Monday, December 31, 2012

Movies based on books - the best this year?

Okay, it’s New Year’s Eve and time for end of the year reflections and lists. Here’s one from me: There were a number of films released in 2012 based on books.

Two questions: What was the best film based on a book? Or, what was the best book that was the basis for a film? Over the years some great books have ended up being some not so good or only so-so films. And the reverse, some so-so books have been turned into wonderful films (not often but sometimes).

This year, the best film based on a book has to be Lincoln. Now some may quibble that the film is only partly based on Doris Kerns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals but who cares, the film qualifies.

It has received tremendous critical acclaim. It has also received numerous Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations and will likely be nominated for numerous Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

How about the best book that became a motion picture this year? Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is one of the great novels of western civilization. While the film is adapted from the musical, they are both adapted from the novel. It qualifies.

Of course this is not the first film based on the novel, Liam Neeson starred as Jean Valjean in the 1998 version and Fredric March was Valjean in the 1935 version. There were also versions in 1934, 1982, 1958 and 1995.

There were other films released this year that were based on a book. Maybe your pick for ‘best’is among these:

One for the Money, Janet Evanovich. Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum jumped from the Bestseller list to the big screen.

The Lorax, Dr. Seuss’ wonderful 1971 book and this year’s animated film are not just for children. We still need to save the trees and Danny DeVito as the Lorax is trying.

The Hunger Games. The film was highly anticipated by fans of Suzanne Collins’ book and generally received positive reviews though there was some negative criticism. The second novel in the series, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is set to be released in 2013.

The Lucky One, Nicholas Sparks. This schmaltzy, escapist melodrama did not fare will with critics. It also only did so-so at the box office.

Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, Seth Grahame-Smith. Fans of the genre and/or the novel saw this film but that is about it. It did not do well at the box office. I didn’t go either.

Cosmopolis, Don Dellilo. The David Cronenberg film received some positive reviews but only had limited release in the U.S.

Alex Cross, James Patterson. This film is based on Pattersons’ 2006 novel Cross. It received horrible reviews. Tyler Perry played Cross in this version. Morgan Freeman had played Cross in the two previous adaptations of Patterson novels.

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell. The book that could not be made into a film, finally was. It has actually received some positive notices and a 10-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, Stephanie Meyer. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Life of Pi, Yann Martel. Ang Lee’s film version has been a box office and critical success. It has also been nominated for a Golden Globe Best Picture award.

The Hobbit, J.R. Tolkien. Much of the negative criticism of this film had to do with Peter Jackson’s decision to shoot it at 48 fps rather than the standard 24 fps. Those critics thought it made the characters look less real, rather than more real. It has done huge box office, though.

Jack Reacher from Lee Child’s novel One Shot. The film opened, awkwardly, just after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut. However, just as the shootings at the Aurora movie theatre in July did not hurt the box office of Dark Knight Rises, Jack Reacher is also doing well at the box office.

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