Lights! Camera! Adaptations!
Do you know what my favorite kind of movie is? The kind that’s based on books. And 2014 is chock-a-block with cinematic adaptations of some of your favorite novels, nonfiction, and naptime reading. Below are some of our most-anticipated literary Hollywood productions, in order of release date. Adjust your calendars as necessary to make time to turn a few pages before these beauts hit (or at least leave) theaters:
A Most Wanted Man, by John le Carré (January 19)
Social commentary, espionage, and Philip Seymour Hoffman—what more could you ask for? Inspired by the true story of a Turkish citizen arrested and eventually held at Guantánamo Bay, this thinking thriller is pure le Carré and ties together global strings in the War on Terror, while humanizing those caught in its web.
The Monuments Men, by Robert M. Edsel (February 7)
You’ve probably seen the trailers for Monuments Men, and noticed the menagerie of highly regarded, critically acclaimed male actors that comprises its cast (Clooney, Damon, Murray, Goodman, Dujardin—and Cate Blanchett). Adapting Edsel’s nonfiction exploration of the same name, this merry band of A-listers is on an ultra-specific mission in World War II: preventing Hitler from destroying thousands of years’ worth of artwork and cultural output.
Vampire Academy, by Richelle Mead (February 14)
Blood-sucking teens, you say you’ve done this before. But in Mead’s series about a school for vampires and their half-human guardians (Dhampirs), you also get a little butt-kicking and a biting (sorry I’m not sorry) sassiness. Mix your Twilight with a dash of Gossip Girl, let simmer, and enjoy.
Winter’s Tale, by Mark Helprin (February 14)
What could be more satisfying on Valentine’s Day than a forbidden early, early spring-winter love story? This tale of magical realism centers on a thief, a botched burglary, and the terminally ill heiress he falls in love with in the process.
In Secret, based on Thérèse Raquin, by Émile Zola (February 21)
Hell hath no fury like a Draco scorned, and believe you me, his mother (Jessica Lange) is going to hear about this! In Zola’s story of “The Tell-Tale Dead Husband,” young Thérèse (Elizabeth Olsen) is unhappily married off to her sickly cousin Camille (Tom Felton, best known as Draco Malfoy). Having traded up in lackeys,
Malfoy Camille’s BFF is the hunky Laurent (Oscar Isaac)—and thus an affair is born. There are loins aflame, an ill-advised murder plot, and Jessica Lange eyebrow-arching. Bon appétit.
A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby (March 7)
This dark comedy introduces the suicidal Breakfast Club. The four protagonists meet at the top of a colossally high building in London on New Year’s Eve, all intent on jumping. After sharing their stories with each other, the quartet decides to come down from the building alive. And then the hard task of living begins.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth (March 21)
If you don’t know what all the kids are talking about, now’s your chance to learn. Divergent has taken the YA world by storm with its story of a populace differentiated by virtues (The Giver meets Sorting Hat) and the 16-year-old girl who doesn’t fit—or is, as they say, divergent.
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (June 6)
Let us hope there are tissues handed out with every ticket to Green’s sobfest. Teenage romance sparked in a cancer support group is an ultra-specific niche to fill, but it broadly falls under the category of Ugly Cry. And I anticipate Shailene Woodley, fresh off her Divergent turn, being an impeccable Hazel.
The Hundred-Foot Journey, by Richard C. Morais (August 8)
This tale of rival French restaurants lists the following names under the producer title: Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey. So there’s no shortage of firepower here. The life of Indian immigrant–turned–Parisian chef is succulent and vivid, his adventures flavorful. There’s no way you’re going to feel fulfilled with that jumbo tub of extra-butter popcorn.
The Giver, by Lois Lowry (August 15)
Schoolchildren of the world, rejoice! Lowry’s YA dystopia is finally making the leap to the silver screen, and i’s been worth the wait: Jeff Bridges takes up the eponymous role, and Miss Oscar herself, Meryl Streep, presides over the Sameness with her usual ruthless efficiency as the Chief Elder.
This is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper (September 12)
Who says you have to wait until Thanksgiving for a heaping helping of familial dysfunction? Tropper’s Foxman family comes to a head as it sits shiva for its lost patriarch. It’s a slightly more heartwarming version of August: Osage County. And Tina Fey will be there.
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner (September 19)
It is the year of youthful dystopias. This time the unpleasant mystery centers on Thomas, who awakens one day, sans memory, in a large maze with a gaggle of other Lost Boys. And then a girl shows up for the first time, and everything turns upside down.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn (October 3)
This portrait of the Marriage of the Century was always destined to catch Hollywood’s eye, and its release is nigh, just in time to crank that autumnal chill up about 10 notches. For those of you who had a throw-the-book-at-the-wall moment after reading the ending, good news: Flynn’s written a whole new one! For readers who relished the polarizing conclusion, well, maybe Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as Nick and Amy Dunne will make you like the new one, too.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst (October 10)
Yes, it was 32 pages. No, I’m not sure how Alexander’s travails translate into a feature-length film. But stranger things have happened—like Where the Wild Things Are.
Dracula Untold, based on Dracula by Bram Stoker (October 17)
When he’s not playing Bard in The Hobbit (see below), Luke Evans is sucking some blood as Vlad Tepes. He’s certainly a different Dracula than has been offered in the past, so that’s exciting, at the very least.
Mockingjay (Part 1), by Suzanne Collins (November 21)
So it begins, the first of two parts in the Hunger Games saga’s final chapter. Let’s watch Katniss’ angst bloom forth on the screen like the fragile, rank jimsonweed it is.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkien (December 17)
This is the movie adaptation that never eeeeeeends. It just goes on and on, my Precious friends. With the third of three Hobbit movies taking its bow, Peter Jackson will leave Middle-earth for the final time—until he decides to embark on a biopic trilogy of Tolkien’s life. (Call me, Peej. I have ideas!) And what better way to end it all than by killing that gosh-darn Sherlock dragon.