Making a beloved book into a movie is always tricky, and fans of the book are often disappointed. But there are a few rare examples when Hollywood actually makes a film better than the book.

Beauty and The Beast

It’s probably not fair to compare Disney’s 1991 animated classic to Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont‘s French fairy tale on which it’s based but. . . even more than Cinderella or Snow White, this story about a young woman who falls in love with her deformed captor belongs to the Magic Kingdom.

Like many of Disney’s princess adaptations, there’s not shortage of troubling stuff (a little Stockholm syndrome, some bestiality) but Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s songs! Belle (Paige O’Hara) descending the stairs in that yellow dress! Angela Lansbury as a talking teapot; Jerry Orbach as a candelabra! It’s hard not to root for those crazy kids.

American Psycho

From the start, controversy embroiled Bret Easton Ellis 1991 satiric thriller about a young NYC investment banker specializing in mergers and acquisitions with a penchant for murders and executions. Most critics loved it, several feminists hated it, and some sellers deemed it so disturbing that it was sold in shrink-wrap and dropped by the original publisher.

Though director Mary Harron‘s 2000 adaptation remained mostly faithful to the tome, she was able to mine the dark humor, the gore becoming more social commentary than just sociopathic.

Mean Girls

Shocking as it may seem Regina George (Rachel McAdams) and her minions were inspired by a self-help book for parents of teens. After reading Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees & Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence, Tina Fey optioned the book and wrote her first screenplay.

While the text was full of anecdotes from Wiseman’s time leading high school empowerment workshops, Fey spun the scraps into a hysterical, sometimes heartbreaking yarn about a new girl (Lindsay Lohan in her prime) navigating the minefield of Girl World in high school. The whole thing is still totally fetch!

The Shawshank Redemption

Stephen King is clearly one of horror’s undisputed masters, but his non-scary novella “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” was mostly forgotten in his mostly forgotten 1982 collection Different Seasons until writer/director Frank Darabont brought it to the screen as The Shawshank Redemption twelve years later.

Darabont expanded and heightened this prison drama about a wrongfully convicted murderer (Tim Robbins) and fellow inmate (Morgan Freeman). Though somewhat of a commercial failure at the time, the flick has since garnered multiple accolades and found its way onto several Cinephile’s lists of the greatest of all time.

The Devil Wears Prada

It certainly wasn’t great literature, but Lauren Weisberger‘s thinly veiled 2003 roman a clef about her first job as an assistant to Anna Wintour at Vogue Magazine was great gossipy fun and became a huge bestseller. But David Frankel’s 2006 film turned it the material from TopShop to haute couture.

Frankel and screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna streamlined the plot and fleshed out some of the secondary characters, including an awesome Emily Blunt as a fellow assistant. And Meryl Streep as Wintour stand-in Miranda Priestly was a tour de force as an impossible boss with occasional glimmers of heart.

The Notebook

Nicholas Sparks is infamous for his syrupy sweet and tragic love stories, and the millions of copies he’s sold makes clear there’s definitely a market for the melodrama. But Nick Cassavetes‘ 2004 adaptation of 1996’s The Notebook found fans beyond those looking for a good cry with a dose of heavy-handed morality.

Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdam’s had chemistry that was off the charts as a pair of young lovers facing classic obstacles like war, disapproving parents, and her pesky engagement. For all its cheesiness, it’s nearly impossible not melt into a puddle when these two kiss in the pouring rain.

Lord of the Rings

Legions of Tolkienites will scream blasphemy about The Lord of the Rings making this list, but Peter Jackson’s 2001-2003 Oscar-winning trilogy is really good. Jackson streamlined J.R.R. Tolkien’s massive books and brought the narrative into focus, and the movies visuals are genuinely stunning.

Strong performances by Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Orlando Bloom and Viggo Mortensen upped the ante, while Jackson even gave a handful of tangential female charters meatier things to do. Howard Shore’s Academy Award—winning scores gave everything a heightened importance, and the eye-popping special effects, well, they were just precious.

Forrest Gump

Like its famed box of chocolates, director Robert Zemeckis’ best picture-nabbing Forrest Gump had it all. Award-winning performances from Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Robin Wright and Sally Field, gorgeous cinematography across the nation, Oscar-winning visual effects, and a soundtrack that makes you stand up and yell, “America!”

There’s also a lot of plot in this flick about a simple man with a generous heart who finds his way into the center of much of modern history. But Winston Groom’s 1986 novel was crammed with even more—including a slapstick-y subplot where Forrest becomes an astronaut. It also had less tragedy—Jenny doesn’t die!

Bridget Jones’s Diary

Helen Fielding’s 1999 novel was a fun, raunchy romp about a 30-something singleton’s misadventures in work and romance. Unique for its “diary” format, woman everywhere could relate all too well to Bridget’s daily logging of her weight and caloric intake. And fans wondered how director Sharon Maguire would bring that to the screen in 2001.
Worries intensified when slender American Renée Zellweger was cast as the plump, British Bridget, but Zellweger sparkled (even scoring an Oscar nom). While love interest Mark was a bit of snooze in the book, Colin Firth brought out his charm, and Hugh Grant was an absolute hoot as his romantic rival.

Fight Club

The first rule of Fight Club is don’t talk about how David Fincher’s 1999 film is superior to Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel…or do. Palahniuk himself loved the adaptation so much that afterward he was “sort of embarrassed” by his book about a depressed dude who creates a club for brawling and blowing shit up.
The film does the usual streamlining of plot, but also goes Hollywood giving it a quasi-happy ending (Project Mayhem breaks a whole lot darker in the book) and giving Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt/Ed Norton) a twisted romance with Marla (Helena Bonham Carter). Palahniuk and audiences loved it all.

Source : Collider