Best Charles Dickens Adaptations

David Copperfield is wowing audiences, but what else has Dickens dished up for the big screen?
Charles Dickens is one of the pillars of the literary world, and his works have touched millions the world over. Turns out, though, that his old-timey stories of overcoming prejudice and adversity make for pretty great movies. Here’s a list of the best Charlies Dickens adaptations of all time!

The Personal History of David Copperfield


Look, let’s be honest. Dev Patel is practically the perfect man. But he’s really outdone himself here playing David Copperfield, the hero of the infamous Charlies Dickens novel about a kid whose crappy life turns him into a (mostly) excellent human being. Armando Iannucci, who made Veep and The Death of Stalin, has created a new, witty and profound version of this fantastic story. It’s a must-see.


Scrooged


This iconic and bizarre eighties retelling of A Christmas Carol casts Bill Murray as Scrooge… only now, he’s a shifty, sleazy, awful TV exec. All the best comedies have a lot of heart, and Scrooged has a genuinely lovely Christmas message at it’s core. Charlies Dickens had a real gift for showing the human side of awful people, and Ebenezer Scrooge is a perfect example of a redeemable bad guy.


Oliver!


Oliver! is a story about a sad orphan boy. How do you make a story about a depressed kid having a really bad time more cheerful? You turn it into a musical, obviously! And if you’re worried about it’s credentials, it won Best Picture at the 1969 Academy Awards, and was nominated for eleven in total. 


Nicholas Nickelby


One excellent way to freshen up a Charles Dickens story for a movie adaptation? Give it a brilliant cast. The 2003 adaptation of Nicholas Nickelby, the story of a brilliant young man who sticks it to his evil, money-grubbing uncle to save his family, has just that. Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Bell, Anne Hathaway… oh, and the one and only Christopher Plummer as the evil uncle. Charlie Hunnam’s turn as the hero, Nicholas Nickelby himself, kick-started his cinematic career.


Great Expectations


Alfonso Cuaron, director of Gravity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Children of Men, turned out a truly odd Dickens move in 1998. He made Great Expectations and gave it a massive modernization and overhaul, casting Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow as the leads. It also takes place not in 1812 London, but in 1990’s New York. It was divisive, but it was also fresh and unexpected. 


The Muppet Christmas Carol


What kind of a Charles Dickens movie list would be complete without Muppets? The Muppet Christmas Carol is utterly brilliant. It captures everything that makes the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge so profound, and somehow makes it hit even harder by filling the film with Muppets. Oh, and Michael Caine plays Scrooge. If you feel like bawling your eyes out, pop this one on and get your tissues ready.


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