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Books to Read Before You See the Movie / 2015

Want to get a head start on that novel everyone's reading before it hits the big screen? Time to polish your speed reading skills, there are 20 plus books on this year's list of movies based on books and there are more to come. As usual, I'll be adding films to this year's list as I get more details. Still catching up on 2014's book to movies? You'll find the list in the archives.

January 16: Still Alice
It's not too late to read the emotional story of Alice, a beautiful, intelligent college professor who succumbs to early onset Alzheimer's, and her family's struggle to deal with the effects. Don't worry; the poignant portrayal starring Julianne Moore in a Golden Globe + OSCAR nominated performance is fiction, although for millions of Americans touched by the horrific disease, it will resonate like the truth. Still Alice also stars Kristen Stewart, Alec Baldwin and Kate Bosworth. Read my take on the movie , on the book here.

January 16: American Sniper
Bradley Cooper stars as U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the so-called 'most lethal sniper in American history' in this Clint Eastwood directed adaptation of his memoir. Not my kind of thing but both Cooper and the film have received Oscar nominations. for readers of modern history, Kyle's four tours in Iraq make for quite a story, including his trouble upon returning home to normal life, one that moved Cooper so much he picked up the rights himself. Stephen Spielberg was originally signed on to direct but ultimately passed. The cast includes Sienna Miller as Kyle's wife, Luke Grimes and Jake McDorman.

January 16: Testament of Youth
This looks like epic Romance with a capitol R, but it's all true. According to the pub, much of what we know of World War I, we owe to Vera Brittain’s memoir! When the war broke out Brittain (Alicia Vikander) gave up her studies to be a nurse. Kit Harington plays the love of her life. Catch the trailer and get more info at my post Ten Books I Can't Wait to See On Screen in 2015. The release date is for the UK; waiting to hear when its coming to here.

January 22 (Sundance)
While there's no official release date for the film based on Colm Toibin's novel, Brooklyn starring Saoirse Ronan, Emory Cohen and Domhmall Gleeson, debuts at Sundance. I've been following the film's progress on the blog.

January 23: Ten Thousand Saints
Also making its debut at Sundance, Ten Thousand Saints based on Eleanor Henderson's novel set in the straight edge punk music scene in 1980's New York. The film stars Hailee Steinfeld, Emile Hirsch and Asa Butterfield with Ethan Hawke and Emily Mortimer. I just finished the book — which I liked less than I'd hoped — and am working on my take. They better hustle up with the poster!

January 23: Mortdecai
My buddies at B&N tell me Mortdecai is based on the Bonfiglioli’s Mortdecai novels—'comic capers featuring the antics of a roguish, aristocratic art dealer and his long-suffering manservant' featured in titles like "Don't Point That Thing at Me".  Johnny Depp stars as the title character alongside Paul Bettany and Gwyneth Paltrow in this loose adaptation of the trilogy, a kind of cult classic that's been rattling around for about forty years! It looks like the kind of out there role Johnny loves; hope Mortdecai fans love seeing him in it.

February 15: Fifty Shades of Grey
The book was crappy, I expect the film will be too. But if a little S&M titillation is your thing, here ya go. Enough said. Here's the lowdown from imdb.
Literature student Anastasia Steele's life changes forever when she meets handsome, yet tormented, billionaire Christian Grey. The film stars Dakota Johnson and
Jamie Dorman.

March 13: Cinderella
A retelling of the classic (outdated) fairy tale about a step-daughter who wins the heart of a prince. While most of today's little girls sadly think Disney, a lot of us attribute the tale to the Brothers Grimm. But it was actually Frenchman Charles Perrault who first put the folk tale on paper in 1697!Looks like not much has changed! Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Lily James (Downton Abbey) stars as Cinderella with Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi and Stellan Starsgaard.

March 20: Insurgent
Beatrice Prior must confront her inner demons and continue her fight against a powerful alliance which threatens to tear her society apart with the help from others on her side. Shailene Woodley stars at Tris in the second of the Divergent YA book series from Veronica Roth. Hunky Theo James (ya, I'm a sexist Miss Piggy) costars as Four with The Fault in Our Stars love interest Ansel Elgort as Tris bro, Caleb, and The Spectacular Now love interest Miles Teller as Peter. Naomi Watts, Maggie Q, and Kate Winslet also star.

