Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Are these the 12 Best Book-to-Film Adaptations of 2011?

I just swiped this post written by Kristin Fritz for Word and Film - is it stealing when you give credit where credit is due? Anyway, she pretty much covers the territory in the discussion of book vs movie 2011 so let's see what she has to say. And honestly, anytime I can find a legitimate reason for using a picture of Ryan Gosling, I am just soooo happy to do so. I'll be posting my comments in RED. Join us! Leave a comment, let me know what you think too.

12 Best Book-to-Film Adaptations of 2011

December 26, 2011

12 Best Book-to-Film Adaptations of 2011
Mia Wasikowska in "Jane Eyre"/Photo © 2011 Focus Features; Ryan Gosling in "Drive"/Photo © 2011 FilmDistrict; Kate Winslet in "Mildred Pierce"/Photo © 2011


As the year 2011 winds down and we begin to look ahead to awards season, let’s take a moment to look back at the year in adaptations. And what a year it was. High drama met high-brow in more than a few book-to-film/tv adaptations, and gave us plenty of fodder for the “What’s better – the book or movie?” conversation. Herewith, in no particular order, the dozen productions from television and theaters that Word & Film considers the best of this year. Take a read through our picks and then agree with us — or argue with us — below.

“Drive”
To say that “Drive,” based on the book by James Sallis and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, was captivating would be the understatement of the year. This Los Angeles-based, noir-esque surrealist escapade was brutal and bloody – and beautiful. The pairing of Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan is one worth revisiting – as is the soundtrack.  I absolutely agree! I thought the movie was incredibly over the top violent but at the same time, lovely and lyrical. Someone I know called it "a poem". I'm saddened but not surprised that this Cannes darling isn't getting more attention now - the violence turned a lot of people off and it didn't have enough action for guys looking for a car chase movie! Cliff Martinez score is hypnotic. I didn't read the book by James Sallis.

“Mildred Pierce”
This was, perhaps, the role Kate Winslet was born to play. Todd Haynes’ remake of the 1945 film starring Joan Crawford, based on the book by James M. Cain, was nominated for myriad Emmy Awards, and it was Ms. Winslet and co-star Guy Pierce who took home the statuettes for their roles. I didn't see this one.

“Jane Eyre”
Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of the Bronte classic Jane Eyre was visually stunning and dramatically breathtaking. It was also somewhat of a surprise, as Fukunaga’s work on “Sin Nombre,” while brilliant, sat on the opposite end of the genre spectrum. Ultimately, Mia Wasikowska’s Jane and Michael Fassbender’s Rochester got under our skin and into our hearts – as Jane and Rochester are historically wont to do.
I'm sooo ashamed. I didn't see this one either. I read the book years ago, need to re-read.

“The Descendants”
One of the more recent additions to the 2011 adaptation lineup, Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel of a tragically befallen father grappling with two exasperatingly infuriating daughters, an inheritance like no other, and a comatose wife, translates perfectly to the big screen. Alexander Payne guides George Clooney, newcomer Shailene Woodley, and the rest of the stellar cast through all the right choices, culminating in a tissue-clutching slice-of-life experience.
I'm not sure what she means by "the rest of the stellar cast". Matt Lillard as the married lover isn't exactly "stellar" by conventional standards BUT he was quite good. Still it is George Clooney's movie and Shailene Woodley's movie and they were breathtaking. Clooney was frazzled, broken, shellshocked, mature. A trace of how he was at the end of Up in the Air comes to mind. Woodley is authentic, luminous, heartwrenching. I think Payne is a bit on the arrogant side but somehow between him, Clooney and Woodley, they worked magic. I LOVED this book and I LOVED this movie.

“One Day”
Though the critics didn’t love it, “One Day” was one of the adaptations we were most excited for, having fallen in love with the story of Dex and Emma in David Nicholls’ bestselling novel of the same name. It was indeed one of those movies that stayed quite true to the pages of the book – and Patricia Clarkson’s performance as Dex’s ailing mother was classic Clarkson, in all the right ways.
I can't tell - did she like the movie or didn't she? All I know is I am a fool for love and love stories especially love stories that don't end "happily ever after". I ADORED this book. I was afraid to see the film - I heard such negative reviews - but it will finally be arriving in my mailbox in a red envelope One Day this week. Unless my son gets his hands on my DVD queue before they ship it!

