They say the book is always better—but sometimes a great movie is just what you need. These book to movie adaptations bring to life some of literature’s best narratives, from historical dramas and epic fantasies to powerful tales of adventure and romance. The best part? They’re all streaming on Netflix now.
Related: The 12 Best Movies Based on Books
All Quiet on the Western Front
Based on the book by Erich Maria Remarque
This epic anti-war film based on the famous novel by a German WWI veteran has been a monumental success for Netflix. It's already been named one of the top five international films of 2022 by the National Board of Review, and at the time of writing has a score of 91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
The classic war novel follows Paul Bäumer, a young German soldier whose dreams of becoming a war hero are shattered once he faces the harsh realities of combat.
Lady Chatterley's Lover
Based on the book by D.H. Lawrence
Though it's known for being one of the most scandalous books of all time, Lady Chatterley's Lover is at its heart a story about class divides, finding happiness in the wake of tragedy, and the connection between mind and body.
Netflix's take has been well-received, with Sheila O'Malley of rogerebert.com applauding its take on the more visceral moments in the film: "Sex isn't just sex, and this is one of the main accomplishments of [director] Clermont-Tonnerre's sensitive and even delicate approach."
Based on the book by Carlo Collodi
Something about Guillermo del Toro adapting this classic Italian children's fantasy book just makes sense. The original story, like many classic children's tales, is rather dark, and del Toro underscores this by placing the 1883 novel in Fascist Italy.
The "visually stunning adaptation" has already won various critic awards, and has a 97 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Based on I Heard You Paint Houses, by Charles Brandt
In case you haven't heard, Martin Scorsese recently released yet another mob film featuring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. But you may not have realized the mob movie was based on the 2004 nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses. Both the book and film attempt to answer the question of what happened to Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), a Teamster who disappeared in 1975. It's unclear just how "true" this true crime story is—but either way, it makes for a great story.
All the Bright Places
Based on All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places has given rise to an incredibly dark and emotional romantic drama adaptation which chronicles an empowering story of personal struggle and healing. The tearjerker follows two teens, one obsessed with death, one marked by death as they talk each other off the ledge, and embark on a cathartic journey through the wonders of Indiana.
Beasts of No Nation
Based on Beast of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala
Based on Uzodinma Iweala’s debut novel and starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah, this brutal vision of war tracks the heartbreaking journey of Agu (Attah), a young boy forced into life as a child soldier.
Based on Dumplin' by Julie Murphy
Though Dumplin' is based on a young adult novel, it tells a story that will resonate with viewers (and readers) of all ages. Danielle Macdonald plays Willowdean Dickson, who is nicknamed Will by her friends and Dumplin' by her mother, Rosie (Jennifer Aniston). Rosie is a former beauty queen who is still entrenched in the pageantry world, leaving Will to be mostly raised by her Aunt Lucy. But after Lucy passes, Will must figure out how to rebuild her relationship with her mother.
The Woman in the Window
Based on the book by A.J. Finn
Another movie that unfortunately doesn’t do its book justice (psychological thriller books are some of the most difficult to adapt); The Woman in the Window feels a bit like a 21st century Rear Window. Anna Fox (Amy Adams) suffers from agoraphobia, and rarely leaves her apartment as a result. One night, she witnesses her new neighbor Jane Russell, whom she has met before, being stabbed to death in her living room. Though she calls the police, they don’t believe her, saying the whole family is fine. And to Anna’s shock, she meets a new “Jane” the next day.
Based on Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
This searing period drama shines a stark light on Jim Crow-era south. Based on Hillary Jordan’s debut novel and starring Mary J. Blige, Carey Mulligan, Jason Mitchell, and Garrett Hedlund, the film follows two families as they endure the hardships and hatreds of post-World War II Mississippi.
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society
Based on the book by Marie Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
A longtime book club favorite after the novel was published in 2008, its film version wasn’t released until 10 years later. Set in 1946, the story follows Juliet Ashton, a London-based author who learns of the eponymous book club set on the island, which had been occupied by Germans until the end of World War II. Despite their protests, she decides to travel there and learn more about them—and discovers much more than she could ever have expected.
Our Souls at Night
Based on Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda, this moving tale of autumn love is based on Kent Haruf’s literary romance novel. Addie (Fonda) and Louis (Redford) are neighbors whose spouses have both passed away. They strike up a platonic relationship to combat the loneliness. Soon, however, their relationship blossoms into something more than just friendship, and Addie and Louis must work through their grief if they hope to move forward.
Featured still from Howards End, via Sony Pictures Classics