Now that the mayhem of the Oscars is over for another year (Envelopegate notwithstanding), it’s time to take a breath, get over the drama, and start looking ahead to the next crop of cinematic masterpieces!
Hollywood in particular isn’t often accused of excessive originality and this year’s nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay were a diverse bunch, including two films based on plays, two inspired by works of non-fiction, and one developed from a short story. With Moonlight’s victory, a burgeoning trend seems to have been bucked, as all of the winners over the preceding five years were based on works of non-fiction or memoirs, with the exception of 2011’s The Descendants. So, does this bode well for fictional forays into the big screen at next year’s Academy Awards?
Happily, there’s no shortage of source material, and while the first couple of months of the year have already seen a fair few such adaptations, these seem to be just the tip of the iceberg. With that in mind we’ve put together a rundown of literary adaptations that look set to hit screens over the coming months so you can stock up your bookshelves and pick next year’s winner!
If you’ve missed the big-screen incarnation of Dennis Lehane’s gangster epic Live By Night or the Fifty Shades sequel isn’t quite up your street, then don’t panic, as March will see the release of Logan, the most recent installment of the X-Men franchise and the last to feature Hugh Jackman. Inspired in part by the Wolverine: Old Man Logan graphic novels, it sees an older, disillusioned Wolverine drawn out of hiding to aid a fugitive young mutant with whom he shares a troubling connection. Far from the only graphic novel/comic/movie mash-up on the horizon, this year will also see the hotly anticipated Wonder Woman movie and the live-action film version of seminal manga Ghost in the Shell (already generating controversy over its casting).
Julian Barnes’ enigmatic Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Sense of an Ending, might seem a difficult prospect for a film: an elliptical study of memory and fallibility, it manages to be profoundly shocking while still retaining much of its mystery. Audiences intrigued to find out how this masterful work translates from page to screen will be able to see for themselves when it’s released on 14 April: Jim Broadbent leads the cast as Tony, a man confronted with a legacy which forces him to question his own past and the repercussions of his actions.
Dave Eggers’ The Circle stirred up controversy on publication with its sinister perspective on the insidious incursions of Internet corporations into our lives. Emma Watson stars as a young worker hired by a powerful tech company who starts to have doubts about its leader’s (Tom Hanks) ostensibly philanthropic motives, while John Boyega gives a notable turn as a mysterious possible ally in one of his first major roles since his Star Wars breakout. Unsettling parallels with Brave New World and 1984 suggest a possible new classic of dystopian sci-fi.
Reaching screens in June is The Shack, in which Sam Worthington plays a man grieving the loss of his daughter who receives a mysterious invitation from God to revisit the scene of her abduction and likely murder. An evocative meditation on loss and faith based on the self-published phenomenon by Canadian author William P. Young it’s likely to draw comparison with Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones and also offers a chance to see Octavia Spencer, one of this year’s nominees for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, shine in a leading role.
Sofia Coppola adds a bold new twist to her filmography with The Beguiled, due for release on 23 June. Based on the 1966 Southern Gothic novel A Painted Devil by Thomas P. Cullinan, previously adapted in 1971 and starring Clint Eastwood, it tells the story of a wounded Union soldier’s catalytic effect on a group of sheltered Virginia schoolgirls and their caretakers during the American Civil War. While the Western genre is a point of departure, Coppola’s preoccupation with female sexuality and desire also takes a dark new direction in concert with frequent collaborators Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning.
Summer will also see the release of My Cousin Rachel, the second film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s mystery-romance novel and the latest in a long line of adaptations of her work. The plot revolves around Philip, a young man intent on proving the involvement of his enigmatic and beautiful cousin in the death of his guardian while falling ever more deeply under the spell of her charms. Rachel Weisz stars with Sam Claflin in this mesmerizing study in dangerous infatuation.
