Every year, awards season proves that some of the best movies are the ones inspired by much-loved novels. Whether it’s a classic tale revived for a modern audience, an animated Disney number or a bestseller-turned-blockbuster, we’re usually in for some stellar stuff.
2020 is no exception, with a whole host of books being adapted for the big screen as well as streaming services like Netflix and Disney+, while others hit the TV.
So far, we can expect 23 films which have been adapted from books for the start of the new decade. Stories are drawn from legends like HG Wells and Agatha Christie to acclaimed authors such as Jojo Moyes and Jenny Han.
Just Mercy: a story of justice and redemption is a real story written by civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson about his fight to free wrongly-imprisoned Walter McMillian, a man condemned to die on death row in Alabama, US.
The book was named book of the year by multiple publications including the New York Times and has now been adapted for the big screen.
Michael B. Jordan plays Bryan Stevenson, who defends Jamie Foxx’s Walter McMillian.
The classic novel, The Invisible man by HG Wells’ is about a scientist who invents a serum which can turn him invisible.
In this 2020 adaptation, Elizabeth Moss plays Cecelia, a woman whose abusive ex takes his own life. He leaves her five million dollars on the condition that she is not ruled to be mentally incompetent.
Hunted by a man nobody can see, Cecilia tries to prove that her abuser isn’t really dead.
Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book follows a boy’s adventures as he stumbles across a trio of witches.
The story was adapted into a popular 1990 film, although the plotline differed from the book and Roald Dahl reportedly disliked it.
The 2020 version of The Witches is said to follow the original story more closely and will star Anne Hathaway as the Grand High Witch. Octavia Spencer, Stanley Tucci and Chris Rock have also joined the cast.
The famous Doctor Dolittle book series about a man who can talk to animals has been adapted for the big screen once again, following two earlier films from 1967 and 1998 (the latter starring Eddie Murphy).
The new incarnation follows the books more closely and sees Robert Downey Jr. taking on the titular role in Dolittle, as he goes an adventure across the seas with his menagerie of animal friends.
The array of animated characters are voiced by a long list of stars including Emma Thompson, John Cena, Rami Malek, Ralph Fiennes and Selena Gomez.
Jane Austen’s novel Emma follows headstrong Emma Woodhouse, who fancies herself as a match-maker and begins meddling in the potential marriages of her friend.
The classic is being adapted once again and the latest screenplay is written by Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton (she won for The Luminaries which she is adapting into a TV series starring Nicole Kidman).
The comedy stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma alongside a cast which includes Josh O Connor, Bill Nighy and Miranda Hart.
One of Beatrix Potter’s best-loved characters, Peter Rabbit was made into a children’s film starring James Corden as the voice of Peter in 2018.
In the sequel, Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway, Bea marries Mr Thomas McGregor and her books about the antics of the rabbits gain popularity. Peter decides to sneak away and live up to his badly-behaved reputation.
James Corden stars again as the voice of Peter Rabbit with Rose Byrne as Bea and Domhnall Gleeson as McGregor.
The Dickens’ classic David Copperfield was the author’s own favourite piece of work and follows the life story of the titular character and interweaves fiction with real events from Charles Dickens’ own life.
In Katherine Applegate’s children’s book, a silver-backed gorilla named Ivan lives in a mall with his elephant friend Stella. Ivan is content with his life unlike Stella, who can remember happier times with the circus and longs to live in a zoo.
After Ivan sees the treatment a young elephant named Ruby experiences when she arrives at the mall, they hatch a plan to escape.
Sam Rockwell voices Ivan, Angelina Jolie is Stella and Brooklynn Prince is Ruby while other voices include Helen Mirren and Danny DeVito.
Buy The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
18. Without Remorse – Tom Clancy
Release date: 18th September 2020
In the book, Navy SEAL John Clark’s pregnant wife is killed in a car crash before he later begins a relationship with a hitchhiker named Pam. He eventually learns Pam is an escaped drug mule and prostitute before she is recaptured and killed. John is set on a path for revenge which wraps him up in complicated missions.
From the descriptions of the film so far, it seems that the plot is slightly different from the book. It’s John Clark’s wife who is murdered and he seeks revenge for her death, rather than the character Pam.
Michael B. Jordan plays John Clark, getting lost inside a deeper conspiracy in his quest to avenge his wife.
This classic children’s story, first published in 1911, tells the tale of Mary Lennox, an unloved, neglected child raised in India, who finds herself orphaned after a Cholera epidemic kills her parents. Mary is sent to Yorkshire to live with her wealthy hunchbacked uncle, Mr Archibold Craven at Misselthwaite Manor.
The story follows the adventures of Mary, her brother Dickon and her cousin Colin and their magical encounters in the Secret Garden.
The tale has been adapted for the big screen and will star Dixie Egerickx as Mary, Colin Firth as Archibald Craven and Julie Walters as Mrs Medlock.
The New York Times Bestseller focuses on a child psychologist, Anna Fox, who lives alone in New York. Crippled by Agoraphobia, Fox has not left her house in 10 months and has taken to spying on her new neighbours.
She witnesses a disturbing act of violence, which forces her to confront her fears as she seeks to uncover the truth about what really happened.
An adaptation, peppered with suspense, has been made for the big screen, starring Amy Adams as Dr Anna Fox and directed by Joe Wright.
The release date was pushed from October 2019 to May 2020 due to reshoots; the movie reportedly left test audiences baffled. It may be a good idea to read the novel before you watch the film!
Based on Henry James’ novella ‘The Turn of the Screw’ this hauntingly modern adaptation of the classic is coming to the big screen early 2020.
DreamWorks Pictures takes us deep into the countryside, where newly appointed Nanny Kate has been employed to care for two disturbed orphans, Flora and Miles. She quickly discovers that everything is not what it appears and the house, and the children, are harbouring deep secrets.
This haunted-house thriller is directed by Floria Sigismondi. Starring: Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince and Joely Richardson.