Movies based on books in November and December 2019

Here are several films coming out this fall/winter that are based on books. Usually features given a release date during this time come with some buzz as the awards season has kicked off. Surely there are also those that are from original screenplays, a few are highly anticipated titles as well. Another post for them.

Here’s a list of upcoming book to screen features. Some are in theatres already.


The Good Liar

The Good Liar.jpg

This is an interesting premise: From an online dating site, two people meet, each having an agenda of his/her own. They are octogenarian con artist Roy and his seemingly easy, slightly younger prey Betty, a wealthy widow. Played by two veterans of the stage and screen, Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren, just to watch their performance would be pleasure enough, not to mention how the plot thickens. Bill Condon directs. Based on the debut novel by Nicholas Searle; the name BTW, is a pseudonym. The author is a former UK intelligence officer before turning full-time writer. Now that’s intriguing.


The Irishman 

The Irishman.jpg

A highly anticipated Scorsese movie and it’s based on a book; many of the director’s works are.  This one is adapted from Charles Brandt’s true crime novel about the ‘Irishman’ Frank Sheeran, the hitman who murdered Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. Screenplay is by Steven Zaillian, the Oscar winning writer who adapted Schindler’s List for the big screen. A Scorsese cast with Robert De Niro as Sheeran, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Anna Paquin. Limited release in theatres, then on Netflix, which makes it another potential clash with studio gatekeeper Spielberg.


Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit Movie Still


Winner of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award at TIFF 2019. The award has always been cited as an indicator of Oscar Best Picture, like last year’s The Green Book. But just like last year, the feature is embraced by viewers but received mixed reviews by critics. Billed as an ‘Anti-Hate Satire’, the farcical rendition is helmed by New Zealand director Taika Waititi who also stars as Adolf Hitler, a caricature and imaginary friend of 10 yr. old Jojo going through tough times towards the end of WWII. Scarlett Johansson and Sam Rockwell co-star. The movie is loosely based on the book Caging Skies by New Zealand-Belgian novelist Christine Leunens. How much has Waititi taken out from the book and how much is his own imagination? A good case study of the boundary and definition of movie adaptations.


Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn.jpg

Edward Norton has wanted to make the movie ever since he read Jonathan Lethem’s detective novel, a 1999 National Book Critics Circle Award winner. So, it’s taken him 20 years to do it, himself being the screenwriter, director, actor, and producer. Norton plays Lionel Essrog, a detective with Tourette’s syndrome, a disorder which afflicts him with involuntary tics. While keeping the location in NYC, Norton has changed the time to the 50’s from 1999, thereby introducing some nostalgic designs and costumes, and noir for taste. Cast includes Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Willem Defoe, Bruce Willis, and Alec Baldwin.


Little Women


It has been 25 years since the last full feature adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women. This updated remake is in the hands of Greta Gerwig, whose Lady Bird (2017) brought her two Oscar noms, for Best Director and Original Screenplay. But what left an indelible memory for me is her role as Frances in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha (2012). Now thinking back to her character Frances, a young dancer striving on her own in NYC, it shares the spirit of Jo March in Little Women: independent, fresh, and authentic. Great cast with Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep. A film I most look forward to this holidays season.




For all ye ailurophiles and musical lovers. Based on T. S. Eliot’s collection of poems Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats is hailed as one of the biggest hits in theatrical history on their website. Director Tom Hooper has another musical-turned-movie under his belt: Les Misérables (2012) which won 3 Oscars. Attractive cast in Cats the movie: Idris Elba, Jennifer Hudson, Judi Dench, Rebel Wilson, Ian McKellen, James Corden, Taylor Swift.



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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

11 thoughts on “Movies based on books in November and December 2019”

  1. Hi Arti,

    Thank you for writing about this new movie!!