Fans of Stephen King and Idris Elba are in for a treat this summer with each enjoying not one but two literary adaptations for the big screen. In October Elba will star opposite Kate Winslet in an adaptation of Charles Martin’s The Mountain Between Us, after taking up the mantle of The Gunslinger in The Dark Tower, scheduled for release on 28 July and based on King’s series of novels of the same name and self-described magnum opus. Upping the ante on fear, 8 September will see the release of a film version of the author’s horror classic, It, previously adapted in 1990 as a television mini-series and now back to terrify a whole new generation as the Losers Club regroup to take on the nightmare that hunted them down as children.
If it’s more graphic novels you’re after then make sure you don’t miss the big screen debut in August of Valérian and Laureline, heroes of the eponymous French comics written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières. In Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Luc Besson returns to the same brand of science fiction action-adventure as his 1997 hit, The Fifth Element, with Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne’s space-and-time-travelling agents tasked with the investigation of a intergalactic empire.
DeHaan’s profile will rise further with the long-awaited film of Deborah Moggach’s 1999 bestseller, Tulip Fever, expected this year after delays in editing. Set during the height of the Dutch tulip mania of the 1630s, it recounts the illicit romance between a young artist and the married woman whose portrait he has been commissioned to paint. Those expecting another Girl with a Pearl Earring should brace themselves for an extra helping of sex, deception, and betrayal, though the line-up is similarly starry with Tom Stoppard on screenwriting duties and Academy Award winners Alicia Vikander, Christoph Waltz, and Dame Judi Dench among the cast.
Along with period drama, the YA film genre is in for a strong year, especially with the release of Before I Fall, based on Lauren Oliver’s 2010 novel. Samantha, an American high-schooler, seems to be living a charmed life until what should have been just another day turns out to be her last: miraculously able to relive it over the course of a week, she begins to untangle the mystery of her death and to discover the real value of everything she is in danger of losing. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January and a UK release date is hopefully on the cards for later this year.
One disconcerting YA trope is about to get much more familiar to movie audiences with not one but two treatments of severe combined immunodeficiency expected to air this year: while Asa Butterfield encounters a related predicament in The Space Between Us, Everything, Everything more straightforwardly takes up the storyline of a medically confined teen falling in love from afar. Nicola Yoon’s 2015 novel has seen an impressively quick transition to film and with voice-of-a-generation Amandla Stenberg on board it looks set to be a both a box-office hit and an emotional touchstone of The Fault in Our Stars magnitude.
If there’s a Scandi-noir-shaped hole in your life, look no further than the upcoming adaptation of Norwegian crime author extraordinaire Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman, directed by Tomas Alfredson. Starring Michael Fassbender and slated for release in October, The Snowman is the seventh of Nesbø’s series of books following Inspector Harry Hole but the first to be adapted for the silver screen. The disappearance of a woman whose scarf is found wrapped around a snowman by her son and the discovery of a pattern of missing wives and mothers stretching back years promises chilling viewing heading into winter.
If something slightly more affirming is what you’re after, then R. J. Palacio’s multi-award winning children’s book, Wonder, is getting the big-screen treatment on 17 November and follows August ‘Auggie’ Pullman, a 10 year old boy with a facial deformity experiencing school and all the challenges it brings for the first time. Though helmed by YA leading light Stephen Chbosky, who most recently directed the film adaptation of his own novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it’s not just for the kids – expect valuable insights on prejudice, fitting in, and embracing yourself and others no matter what your age.
Though some way off with a release date of 24 November, Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express is already firmly on the radar: the cast is about as eclectic as they come, with Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Willem Dafoe supplying Hollywood clout alongside cream of British talent Dame Judi Dench, Olivia Colman, and Daisy Ridley. For anybody concerned about Depp’s (or Dafoe’s) Belgian accent, Branagh himself will be taking on the mantle of Christie’s treasured detective, Hercule Poirot, in this dark tale of murder and deception.
If that’s not enough to keep you busy, head over to IMDb for the latest news as it’s released and don’t forget to stop by the SYP Book Club to see what we’re reading! Happy page-turning/popcorn-munching, and here’s to #OscarsSoLiterary next year!
Hey fussy! All dates and film information taken from IMDb and correct at the time of writing.