There’s nothing worse than going to a movie with a group of friends, only to come out of it and have the Debbie Downer of the group lecture the rest of you on why the book was better. The easy solution? Be that Debbie Downer. I mean, you might as well—its as close as you can get to a universal truth in these days of arguing on the internet: in an improbably large majority of cases, the book was better.
We’ve already covered 17 books coming to theaters throughout 2014. Below, discover 5 more that you must read before they open at a theater near you, provided you want to keep your smug sense of superiority intact. (I know I do!)
Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn (September 1)
Director: Gilles Paquet-Brenner
Stars: Charlize Theron, Chloë Grace Moretz, Nicholas Hoult
Yeah, it’s shaping up to be a pretty good year for Gillian Flynn—a month before Gone Girl hits theaters, we’ll be able to see an adaptation of her 2009 novel Dark Places, about a woman who fears she was wrong when she accused her brother of the decades-old ritual murder of their family members. Though the director (best known for films in his native France) is a bit less high-profile than David Fincher, the film landed Charlize Theron as the lead.
Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found, by Cheryl Strayed (TBA)
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Stars: Reese Witherspoon
I haven’t read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about her 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, but the caliber of talent attached to the film adaptation has definitely piqued my interest: Reese Witherspoon snapped up the rights around the time the book was published, and landed writer Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) to pen the screenplay and Jean-Marc Vallée, whose Dallas Buyers Club was just nominated for six Academy Awards, to direct.
All You Need is Kill, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka (June 6)
Director: Doug Liman
Stars: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt
The adaptation of this slim Japanese sci-fi novel lost its cool title on the way to the screen (it’s being released as the rather generic Edge of Tomorrow), but kept the premise—it’s the Groundhog Day–esque story of a human soldier in a war against an alien race who keeps dying and waking up to relive the same disastrous day over again. Tom Cruise fills a role originally tailored for Brad Pitt.
Horns, by Joe Hill (U.S. release TBA)
Director: Alexandre Aja
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe
Radcliffe is likely to shed the last vestiges of Harry Potter with the title role in this adaptation of Joe Hill’s supernatural thriller about a misfit who, after a night of drinking, wakes up with horns growing out of his forehead—horns that give him the ability to read the sins of all he touches (which gives you a hint how he got them). Complicating matters is the fact that he’s been accused of the brutal murder of his girlfriend, and is the only one who can find the real killer. Director Alexandre Aja is best known for brutal slasher films, so this could be a frightful one indeed.
Noah (March 28)
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman, Emma Watson
Following the rapturous reception of Black Swan (and its astounding box office success), Darren Aronofsky could have made literally any movie he wanted. That he chose a $130-million adaptation of the Biblical story of Noah dumbfounded many (and invited a million “the book was better” jokes). Once the trailer was released, the internet widely dismissed it as a throwback to the stilted Hollywood Bible epics of yore. But it’s my most anticipated movie of the year, not only because I love all of Aronofsky’s obtuse, alienating films (including Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, and The Wrestler), but because the story of Noah has some really weird parts you probably don’t remember (just google “nephilim”), and I’ve read some crazy rumors about what didn’t make the trailers (for instance, Nick Nolte was recently cast as the voice of a fearsome six-armed angelic being).
Which book are you racing to finish before it hits theaters?