A guide to book adaptation winners – The Hollywood Reporter

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The Green Knight

Author: Anonymous

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is perhaps the best-known Arthurian tale, a 14th-century ode to chivalry and mortality borrowed from Welsh, Irish and English folklore. “What captivated me about this story, aside from its heavy metal craziness, is that it’s about a knight who willingly embarks on a journey to his own death,” says writer-director David Lowery, whose stylish A24 film adaptation stars Dev Patel. . as Gawain. “The ways in which both the hero and anonymous author grapple with mortality and mortal fallibility is as new and relevant today as it was when it was written more than 700 years ago.”

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Dev Patel as Sir Gawain in A24s The Green Knight.
Thanks to Eric Zachanowich/A24

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Macbeth

Author: William Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s classic tale of ambition, power, corruption and murder has been called “The Scottish Play” by superstitious actors for centuries, but it’s likely that Oscar-winning titans Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand had little to fear when they landed the part. from Lord and Lady Macbeth in this latest movie version. McDormand’s husband, Joel Coen, who wrote and directed this adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy (or “tragedy,” as it was known when it was first staged in 1606), takes a hard look at the supernatural undertones of the source material and presents a stark, brutalist, black-and-white-and-white interpretation of the bard’s play.

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Frances McDormand as Lady Macbeth in A24/Apple TV+s The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Courtesy of Apple TV+.

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pass

Author: Nella Larsen

Larsen, a Harlem Renaissance literary icon based on publishing two standout novels in her career, wrote this story of two childhood friends—Irene, who identifies as Black, and Clare, who passes for white—who reconnect as adults and find themselves getting deeply involved in each other’s lives. “when adjusting” pass, I found that the questions Nella Larsen grappled with in 1929 — questions of identity, race, sexuality, gender, and class — are just as captivating and deeply personal today,” said Rebecca Hall, who made her directorial debut with the Netflix adaptation of Larsens book “I hope my film has a fraction of the staying power of her indelible novel.”

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Ruth Negga as Clare (left) and Tessa Thompson as Irene in Netflix’s pass.
Thanks to Sundance Institute

'Passing' by Nella Larsen

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Cyrano de Bergerac

Author: Edmond Rostand

“This felt so topical to me,” says Erica Schmidt of Cyrano de Bergerac, which she first rediscovered as a stage musical before director Joe Wright brought her new take on the story to the big screen. In Wright’s adaptation, Peter Dinklage plays the eponymous playwright and romantic (aside from the character’s iconic elongated nose) who aids his friend Christian in the pursuit of the beautiful Roxanne — though Cyrano is also in love with Roxanne. “Cyrano felt vital because of that deep, timeless, urgent desire to have everything we want—and the horrible fear underneath that we’re really not worthy of being loved at all.”

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Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Christian in Features’ Focus Cyrano.
Courtesy of Peter Mountain/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

'Cyrano de Bergerac' by Edmond Rostand

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Dune

Author: Frank Herbert

Herbert’s 1965 historical science fiction epic was largely considered unfilmable (example: David Lynch’s 1984 version). Dune However, mega fan Denis Villeneuve achieved the near-impossible with his latest film, which covers the first half of the tome. “Frank Herbert Wrote” Dune as a warning to charismatic heroes and the danger of messianic figures’, the director says about the timelessness of the book. “We can still see political powers arming religion and, conversely, religions infiltrating politics. But what makes this book even more relevant are the environmental concerns, which over time became tragically prophetic.”

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Zendaya as Chani in Warner Bros.’ adjustment of Dune.
Courtesy of Chia Bella James/Warner Bros.

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The power of the dog

Author: Thomas Savage

Savage’s 1967 novel forms the basis for Oscar winner Jane Campion’s first feature film in 12 years. The power of the dog follows a mean and crazy farmer named Phil Burbank (Benedict Cumberbatch), who makes life hell for his brother and new sister-in-law. “I couldn’t guess what was going to happen,” Campion says of the novel. “It’s not just any 1925 cowboy story about farm life; this is a lived experience, and I think that made me feel real confidence in the story. I wanted to honor Thomas Savage with this film. When I read a book like this, I don’t take the adaptation lightly. I want it to be as good as possible. I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist, but I like to do things very thoroughly.”

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Benedict Cumberbatch (left) and Jesse Plemons in Netflix’s The power of the dog.
Courtesy of Kirsty Griffin/Netflix

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The Prodigal Daughter

Author: Elena Ferrante

This book from the pseudonymous writer — whose best-selling Neapolitan novels sparked “Ferrante Fever” on both sides of the Atlantic — forms the basis for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s directorial debut. Ferrante’s book tells the story of a woman (Olivia Colman) who becomes obsessed with a young mother (Dakota Johnson), offering an intimate internal look at motherhood. “A secret piece of my experience as a mother, as a lover, as a woman in the world was first spoken out loud,” says Gyllenhaal, who also wrote the script. “I thought, ‘How exciting and dangerous to create such an experience – not quietly and alone with a book – but in a room full of living, feeling people.’ “

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Dakota Johnson as Nina in Netflix’s The Prodigal Daughter.
Courtesy of Telluride Film Festival

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nightmare alley

Author: William Lindsay Gresham

Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro credits actor Ron Perlman for introducing Gresham’s dark novel, which formed the basis for the 1947 film noir of the same name. Del Toro’s version, co-written with Kim Morgan, is a second adaptation — not a remake of the earlier film. — from Gresham’s story of a con man turned carnival barker, Stan Carlisle (played in the film by Bradley Cooper), with a knack for manipulating those around him for his own gain. Toni Collette, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett play three women in Stan’s life as he plans his path to success.

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Rooney Mara and Bradley Cooper in Searchlight’s Nightmare alley.
Courtesy of Kerry Hayes/20th Century Studios

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The Tender Bar

Author: JR Moehringer

George Clooney directs the adaptation of Moehringer’s memoir, from a script by Oscar winner William Monahan. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Moehringer looks back on his childhood, when he was raised by his single mother (played in the film by Lily Rabe) and her extended family—and writes fondly about finding a father figure in his literature-loving bartender— uncle, Charlie (Ben Affleck). In the coming-of-age film, Moehringer jumps back and forth in time, with Tye Sheridan and newcomer Daniel Ranieri playing the author (and actor Ron Livingston giving his ubiquitous narration).

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Lily Rabe and Daniel Ranieri at Amazon’s The Tender Bar.
Courtesy of Claire Folger/Amazon Studios

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This story first appeared in the November 22 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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