2015 has been a big year for book-to-film adaptations, and we asked our YA-loving and film buff Category Manager Ruth for her top book-to-film picks of 2015.
2015* was a great year for movies, and some of the best of a good crop were movies based on books. I’ve picked out my personal top 10 of the year, which reflects far more on my tastes than the merits of these movies.
Certainly the fact that The Theory of Everything
isn’t my default number one will probably shock many people (especially when they see what I billed above it). But I know that I will watch my top three again and again and that’s all I need to know that they’re my favourites.
10. American Sniper
Usually I think we as Australians see a movie coming up with ‘America’ in the title and think ‘Well, that’s probably not for me’. This movie was definitely an exception. The combined skills of Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller manage to make this story profoundly watchable and it’s managed to sneak into my top 10 of 2015.
9. Black Mass
It’s a little hard to make a two hour movie work well when you know from the first few minutes pretty much exactly how it will end. Add to that some fairly slow patches and a somewhat flat performance from Benedict Cumberbatch and you might have an average gangster flick. What propels this movie into my top ten are the unbelievably good performances by Johnny Depp and Julianne Nicholson; they have one main scene together and I don’t think anyone in my cinema took a breath through that whole confrontation. Props to Johnny’s hair and makeup team too!
8. Still Alice
I loved this book passionately and I was incredibly nervous when I heard it would soon be a film. I had no cause to be though – the story was flawlessly executed in all its tragedy and Julianne Moore absolutely deserved the Oscar she got for this role. Kirsten Stewart also really nailed this supporting role and the mother/daughter relationship (which was emphasised in the movie more than the book) is guaranteed to bring a tear to anyone’s eye.
7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
This is a great book and the movie pretty much nails it. This is the antidote to everything that’s been popular in the teen fiction over the last two years. The characters are awkward and confused and profoundly real and this comes much closer to a normal teen experience than anything I’ve come across in this genre for a while.
6. The Dressmaker
If you haven’t yet seen this movie I have two pieces of advice for you. 1. Watch it. 2. If possible don’t watch the trailer first. This movie takes you in a direction that you absolutely don’t expect. Be prepared to be shocked and devastated. Despite that, it’s a pretty incredible movie and definitely worth your time.
5. The Theory of Everything
Nominated for best pictured and winner of best actor, this movie deserved to be the movie to turn Eddie Redmayne into a household name. It’s a phenomenal story and the execution was superb. While it left a lot out (I’d definitely recommend reading the book, and the reviews of the book, to get the full picture) what it did deliver was an incredibly compelling story that had everyone talking.
4. The Imitation Game
It was really hard to pick which I liked better between this and The Theory of Everything
. Both left me equally emotionally shattered but for every different reasons. Both are fantastic movies but I think the tipping point for me was that although Eddie’s performance was amazing I feel like his co-star’s performances paled in response. Maybe that’s because he’s just too good. In comparison Benedict, Keira and the entire cast shined in The Imitation Game which made it, for me, a much more engaging film.
3. Far from the Madding Crowd
This was an unexpected favourite from 2015. I can’t put my finger on quite what I loved about it. Carey Mulligan was fantastic, but then she always is. The screenplay was written by the incredibly talented David Nicholls, which was always going to a hook for me. Matthias Schoenaerts is a bit of a dish which definitely helped. And I know I’m a sucker for a feminist period drama. Maybe it was a combination of all of those but it is definitely a movie I’ll see again.
2. The Duff
It’s a rare thing when I think the movie is substantially better than the book but it’s definitely true with The Duff. This movie had me cracking up from the credits right the way through. Mae Whitman was perfect and some of the comedy was just flawless. Yes it’s a movie that will date quickly and yes it’s mostly just re-doing everything that’s come before it (I watched this back to back with Mean Girls; I really don’t advise you try it!). I don’t care though – it’s the only movie this year that made me cry with laughter and that gets it into my top 2.
1. The Martian
Anyone who knows me will know this was my most anticipated movie of the year. I’ve been raving about the book and forcing it into the hands of the most unlikely readers with the passionate screech ‘But you have to read the book before the movie comes out!’. Well the movie is now out and the fact that it actually lived up to my exceedingly high expectations is, quite frankly, stunning. Don’t get me wrong – the book is better. There’s more to the story, the humour is even funnier and the ending isn’t quite so silly. But Ridley Scott and Matt Damon did an amazing job, and Drew Goddard (who wrote the screenplay and is one of my all time favourite writers) really nailed this script adaptation. It’s my number one for the fact that I could not stop smiling from start to finish; I hope you enjoyed it too. If you did, but you haven’t read the book, shame on you! ;)
*It’s worth noting that two titles I’m really excited about were released on 26th
Dec and this post was mostly written prior to Christmas. However, from the shorts and the online chatter The Danish Girl
sound like two of the most promising movies this Oscar season, each for very different reasons, and I’m really keen to see how they turn out.
It’s also worth noting that when I state that these movies are 2015 movies I’m referring to the Australian general cinema release – many of these appear on ‘Best of 2014’ online lists due to their US dates or film festival releases.