Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/

Top Ten Best/Worst Book to Movie Adaptations

Top Ten Tuesday adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/ceasedesist/4812981497/This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about book to movie adaptations. Oh, this is a hard one. I will start with the best ones. Links go to the movies’ IMDb profiles.

  1. Brokeback Mountain the movie is even better than Annie Proulx’s short story. Proulx doesn’t develop the characters as much, and Innis and Jack’s wives are just window dressing. The movie gives the story much more depth and heart. I hardly ever say this kind of thing. The book is usually better. Which brings me to #2.
  2. The Princess Bride is another case where I think the movie is better. The book gets a little lost, but the movie stays focused. Plus the acting is just great. Easily one of the most quotable movies of all time.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird is a great film. Not as good as the book, but really great. Everyone talks about how wonderful Gregory Peck was as Atticus Finch, and he was, but they always forget that Mary Badham was phenomenal as Scout. She was nominated for an Academy Award. She didn’t win. Probably because of her age. She was only ten years old.
  4. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was famously reviled by Ken Kesey, who didn’t like it that you couldn’t tell the story through the eyes of the schizophrenic Chief Bromden, but the film turned in some stellar performances by some actors often known more for comedy. Great film.
  5. The Color Purple jiggled some things around, but they got the most important stuff right. I love this film all over again every time I see it.
  6. Sense and Sensibility is gorgeously shot and the acting is awesome. I like everyone in it.
  7. Pride and Prejudice, both the version with Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and the one with Keira Knightley.
  8. The adaptation of Louis Sachar’s novel Holes was awesome. Pretty much just like the book.
  9. I don’t know if it’s cheating to include plays, but I’m gonna. Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet is pretty much the gold standard of Shakespeare in film.
  10. Clueless is a pretty awesome update of Emma. I love that movie.

My choices for worst adaptations:

  1. As much as I love the Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban hits all the wrong notes from the opening when Harry is practicing spells outside of school in a Muggle house, which everyone knows underage wizards can’t do, to the made up toad chorus and talking shrunken head, to the confusing deletion of the Marauders’ subplot that renders the movie incomprehensible unless you have read the book. And everyone looks scruffy the whole movie long. They don’t have to be as well scrubbed as when Chris Columbus directs, and I don’t mind them looking like normal teenagers, but having parts of your shirt untucked, your tie askew, and your hair mussed in every single scene? Nah. I’m blaming the director for this one because I like the others just fine (except for Michael Gambon’s performance, especially in Goblet of Fire—Dumbledore wouldn’t manhandle Harry like that). It’s a shame because it is easily one of the top books in the series.
  2. Just about every version of Wuthering Heights except this one, though to be fair, I haven’t seen the newest one with Kaya Scodelario. Why on earth people can’t get that book straightened out in film form, I do not get. Some versions cut the Hareton and Cathy part altogether. Others delete Lockwood.
  3. The Scarlet Letter with Demi Moore. What were they thinking? We were discussing the scene when Reverend Dimmesdale reveals the scarlet letter carved into his own chest and dies in one of my classes one day, and I re-read it to the class. One of my students said, “Wow, this would make a great movie.” Yeah, you’d think, but no.
  4. This version of Macbeth is pretty heinous, but I do use two scenes from it when I teach the play. They do some neat camera tilt tricks and use mirrors in a clever way in the scene when Banquo’s ghost shows up, and the opening with the three witches dressed like schoolgirls busting up a graveyard is good.
  5. The Rankin/Bass versions of The Hobbit and The Return of the King and Ralph Bakshi’s version of The Lord of the Rings. Ugh. I much prefer Peter Jackson’s adaptions despite the changes made. He takes the subject matter seriously.
  6. The Black Cauldron was ruined by Disney. I don’t blame you if you didn’t read Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles if you thought they were like that movie. I remember dragging my mom to see it and being so disappointed.
  7. And by that same token, The Seeker adapted from Susan Cooper’s novel The Dark is Rising is heinous. I keep using that word. But it’s so true in this case. Take this one together with The Black Cauldron and there’s a fair chance kids won’t give these wonderful books steeped in Welsh myth and legend a shot at all.
  8. Their Eyes Were Watching God was pretty bad. Oh, you mean you never even knew it it existed? There is a good reason for that. I love that book. I can’t believe the film is so bad.
  9. Beowulf. Oh. My. Gosh. What the heck was that?
  10. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil should have been good. Kevin Spacey is in it. Clint Eastwood directed it. The Lady Chablis played herself. Instead it’s terrible. Don’t watch it.

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Underrated Books

Top Ten TuesdayThis week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is the top ten underrated books. I elected to choose just books I’ve read and absolutely loved, but don’t hear much about from others, whether book bloggers, Goodreads users, or just the general populace. I don’t understand why these books aren’t more popular than they are.

