Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.

Donate

The top 15 film adaptations of 2011

Winter vacation is ideal for catching up on things you’ve deprived yourself of during the autmmn work crunch: sleep, relaxation, home-cooked meals, outings with friends and good books and films.

If you’re indulging in the best literature and entertainment released during the year that just whizzed by, I’d recommend giving the following film adaptations a go.

A few — “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Deathly Hallows,” “Hugo” — are even better than their literary sources.

1. “Contested Will: Who Wrote Skakespeare?” by James Shapiro

Film: “Anonymous”
Cast:
Rhys Ifans, Rafe Spall, Vanessa Redgrave, David Thewlis, Joely Richardson, Xavier Samuel, Jamie Campbell Bower
Director: Roland Emmerich

"Anonymous"

2. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” by Stephenie Meyer

Film: “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1”
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Anna Kendrick, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke, Dakota Fanning, Kellan Lutz, Michael Sheen, Peter Facinelli
Director: Bill Condon

"Breaking Dawn: Part One"

3. “The Descendants” by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Film: “The Descendants”
Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Mathew Lillard
Director: Alexander Payne

"The Descendants"

4. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson

Film: “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”
Cast: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright 
Director: David Fincher

"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

5. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling

Film: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two”
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter
Director: David Yates

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two"

6. “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

Film: “The Help”
Cast: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, Ahna O’Reilly, Allison Janney
Director: Tate Taylor

"The Help"

7. “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick

Film: “Hugo”
Cast: Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley, Emily Mortimer, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law
Director: Martin Scorsese

Hugo"

8. “The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly

Film: “The Lincoln Lawyer”
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo
Director: Brad Furman

"The Lincoln Lawyer"

9. “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis

Film: “Moneyball”
Cast: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill, Robin Wright, Chris Pratt, Stephen Bishop, Brent Jennings
Director: Bennett Miller

"Moneyball"

10. “My Week with Marilyn” by Colin Clark

Film: “My Week with Marilyn”
Cast: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormond, Kenneth Branagh, Pip Torrens, Emma Watson
Director: Simon Curtis

"My Week with Marilyn"

11. “Rabbit Hole” by David Lindsay-Abaire

Film: “Rabbit Hole”
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard, Sandra Oh, Giancarlo Esposito
Director: John Cameron Mitchell

"The Rabbit Hole"

12. “The Rum Diary” by Hunter S. Thompson

Film: “The Rum Diary”
Cast: Johnny Depp, Giovanni Ribisi, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Rispoli, Amber Heard, Richard Jenkins
Director: Bruce Robinson

"The Rum Diary"

13. “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen

Film: “Water for Elephants”
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz, Hal Holbrook
Director: Francis Lawrence

"Water for Elephants"

14. “We Bought a Zoo” by Benjamin Mee

Film: “We Bought a Zoo”
Cast: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Patrick Fugit, Elle Fanning, Colin Ford, Angus Macfadyen, Maggie Elizabeth Jones
Director: Cameron Crowe

"We Bought a Zoo"

15. “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver

Film: “We Need to Talk About Kevin”
Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell
Director: Lynne Ramsay

"We Need to Talk About Kevin"

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Shawn Otto on 12/30/2011 - 09:27 am.

    Speaking as a writer who has done an adaptation or two, I have to say I’m surprised at this article by a book maven that credits the directors, but doesn’t even mention the screenwriters who did the actual adaptations. It’s the screenwriter who has to assess the novel’s strengths and weaknesses, and find a way to translate an often reflective, internal and many times flawed narrative into a filmable dramatic story with a rising narrative spine that an audience will believe and invest in emotionally, that is only about two hours long, and yet that captures the essence and complexity and beauty of the source material. The success or failure of an adaptation has very little to do with the director and everything to do with the screenwriter. It is the screenwriter who is the architect. The director is the building contractor. By the time he or she comes on the scene, the adaptation has already been done. This is why they hand out an Oscar for best adapted screenplay, but not one for best adaptation director.

  2. Submitted by Brad Lundell on 01/02/2012 - 05:55 pm.

    Audra, what about “Hugo” based on the Brian Selznick’s novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret?”

Leave a Reply