! It’s a beat-for-beat retelling of the Austen story, and it is widely regarded as an absolute masterpiece. Sure, it’s marketed as a teenage romcom, but it has all the heart and all the meaning of the book, only with a lot more teenagers.

Forrest Gump

Ahh, the ultimate adaptation. Forrest Gump took a fairly short book and turned it into a sprawling story that had Forrest, as played by Tom Hanks, playing a part in basically all of American’s major accomplishments. Fun fact: in the book series, he ends up going into space! Maybe he bumps into Tom Hanks’ character from Apollo 13 up there?

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