Hollywood gets inspiration from good books, and you can see why: Just look at the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, where films based on books are scattered across a number of categories. This year, there are many more promising film adaptations of novels that our critics have enjoyed, which means it’s time to get reading.
Here are a few suggestions, along with some intel on the movie version.
“The Aftermath,” by Rhidian Brook (2013) Cast: Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Kate Phillips; in theaters March 15
Loyalties are tested when a British colonel relocates to Hamburg in 1946 to oversee the rebuilding of the devastated city after World War II. Instead of displacing the German family that lives in the house requisitioned for him and his family, the colonel decides to let them stay, and drama unfolds.
Our take on the novel: “The situation is ripe for conflict and betrayals, and Brook provides enough of both to keep the plot moving. The predictable romantic tensions and entanglements will doubtless play well on the screen.”
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” by Maria Semple (2012) Cast: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Billy Crudup; in theaters March 22
Bernadette isn’t your typical mom. She suffers from agoraphobia and hates her suffocating life in Seattle. When she suddenly disappears, it’s up to her daughter to find out where she went.
Our take on the novel: “Semple is such a talent that suspending disbelief becomes part of the fun. This is an inventive and very funny novel that gets bonus points for transcending form.”
“Pet Sematary,” by Stephen King (1983) Cast: John Lithgow, Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz; in theaters April 5
A doctor moves with his family to rural Maine, where they learn about a makeshift pet graveyard that gives dead animals a second life. (Previously adapted for a movie released in 1989.)
Our take on the novel: “Pet Sematary is one of the most vivid, powerful and disturbing tales (King) has written. His hallmarks — effortless, colloquial prose and an unerring instinct for the visceral — are in evidence throughout, but this novel succeeds because of King’s ability to produce characters so familiar that they may as well have lived next door for years.”