March 20: Dark Places (Sweden)
Based on the thriller by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, Dark Places stars Charlize Theron as Libby Day, a woman who survived the brutal slaying of her family as a child forced to confront the truth by the Kill Club, a gruesome group obsessed with solving notorious crimes. Tye Sheridan and Corey Stoll play the younger and older Ben Day, with Chloe Grace Moretz and Andrea Roth as Diondra, Ben's secret girlfriend. The cast includes Nicholas Hoult as Lyle, the leader of the club, and Christina Hendricks as Patty Day. Read my take on the book.

April 10: The Longest Ride
Get out your hankies ladies. It's another Nicholas Sparks book churned into a movie. The lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man (Alan Alda) as he reflects back on a lost love while he's trapped in an automobile crash. Jack Huston plays the young Ira. Clint Eastwood's son Scott follows in dad's footsteps playing a cowboy. This one is named Luke with Britt Robertson as the young woman he falls in love with.
April 17: Child 44
Set in Stalin-era Soviet Union, a disgraced MGB agent Leo Dimdev (Tom Hardy) is dispatched to investigate a series of child murders -- a case that begins to connect with the very top of party leadership. Based on the acclaimed Tom Rob Smith thriller from a script by Richard Price (Clockers, Ransom, Shaft, The Color of Money, The Wire) Child 44 stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Charles Dance, Jason Clarke and Dev Patel (rumored). Here's what I thought of the book.

April 24: Our Kind of Traitor (Sweden)
A couple who find themselves lured into a Russian oligarch's plans to defect are soon positioned between the Russian Mafia and the British Secret Service, neither of whom they can trust. The film, directed by a woman for a change — Susanna White— from a script by Hossein Amini (Drive, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Two Faces of January) stars Ewan McGregor, Naomi Harris (Skyfall, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) with Stellan Starsgaard, Damian Lewis and Alicia Von Ritburg (Fury). No US release date as of now. Another of my Top Ten

May 1: Far from the Madding Crowd
Carey Mulligan stars as Bathsheba Everdene, the independent-minded young woman who finds herself involved with a trio of men and a series of adventures. Scripted by David Nicholl's who gave us One Day (both the moving novel and the mediocre film), Far From the Madding Crowd also stars Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak, Michael Sheen as William Boldwood and Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Troy.

May 21: Carol (Denmark)
Based on acclaimed crime writer Patricia Highsmith's The Price of Salt, Carol stars Sarah Paulsen, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara and Kyle Chandler. Set in 1950s New York, a department-store clerk who dreams of a better life falls for an older, married woman. Highsmith's work has been adapted into extremely successful films ala The Talented Mr. Ripley and Strangers on a Train, while this year's Two Faces of January didn't fare as well. The book was originally published under the pseudonym, Claire Morgan.

June 5: Paper Towns
Nat Wolff stars as teenager who embarks on a miraculous journey to find a missing friend Cara Deligne costars in the adaptation of the John Green novel. Green and Wolff bonded on the set of The Fault in Our Stars so I'm assuming the author put in a good word. The script was written by YA screenwriters par excellence: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, the writing team who gave us 500 Days of Summer, The Fault in Our Stars and The Spectacular Now.

July 24: PAN
The story of an orphan who is spirited away to  Neverland where he discovers his destiny -- to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan. Pan stars Garret Hedlund as Hook (the best looking Hook we've ever seen, sorry Christopher Walken) with Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily and young Levi Miller as Peter Pan. Based the characters created by J.M. Barrie, this prequel throws in a character or two, notably Blackbeard the pirate played by Hugh Jackman. No complaints from me!

November 25: The Martian
On my Top Ten list, based on Andy Weir's book about an astronaut stranded on Mars. Matt Damon plays astronaut Mark Watney; the cast includes Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña and Sean Bean.

November 25: Hologram for the King (Netherlands)
Damon will have to duke it out for the box office win with the other man of the people favorite Tom Hanks. Both feature all American types stranded in a strange land. In this Dave Eggers' novel adaptation, Hanks stars as  failed American businessman looks to recoup his losses by traveling to Saudi Arabia and selling his idea to a wealthy monarch

December 11: In the Heart of the Sea
Originally slated for a March 13th release the date was changed to put it atop of awards voters minds! Based on the book by Nathanial Philbrick detailing an 1820 event, in which a whaling ship is preyed upon by a sperm whale, stranding its crew at In the Hsea for 90 days, thousands of miles from home. In the Heart of the Sea stars Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson, Charlotte Riley and Benjamin Walker. Stranded at sea for 90 days with Chris Hemsworth? I'll bite.

