Allright, allright, last year’s top 10 book to film adaptations picks came out 50-50: a few picks flopped (The Host–remember? That was a movie! And it came out less than a year ago!), a few brought in billions and billions as expected (Catching Fire), one offended everyone (The Wolf of Wall Street), and we’re still waiting on two movies that were supposed to come out in 2013 (Winter’s Tale and A Most Wanted Man). Hey, at least the list didn’t turn out as bad as The Counselor.
2014 will be better, I promise. And to make up for last year’s 10, there’s a bonus pick below. Here are 11 surefire winners.
Just missed the cut: Under the Skin, the moody alien movie where Scarlett Johansson is the alien; Black Mass, the Whitey Bulger movie that may or may not star Johnny Depp but likely won’t be out this year; Divergent, the biggest YA adaptation that’s not below; The Body Artist, the adaptation of DeLillo’s novella, starring Sigourney Weaver.
11. A Most Wanted Man (TBA 2014)
I know I’m breaking my rule of no repeats by putting A Most Wanted Man on 2013 and 2014, but I’m just going to let the trailer make the case. And if it’s anywhere near as good as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, it deserves a place in the top 10 of 2014.
A Most Wanted Man is still based on the book by John le Carré and still stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Willem Dafoe, and Daniel Brühl.
10. The Two Faces of January (Spring 2014)
If you’re a Patricia Highsmith fan, 2014 brings not only an adaptation of her novel Carol (starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara), but of The Two Faces of January, starring Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac, and Kirsten Dunst.
The film takes place in 1962 with an American couple (Mortensen and Dunst) visiting Greece and meeting a scam artist (Isaac). Highsmithian intrigue follows. January is the directorial debut of Hossein Amini, probably best known for doing the Drive screenplay.
9. Far from the Madding Crowd (Spring 2014)
The fourth screen version of Thomas Hardy’s classic stars Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts/Michael Sheen/Tom Sturridge as the three males who are romantically interested in her. Drama ensues. What makes this version particularly interesting is director Thomas Vinterberg, who just put out one of 2013′s best movies, The Hunt.
8. The Drop (September 19)
Originally titled Animal Rescue, The Drop is adapted for the screen by Dennis Lehane, based on his short story. Lehane, in addition to writing the novels-to-movies Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and Shutter Island, has also done some writing for The Wire and Boardwalk Empire.
The Drop is about a criminal (Tom Hardy) who gets mixed up in a heist/murder over a baby pit bull (click above pic to see said baby pit bull in high res). Some unseemly types come after him and the pit bull, including mob boss James Gandolfini, starring in his last role.
7. Serena (TBA 2014)
The above picture was revealed nearly two years ago, so Serena, the adaptation of Ron Rash’s novel, has been in development for some time. Still without a distributor, it seems 2014 is a good bet for release, at least in part because the stock of stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have never been higher.
Directed by Susanne Bier (probably best known for After the Wedding), Serena is about Serena (Lawrence) and George (Cooper) Pemberton moving to North Carolina during the Depression era, where they build a timber empire and become iron-fisted rulers.
6. Unbroken (December 25)
With sales numbers that top even some of the huge recent YA hits, and a script from the Coens, it’s difficult to see Unbroken not doing well. The wild card is Angelina Jolie, whose role as director of the film could elevate Unbroken or backfire on it. Her only previous directing credit is 2011′s In the Land of Blood and Honey, a movie that most people probably forgot was ever made.
The Christmas release date indicates strong studio support for this one, and the hope is probably that it’ll be in the awards conversation this time next year.
Unbroken is about Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell), an Olympic athlete who was taken prisoner by the Japanese in WWII.
5. The Fault in Our Stars (June 6)
The adapters of John Green’s megahit are banking on the same people who made The Perks of Being a Wallflower movie a hit will turn The Fault in Our Stars movie a hit. The leads of Fault, Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, are also leads in Divergent, which hits theaters just two months before this one. And while Fault and Divergent have totally different plots, and Divergent has slightly outsold Fault on Nielsen, I’m going to give the edge to Fault because it’s the rare YA adaptation with no mention of dystopia.
4. Gone Girl (October 3)
If you’re a Gillian Flynn fan, you can also look forward to her book Dark Places in 2014, starring Charlize Theron; and there’s also an adaptation of the Flynn-like bestseller Before I Go to Sleep coming this year. But aside from the fact that Gone Girl is bigger than those other mystery/thrillers, it also happens to have David Fincher as director. Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, and Neil Patrick Harris star, and Flynn has changed the ending of the movie, which for some reason is already kerfuffling up the internet.
3. The Giver (August 15)
Based on Lois Lowry’s big hit, The Giver features Jeff Bridges as the Giver and Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder in this story about young Jonas learning the power of knowledge through lost memories in a dystopia. The director is Phillip Noyce, who’s done everything from Clear and Present Danger to Rabbit-Proof Fence to The Bone Collector.
2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (November 21)
It’s hard to imagine any other book adaptation sniffing the money Mockingjay Part I will rake in come November, and this time next year, I’m sure we’ll be having the same conversation about Part II. And though Part I might not make much more than Catching Fire or the very first Hunger Games (the former has only grossed $6 million more than the latter), when we finally get to the end, Part II is likely to smash the numbers of all the previous entries, if the Harry Potter series is any indication. In the meantime, 2014′s box office belongs to Katniss.
1. Inherent Vice (TBA 2014)
I know there’s an outside chance it doesn’t even come out this year (though it hit post-production last fall), and I know it doesn’t have the broad-as-a-battleship appeal of Hunger Games or The Fault in Our Stars or Gone Girl or The Giver, but Inherent Vice is the first ever official Pynchon movie adaptation and, if for some silly reason that’s not enough to get you excited, it’s being made by Paul Thomas Anderson, who I’d argue is the greatest living filmmaker, or, at the very least, is in the discussion.
Inherent Vice is about private eye Larry “Doc” Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend in 1969-1970 Los Angeles. Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, and Benicio del Toro join Phoenix for the hijinks.