It is not surprising that movies in the 21st century are still adaptations of books. This has been going on for some time, and it seems that there is no way of stopping it. Of course, every time a film gets developed, there are cynics that say books are always better, and most of the time, they are—because we are all akin to liking our own take on a story, creating the perfect characters in our heads and seeing them as we want them to be.
But then there are some films that exceeded expectations as far as adaptation is concerned, and some of them are from this century. Check them out:
Brokeback Mountain, 2005
It was extremely controversial when it first came out, but thanks to a lot of films and TV shows (not to mention activist causes) that opened the acceptance of LGBT relationships, this film is easier on the eyes now compared to the pitchforks that greeted it in 2005.
A rodeo cowboy and a ranch hand meet while herding sheep, and a few days later, they get drunk and have sex and try to forget any of it happened—but it didn’t. They carry on seeing each other for a long time, despite the fact that they are married and have their own families.
Brokeback Mountain is based on the short story by Annie Proulx, and despite what it may seem, it is really more about forbidden love than being gay cowboys.
Ten years after Brokeback Mountain is a lesbian love story between a department store clerk named Therese and a beautiful older woman named Carol. Carol’s marriage is anything but ideal, so she starts a relationship with the clerk, and as their romance blossoms, they find themselves facing obstacles at every corner.
Adapted from the 1952 novel by Patricia Highsmith called The Price of Salt, this passionate love story was written in a time where same-sex relationships are still considered taboo, although the audience were more accepting about Carol in theaters than they were with Brokeback Mountain just ten years before.
The French-Iranian-American film is based on Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel, which reflects on her difficult childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution, to her teenage life in Austria, where she failed miserably in connecting with other people in early adulthood.
Satrapi not only wrote the graphic novel herself, she also wrote and directed the film, and thanks to this, the adaptation is faithful and effective, making Persepolis one of the best graphic novel adaptations ever.
12 Years a Slave, 2013
The film did not gather Academy Awards for nothing. The story of a free black violinist in the New York State takes a turn when he was sold into slavery and forced to work on a plantation in New Orleans, serving different slave owners as he struggles to survive.
The film, directed by Steve McQueen, is based on Solomon Northup’s own memoir, where he explicitly outlines his experiences as a slave. It is very hard to watch but is an essential piece of cinema that gives light to the horrors African-Americans faced before the Civil War.
No Country for Old Men, 2007
Vietnam veteran Llewelyn Moss stumbled into the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong. He finds bodies and a pilot’s case with two million dollars in cash, and he can’t resist taking it. However, the law pursues him, but more than that, so does a merciless killer.
Based on the Cormic McCarthy novel of the same name, the cat-and-mouse game is considered the Coen brothers’ best work, keeping audiences’ hearts pumping while being faithful to the source.
The Pianist, 2002
At the beginning of World War II, Polish-Jewish radio station pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman and his family were forced into the Warsaw Ghetto as the Nazi’s hold strengthens in the country, separating them during the crucial years.
Based on his own memoir, the film speaks about he survived and lived through exterminations camps and more during Hitler’s reign. There is not a lot of difference between the book and the film, but the latter did succeed in showing the horror of what happened in Warsaw. Part of the reason the film is so effective is the evident involvement of Roman Polanski, the director who also happened to be a survivor of the Holocaust.