December 31: Ithaca
Meg Ryan makes her directorial debut with Ithaca in which her old movie love, Tom Hanks stars. Based on Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan's 1943 novel, The Human Comedy—which I'm reading and loving Ithaca features 14-year-old Homer Macauley (Alex Neustadter) determined to be the best bicycle telegraph messenger anyone has ever seen. Set during World War II, many of those messages were of tragic proportions. The book was first adapted as a film starring Mickey Rooney in 1943. On my top ten list.

December 31: The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as frontiersman Hugh Glass in this bio-pic directed by Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu with cinematography by the acclaimed Emmanuel Lubezki. Glass went on a revenge seeking mission after he was left for dead in the wake of being mauled by a bear. The film also stars Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson and Will Poulter. This is so not a chick-flick: I've scanned the imdb.com listing up and down and I can't find a woman in the cast. What a waste of all these hunky men, you say? I agree but at least we'll have the wild west — shhh! it's really Canada! — as shot by Lubezki, the DP behind Terence Mallick's beautiful beautiful Tree of Life.

TBD: Go With Me
Anthony Hopkins stars as a ex-logger called on for help by Julia Stiles in this adaptation of the Castle Freeman Jr. thriller. Ray Liotta seems aptly cast as an ex-cop turned evil crime boss. Directed by Daniel Alfredson who put Noomi Rapace on the world map with his Swedish language versions of Steig Larson's Millennium trilogy.

TBD: Silence
If the sheer number of producers — twenty — mean anything, than maybe Martin Scorsese's passion project will really come to fruition this year as promised. Set in the seventeenth century, Silence is the tale of two Jesuit priests who face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and to spread the gospel of Christianity. The director has wanted to adapt Shüsako Endü's Silence for years and years; as of Oct 8, the film has been cast with Liam Neeson along with Adam Driver and Andrew Garfield but the project is still listed as being in pre-production.

TBD: Tulip Fever
Tulip Fever is another movie without a definite release date yet BUT the film is in the can so chances are good we'll actually get to see it this year. Also set in the 17th century, Tulip Fever is billed as a romance in which an artist falls for a married young woman while he's commissioned to paint her portrait. The two invest in the risky tulip market in hopes to build a future together. The cast — a fairly sexy bunch — includes Christoph Waltz, Jack O'Connell (Unbroken), Cara Delavinge, Alicia Vikander, Dane DeHaan, Zach Galifanakis and Judi Dench. I have a hunch I'll like the movie better than the book. Herre's my take on the novel.

TBD: The Secret Scripture
The cryptic description at imdb tells you nada— "A woman keeps a diary of her extended stay at a mental hospital" but the actual details of Roseanne McNulty's story make for a complicated and challenging read. The film stars stars Rooney Mara and Vanessa Redgrave as the young and old versions of the mental patient Roseanne McNulty (life before and after institutionalization) Theo James is the priest Father Gaunt with Eric Bana as Roseanne's modern-day psychiatrist. There's far too much to encapsulate here but check out my post Ten Books I Can't Wait to See OnScreen in 2015 or check out what I thought of the book.

TBD: London Fields
I've got to read this Martin Amis novel from 1989. According to B&N "London Fields is Amis's murder story for the end of the millennium. The murderee is Nicola Six, a "black hole" of sex and self-loathing intent on orchestrating her own extinction." From imdb:  Clairvoyant femme fatale Nicola Six has been living with a dark premonition of her impending death by murder. She begins a tangled love affair with three uniquely different men: one of whom she knows will be her murderer.  The film stars Amber Heard as Nicola Six, Theo James as Guy Clinch with Jim Sturgess, Billy Bob Thornton and yes, Amber Heard's fiancé Johnny Depp all on board. Another one from my list of Ten Books I Can't Wait to See OnScreen When? Sometime in 2015.

TBD: The Light Between Oceans
Oh, this one sounds soooo good! The Light Between Oceans, is another one of the Ten Books I Can't Wait to See OnScreen. It's got Alicia Vikander again —this really is her year— starring opposite Michael Fassbender as a lighthouse keeper and his wife who decide to raise a baby they rescue from a shipwreck off the coast of Western Australia. The cast includes Rachel Weisz and is directed by Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine) Check out the post for more info but I have to be honest, while the producers say the movie is coming out in 2015, the only release date I can find is for Denmark in January of 2016! I really don't want to wait that long. You?

A few I'm waiting for: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarity and Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple. Got the lowdown on a release date? I'd be thrilled to share the news here.