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From Shelf to Screen in 2014

and | Monday, January 20, 2014



Now that “The Wolf of Wall Street” has captured the attention of BuzzFeed articles and aspirational traders across the country, we can look forward to even more books being translated into films over the course of 2014. While a movie can never fully encapsulate the experience of a book, with luck, these re-imaginings can provide us with vivid and inspiring interpretations.

1. “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin

No, it’s not Shakespeare, but it may as well be, since Helprin is an astounding author with an uncanny ability to tap into the fantastic and the mundane simultaneously. The trailer introduces Colin Farrell of “Saving Mr. Banks” as middle-aged Irish burglar Peter Lake and Jessica Brown Findlay of “Downton Abbey” as terminally ill Beverly Penn at the beginning of this extraordinary love story. Russell Crowe plays villain Pearley Soames, Will Smith plays the Judge, and together with a magical white horse, the cast is bound to create a magnificent performance.

2. “A Long Way Down” by Nick Hornby

This No. 1 Bestseller may be morbid (it’s about four characters convening on a roof on New Year’s Eve to jump to their deaths), but the film is bound to be filled with hilarious antics and profound moments of reflection. Set in the expansive and lively city of London, Pierce Brosnan stars alongside Aaron Paul, Rosamund Pike and Imogen Poots. You know this is going to be good because Johnny Depp apparently bought the rights for this movie before the book was even released.

3. “Divergent” by Veronica Roth

The next big dystopian series on the market, of course, must be made into a hit-‘em-hard action and romance movie. In a world where 16-year-olds must define themselves according to one personality trait, Roth’s heroine makes a choice that plunges her into a life of adventure and intrigue. While Shailene Woodley is no Jennifer Lawrence, this film’s fast-paced plot will nevertheless draws thousands on opening night.

4. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Shailene Woodley is at it again, but this time with a movie fit to succeed the likes of “A Walk to Remember,” but with a better sense of humor and a penchant for travel. “The Fault in Our Stars,” whose title is a variation of a line from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” was TIME Magazine’s No. 1 Fiction for 2012. The story follows Hazel, a terminal cancer patient, who meets cancer-survivor Augustus and sparks the escapade of her life. Woodley plays Hazel opposite Ansel Elgort (who, coincidentally, was cast as her brother in “Divergent”).

5. “The Giver” by Lois Lowry

A childhood favorite of Millennials and the winner of the 1994 Newbery Prize, “The Giver” is a wise, acutely written novel that borders on science fiction à la Madeleine L’Engle. Twelve-year-old Jonas is chosen to become the keeper of memories for a seemingly perfect community, and he learns the true pains and pleasures that come with reality. The cast for this film is stacked: Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes … and Taylor Swift. As long as Swift knows this book isn’t a “Fairy Tale,” the movie is bound to be a hit.

6. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn

This book topped the bestseller list for months, and for good reason. The suspense inherent in a potential uxoricide, on the victim’s fifth wedding anniversary no less, took readers on a murder-mystery thrill ride. Ben Affleck is the man in question, and Rosamund Pike plays his missing wife, with other stars including Neil Patrick Harris and Missi Pyle. As of last week, however, rumor has it that the movie will have a completely different ending than the book.

7. “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed

Buoyed by its role in Oprah’s reopening of her Book Club 2.0, “Wild” tells the story of a woman who recovers after the loss of her mother and her marriage when she discovers herself on the Pacific Crest Trail. She hikes 1,100 miles and sees some of the most beautiful landscapes the West Coast has to offer. Reese Witherspoon’s charm will lend great likeability to this otherwise sharp and determined character.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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