  1. [amazon_link id=”0060515139″ target=”_blank” ]A Plague of Doves[/amazon_link] by Louise Erdrich (review). This multigenerational epic is one of the best books I’ve ever read, but it’s not the first book anyone thinks of when they think of Erdrich. It’s a beautiful book and would be great for book clubs. I don’t know that many people who’ve read it, though.
  2. [amazon_link id=”1400096057″ target=”_blank” ]The Commoner[/amazon_link] by John Burnham Schwartz (review). This novel is based on current Japanese imperial family. It’s an interesting look at this traditional if widely ceremonial institution. I wouldn’t have ordinarily read it, but it was mentioned on one of my favorite GPB radio programs, which convinced me to try it. Really good book, but no one I know has read it.
  3. [amazon_link id=”014241557X” target=”_blank” ]Wintergirls[/amazon_link] by Laurie Halse Anderson (review). I think this novel is eclipsed by [amazon_link id=”0142414735″ target=”_blank” ]Speak[/amazon_link], which is phenomenal, but I truly learned a lot about eating disorders from this other, lesser-known novel of Anderson’s.
  4. [amazon_link id=”193659451X” target=”_blank” ]Persuasion[/amazon_link] by Jane Austen (review). Most people think of [amazon_link id=”184317569X” target=”_blank” ]Pride and Prejudice[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1843175703″ target=”_blank” ]Sense and Sensibility[/amazon_link], or even [amazon_link id=”0062085654″ target=”_blank” ]Emma[/amazon_link] before they think of Austen’s last work, but it’s my personal favorite. I love Anne Elliot’s steadfastness and good sense, the naval officers, the Cobb where Louisa Musgrove fell, Bath, all of it. What a tightly written, fantastic book.
  5. [amazon_link id=”0385739893″ target=”_blank” ]Tiger Eyes[/amazon_link] by Judy Blume. We hear a lot about her other classics, like [amazon_link id=”0440904196″ target=”_blank” ]Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret[/amazon_link], the [amazon_link id=”0142409065″ target=”_blank” ]Fudge series[/amazon_link], maybe even somewhat scandalous books like [amazon_link id=”0385739850″ target=”_blank” ]Deenie[/amazon_link] or [amazon_link id=”1416934006″ target=”_blank” ]Forever[/amazon_link], but sometimes I think people forgot about Tiger Eyes. It’s my favorite Judy Blume book, and I read pretty much all of them published up through the early-to-mid ’80’s. I was a huge fan of hers. I just loved the heroine and the setting. So many YA books in my youth were set in New York. I started to wonder if YA authors realized people lived other places. Davey lived in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but most of the book takes place in Los Alamos, New Mexico, where her aunt and uncle live. As a kid living in Colorado, it was nice to read about a state closer to home, with physical attributes (such as mountains) more like my own home.
  6. [amazon_link id=”1250000939″ target=”_blank” ]The Prydain Chronicles[/amazon_link] by Lloyd Alexander. Do kids read these books anymore? I loved them. They might have suffered from a [amazon_link id=”B003RACGZM” target=”_blank” ]really poor Disney adaptation[/amazon_link]. They are such good books, though. You just never hear about them anymore. My fourth grade teacher read us [amazon_link id=”0805080481″ target=”_blank” ]The Book of Three[/amazon_link], and I remember her telling us that just because there was a guy with a skull for a head with antlers sprouting from his, well, skull, that we girls should not be put off because it was a really good book. I was skeptical, but I gave it a shot and immediately had to read the next book in the series, which might be even better than the first. I even liked the one book in the series that my teacher said wasn’t as good as the others.
  7. [amazon_link id=”014029628X” target=”_blank” ]Girl in Hyacinth Blue[/amazon_link] by Susan Vreeland (review). Perhaps because it is one of her earlier books, it doesn’t seem to have gained the same sort of traction as, say, [amazon_link id=”1400068169″ target=”_blank” ]Clara and Mr. Tiffany[/amazon_link]. I have a real love for this book, which begins with a novel concept: tracing the ownership of a painting from the current day back to its moment of creation. Plus, Vreeland introduced me to the artwork of Vermeer before I read [amazon_link id=”0452287022″ target=”_blank” ]Girl with a Pearl Earring[/amazon_link] by Tracy Chevalier.
  8. Arthur Phillips’s [amazon_link id=”0812972597″ target=”_blank” ]The Egyptologist[/amazon_link] (review). Sometimes I think I am the only person who liked this book, but it’s chock full of some black humor that I thought was hysterical. I loved the ending, especially, which was so comically horrible I didn’t know whether to feel bad I thought it was funny, or feel good that the antihero had his comeuppance. It’s hard to feel good because of a certain major twist that makes you feel sorry for him, but still.
  9. [amazon_link id=”0385737645″ target=”_blank” ]Revolution[/amazon_link] by Jennifer Donnelly (review). How come everyone isn’t reading this one? It’s been my favorite read of the year, and I never see anything about it anywhere, even from people who read more YA than I do. It’s such a great book.
  10. [amazon_link id=”0807114103″ target=”_blank” ]I Am One of You Forever[/amazon_link] by Fred Chappell. OK, granted, this one is published on a small press, and I would never have heard of it if I hadn’t been required to read it for Southern Literature in college, but it’s an amazing book, especially if you like magical realism and Southern literature. I have described as a book that drilled a hole right through my heart when I read it.

What about you? What books do you think are underrated?

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