From Page to Screen: Bookish Films for 2016

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On February 28, Hollywood’s glitterati will gather at the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony to find out who will go home with Oscar. Among the films up for major awards, seven are adapted from books, including five of the eight nominees for Best Picture. A cynic may chalk this up to a lack of imagination on the part of movie execs, but more optimistic bluestockings attribute it to a truth—we hope—is universally acknowledged: that literature’s long legacy of entertaining us with compelling stories and complex characters continues.

Here at Bas Bleu, we’re the first to argue that the book is (usually) better than the movie. But that doesn’t prevent us from enjoying a good literary film adaptation! In case you agree, we’ve put together a quick list of just a few of the books coming to a theater near you in 2016.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies — Now showing
Listen, we’re very tough critics when it comes to Pride and Prejudice adaptations, but the buzz on this wacky adaptation (of Seth Grahame-Smith’s eye-popping take on Jane Austen’s beloved classic) is actually positive so far. The story is a simple one: Five sisters in nineteenth-century England must battle marital expectations and rampaging hordes of the undead. As best we can tell, plenty of liberties are taken—Mr. Darcy is now Colonel Darcy (so long, Colonel Fitzwilliam?) and Lizzy is really handy with a knife—but this horror film just may be offbeat enough to be entertaining.

The Little Prince — March 18
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 novella about a pilot who crash-lands in the Sahara and meets a very unusual little boy has bewitched generations of readers. This animated film is a sort of “movie within a movie,” about a schoolgirl whose ambitious mother is taking all the fun out of life…and the elderly neighbor the girl befriends after he tells her the story of the Little Prince. The trailer alone left a lump in our throats; pack plenty of tissues for this one!

The Jungle Book — April 15
Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 collection of morality fables has long enchanted youngsters, including the Cub Scouts, whose troops once used The Jungle Book as a motivational text. And you’ve probably seen (and sung along to!) the popular 1967 Disney film inspired by Kipling’s tales. This year, fans of both the written version and the animated film can return to the jungle in this visually stunning live-action account of Mowgli, the orphaned boy raised by wolves…and a bear…and a panther…

The Free State of Jones — May 13
This period piece starring Matthew McConaughey (A Time to Kill, The Lincoln Lawyer) is actually based on several books, including The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War and The Legend of the Free State of Jones. It’s the true story of a poor Mississippi farmer, weary of war, who leads a guerilla rebellion against the Confederacy in Civil War–era America.

Alice Through the Looking Glass — May 27
Looks like we’re all a little bit mad once again, as Tim Burton and Johnny Depp (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) rejoin forces to return to Wonderland. The follow-up to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland, this take on Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There finds Alice (Mia Wasikowska: Jane Eyre, Madame Bovary) traveling back in time to save the Mad Hatter. Weird and wonderful and deliciously eye-catching, this movie looks like a real trip!

Me Before You — June 3
JoJo Moyes’s bestselling novel about the unlikely love that blooms between a paralyzed young man and his effervescent caretaker has left readers weeping uncontrollably since 2012, even as it spurred heated book-club discussions about…well, something major that we won’t give away here. It was just a matter of time before some studio snatched up the film rights. Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games franchise) and Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) both know a thing or two about starring in literary adaptations, and they look heartbreakingly cute doing it.

Hungry for more? Also on the docket in 2016 are big-screen takes on John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Philip Roth’s American Pastoral, M. L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans, Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, and the adaptation of Paula Hawkins’s smash bestseller, The Girl on the Train.

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