“The Help”
Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 bestselling novel, which was initially rejected by 60 literary agents, hit the big screen in 2011. The movie, starring Emma Stone as Skeeter and Viola Davis as Aibileen, was a huge success, pulling in nearly $200 million. The film was beautifully brought to life by director Tate Taylor, who grew up with Stockett.
Great book. Good movie. I thought they went in a little bit too much for campy comedy in the film without balancing it enough with the truly terrifying fight of the civil rights movement. I also think all the buzz about Viola Davis is a bit overdone - she is an amazing actress - this part was a walk in the park for her. It's a shame that Hollywood hasn't opened its doors all the way for well written parts for 1) women 2) black men and women 3) women who happen to be black.

“Game of Thrones”
Expectations for HBO’s undertaking of adapting George R.R. Martin’s epic first novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series only grew higher as the buzz grew louder leading up to the early-2011 series premiere. HBO had quite the dream team of directors assembled to guide the series through its first season, and with George R. R. Martin himself at the writers’ table, the series exceeded our greatest hopes. And now we wait with bated breath for the premiere of season two.
Our son loves it. I've neither read the book nor seen the show.

“A Dangerous Method”
Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen brought their incredible talents together and took on the intimidating roles of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. Based on the book A Most Dangerous Method by John Kerr, this is the story of their collaboration, friendship, and their later feud – over a woman, no less.
I'm not reading this. Did you? I will have to see it but I can't find it playing ANYWHERE!

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
We’d seen stills and editorial spreads of the American iteration of Stieg Larsson’s Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, brought to life by Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. But no preview could have prepared us for the onscreen pairing of these two and while Niels Arden Oplev’s version was so close to perfection, Fincher’s version has earned its place alongside it.
I have to agree with Kristin's assessment. While it was superfast, I think David Fincher's version of the book EVERYONE LOVED (didn't they?) was a spectacular addition to the Millenium family. I liked seeing Daniel Craig as a thoughtful and sexy intellectual, and Rooney Mara was stunning. Strong, authentic, not a single false note. A winner in my book.

“Project Nim”
We were biased going into this one – it’s chimps, after all. But with James Marsh (“Man on Wire”) running the show for the adaptation of the book Nim Chimpsky by Elizabeth Hess, we felt justified in getting our hopes up.  This story of a chimp raised as a human and taught sign language is smart, captivating, and touching, so it’s no surprise that it opened Sundance 2011 with a bang earlier this year.
No comment.

“Moneyball”
Michael Lewis’s story about the Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane and his use of statistical analysis to put together a dream team made for high drama on the big screen, and turned out a baseball movie for fans of the sport everywhere.
No, no, no! This movie is NOT just a "baseball movie for fans of the sport everywhere"! It's a people movie, a movie about having heart and the strength to try something new, about listening to your own drummer but also keeping your ears open for the sound of something different. It just happened to take place in the world of baseball. And if you don't believe me watch this clip of Brad Pitt's character, Billy Beane, watching his daughter sing and play the guitar. And another one with scenes from the movie because I couldn't resist.


“Water for Elephants”
The year 2011 brought with it a marvelously mixed bag of movies, from fantasy to romance to family to thrills – so it only makes sense that a circus should round out the offerings. Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of Sara Gruen’s bestselling novel of the same name was quite magical in its cinematography – and in its presentation of Robert Pattinson as something other than a bloodthirsty Romeo.
Hmmm. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was looking forward to the film. BUT I was less than crazy about Reece Witherspoon in the lead role. I might be biased against Robert Pattinson because I am so anti-Twilight. Sorry Twihards.

I can't help but wonder why some other screen adaptations weren't mentioned.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer was a phenomenal book. The movie is barely out, is it a critical failure?
My Week with Marilyn has been getting wonderful reviews and word of mouth with Michelle Williams being one of the names most talked about for a Best Actress Oscar. What's up with the exlusion here?
While both Hugo (The Adventures of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick) and War Horse (by Michael Morpurgo)were based on "childrens books" the films are being touted as Best Picture fare. To disregard them when talking about screenplay adaptations is simply out of the question!
I guess I should be grateful that the Twilight Breaking Dawn film didn't make the list either!
Do you agree?

3 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! How could I forget Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy?! A tightly executed rendition of a brilliantly quite, completely absorbing spy story where it's the people that count not the number of shots fired or the speed of the cars.
    Both the book and the film were A +

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  2. Have you seen the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? It was extremely well done. I have seen the American version yet.

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  3. I really liked the Swedish version a lot. The Lisbeth character was so strong and I thought Noomi Rapace was amazing in her portrayal. Let's face it, we haven't seen very many female characters like her in books or on film. I also liked how they puzzled through the clues to solve the mystery. I loved the Fincher version but it does rush that part a bit.

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