    I love the Little Women book and the June Allyson take, and the Winona Ryder take I became used to, and the Katherine Hepburn take I liked very much although I think that she over acted a bit…..but this new one which trailer I watched, appears to be wholly other than the book. Meryl Streep in the little bit in the trailer is not convincing as Aunt March as her beauty outshines any old lady effect (and I just turned 76), and the girls are not, to me, young women of the period of 1868, which Louisa May Alcott wrote to portray.

    I might be able to watch as though it was a wholly different story than Little Women. We will see. Most of the fun and joy in watching the Little Women movies is the portrayal of the 1868’s times and ways and customs. For me, modernizing the story takes away rather than adding to, but then, all of this si based on only the trailer.

    God bless, C-Marie


    1. C-Marie,

      You’ve certainly pointed out, albeit maybe implicitly, how difficult it is to make a movie based on an old time classic. A director in 2019 using contemporary techniques and cast would create a version that would be very different from LMA’s time. And with the adaptation process, many issues are open to debate, and lots of ripples have been generated here at the Pond regarding the pros and cons of being ‘loyal’ to the original or diverging into a different path. However, I feel the most important is to put on screen the spirit of the novel. With Little Women, the main thrust would be the inner qualities that define womanhood and the values that carry the March family through both tough and good times. I’m listening to the audiobook now, a ‘reread’ of this classic that I first read as a young teenager. I find it so relevant even for us in 2019. Let’s just hope Greta Gerwig’s adaptation is a worthy project.

      As for Aunt March, let’s just take her as an archetype. Then maybe it will be easier to accept MS’s portrayal of her. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by the Pond and throwing in your two pebbles.


      1. Well said, Arti. I do remember my childhood of the forties and fifties, and this story is very much a part of them, but I do take your take, I believe, that the individuality of each young woman in the story and their dreams that they follow as best as they can under the constraints in their society, will be the same and yet shown in a new way, deeper, livelier, and yet very true to each one. But even so, dear Ms. Streep just does not have enough wrinkles and aging for me!! Ever the best, C-Marie

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a couple here that appeal: The Good Liar and The Irishman. The thought of Judi Dench in Cats is intriguing. I do enjoy her, but I’m not sure I’m willing to give the musical another try. I saw it live in Kansas City, and that was enough. I’d much rather read Eliot’s original.


    1. Linda,

      If you’ve seen the musical, I can fully understand you’d skip the movie. And reading Eliot’s original is a good idea, esp. for one like me, who is afflicted with ailurophobia.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t realise the Irishman and Good Liar were based on books.
    I have just watched Jojo Rabbit and ordered the book to see if it would be suitable for children at school to read. It was a very daring film, not least the director having to play the Hitler part because no-one else would take it on. Sometimes it was too absurd, but at the end, I was very moved because it conveyed to me the sense of what it was like to lose someone you loved in such terrible circumstances. A very good example of how things don’t have to be literal to give you the intended sense.


    1. I have reservations about Jojo Rabbit. Taika Waititi’s performance makes me feel there’s an element of self-aggrandizing in it. Also, from his interviews, I gathered that his comedic satire is nothing like the book, which is sombre, dark and serious, not children’s reading material, I don’t think. I have issue with that, i.e., filmmakers taking the source material and just run their own way contrary to the mood and literary intention. (It’s different from elaboration and artistic rendering.) From the interviews, I doubt if he had even finish reading the book. At first, I was thinking of reading it to write a critique on this movie but decided I didn’t want to waste time discussing about it any more. Would be interesting to see what you think after reading the book.


      1. That was an interesting read. I don’t think it is filmable in its entirety as the second half is dark in a psychological way with sexual content, about the mental damage that war can wreak. It was an interesting example of how a book has more space to get across complex ideas than a film. The feel of the film and the first half of the book were fairly similar though, with the key arguments, emotions and moments present in both. The film was more comedic. And on one level maybe the fantasy Hitler was inspired by the mental health issues that came later in the book. I will have to read some interviews now to find out more.


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