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Top 10 Best Movies Based on Books

Literature has long been an inspiration for many films since the medium inception. Thus, a long list of films owes their stories from books and novels.

Don’t believe us? Check out this list of top 10 movies based on books.

Top 10 Best Movies Based on Books

Forrest Gump (1994)

best movies based on books Forrest Gump (1994)
Tom Hanks and Robin Wright in Forrest Gump (1994)

Did you know that everybody’s favorite go-to film Forrest Gump was actually an adaptation of a 1986 novel of the same name?

While certain character idiosyncrasies were added in the film, it remains an almost faithful adaptation of its source material. In the film, Tom Hanks stars as the titular Forrest Gump, a slow but charming man who often finds himself in the middle of historical events including fighting in the Vietnam War.

The film and the book are both well-loved by fans. However, the film also holds the distinction of winning six Oscar awards. It is one of the most popular movies based on books.

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

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Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

The world is first introduced to the infamous cannibal serial killer with a doctorate, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in Silence of the Lambs (1991) an adaptation of a Thomas Harris novel of the same name.

The film, first of the Hannibal series, is based on the second book in Harris’s Red Dragon series of novels which also feature the infamous cannibalistic antagonist.

The Silence of the Lambs is also popular for being the only horror movie to ever win the coveted Best Picture Award at the Oscars.

No Country For Old Men (2007)

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Josh Brolin in No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country For Old Men (2007) is a Coen brothers adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2005 novel of the same name.

This part neo-noir thriller, part neo-Western film is also widely believed to be the best movie that the Coen brothers ever made together. The film and the book tell the story of a cat and mouse chase between a Vietnam veteran and a Texas welder set in the 1980s Texas desert landscape.

As expected, the film was both a critical and commercial success upon its release taking home four Academy Awards that year including one for best director for the filmmaking pair. No Country For Old Men is one of the best movies based on books.

One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

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Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) stars Jack Nicholson as Randle McMurphy, a man who fakes mental illness in order to escape criminal conviction. The film is adapted from Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel of the same name.

It also stars Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched the film’s main antagonist who makes life harder for the mental patients at the institution.

The film was a critical success winning the five top categories at the Oscar Awards including Best Picture. Unfortunately, it is also widely known that author Kesey wasn’t too happy about how this adaptation turned out.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

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Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Another excellent film based on other works of fiction is The Shawshank Redemption (1994). The film is based on a short story by Stephen King which tells the story of a man who is wrongfully imprisoned at the Shawshank prison for allegedly murdering his own wife and child.

The film, which often finds itself listed in best movies of all time lists, shows how the protagonist’s new life in prison and his friendship with Red, a long-term inmate exquisitely played by Morgan Freeman.

Although it initially flopped in the box office, not even earning enough to break even on its budget. it was well-received by critics and would later on become a favorite by film buffs and critics alike.

The Shining (1980)

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Jack Nicholson in The Shining (1980)

The Shining (1980) is the second Stephen King novella adaptation on our list of best movies from books.

Master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick brought the King’s horror bestseller to life in this incredible film about a family who is trapped in the insidious Overlook Hotel. All hell breaks loose when the father Jack Torrance finally snapped and decided to kill his wife and kid on the urging of the evil and malevolent spirits that live in the hotel.

The film is often regarded as one of the best horror movies ever made and the best film adaptation of any King work. Unfortunately, the author himself isn’t too happy with how the film turned out.

Fight Club (1999)

movies based on books Fight Club (1999)
Brad Pitt and Edward Norton in Fight Club (1999)

Before Fight Club (1999) became a cult classic that college dudes quote when they’re drunk, it was a novel by contemporary author Chuck Palahniuk.

It stars an ensemble cast of the 90’s biggest actors like Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Jared Leto and Helena Bonham Carter.

The film and book follow the story of Tyler Durden, played by Norton, [SPOILER ALERT] a man who is suffering from dissociative personality disorder. The film is famous for its plot twist revealed at the end of the film which confirmed that Pitt’s character is a part of Norton’s own troubled psyche.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1965)

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Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

If you went to school in the US, chances are high that you’ve already watched this film and this book in English class.

Harper Lee’s 1960’s debut novel of a kid coming of age in a Southern town has become one of America’s most beloved classics.

Its film adaptation is directed by Robert Mulligan and was both a critical and commercial success upon its release in 1962. It is widely agreed that the film was approved by the book’s author herself as she states in one of her few interviews praising the actor who played Atticus Finch for his great performance.

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

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Malcolm McDowell, Warren Clarke, and James Marcus in A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Here’s another film adaptation by Stanley Kubrick.

Here he adapts Anthony Burgess’s controversial book about a future chaotic London where delinquent violence and crime run rampant. In the film, we follow a gang of teenage boys whose pastime is to break into houses to assault its occupants.

The adaptation was described by Burgess as “brilliant, even so, brilliant that it might be dangerous”. However, the public isn’t so welcoming of the film given its portrayal of extreme violence and abuse. A Clockwork Orange is one of the 70’s best movies based on books.

The Godfather (1972)

movies based on books The Godfather (1972)
Marlon Brando and James Caan in The Godfather (1972)

Of course, a list of best movies based on books is not complete without a mention of this crime classic film.

The book and film that revolutionized the mob genre, Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather is also one of the best and most influential movies of all time.

Holding the honor of being one of the few ‘untouchable’ films, it’s safe to say that almost everyone agrees of its status as one of (if not) the greatest films ever created.

The film is notable for taking an inside look at the world of mafia crime through the story of a crime family. It would later on, inspire a string of crime and gang films that pay homage to it.


What do you think of the movies included on our list of the best films based on books? Don’t hesitate to tell us in the comments below!

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