Book to Movie Adaptations 2020

A list of upcoming book to screen titles for the new year, eclectic choices for different tastes, varied classics and contemporary notables. Looks like classic literary works of all sorts are enjoying a comeback on the big and small screens.

Classic Suspense:

Classic Mystery.jpgDeath on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Kenneth Branagh returns after his first Hercule Poirot take in Murder on the Orient Express (2017) which he directs. Once again, the prolific screenwriter/adaptor Michael Green pitches in. Interesting cast with Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening.

RebeccaRebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Lily James is ubiquitous ever since she comes out of Downton as Lady Rose. Now she’s the young and naive Mrs. De Winter in a psychological warfare with her nemesis, housekeeper Mrs. Danver played by Kristen Scott Thomas. Can the master of Manderley save her? But of course, he must save himself first. That’s Armie Hammer, equally ubiquitous.

Classic Adventure:

The Call of the Wild.jpgThe Call of the Wild by Jack London

Harrison Ford heeds the call with action star Karen Gillan, Dan Stevens, and the Calgary-born, The Expanse star Cara Gee. Partially filmed in Yukon and some in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Never heard of the Yukon Territories? This should be a good intro. I’m all for old classics, be they books or actors.

DOCTOR D (1).jpegVoyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Movie title Dolittle, an adventure spectacle with Robert Downey Jr. as the eponymous Doctor. See if you can identify the voices of these animals: Rami Malek, Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Marion Cotillard, Octavia Spencer… just to name a few of the stars in this production. Coming out January 17.


Classic Sci-Fi’s:

The Invisible ManThe Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

Classic sci-fi gets a resurrected boost. Wells’ novella and cautionary tale was first published in 1897. Now 123 years later in the 21st century, it’s adapted into a movie for the big screen. The Handmaid’s Tale Elizabeth Moss stars.

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley

Huxley’s dystopian, imagined future written in 1931 is adapted into a TV series almost 90 years later. Again, a mark of what makes a book a classic, especially a sci-fi work. Downton early-exit Lady Sybil Jessica Brown Findlay’s in.

DuneDune by Frank Herbert

Another sci-fi classic, but closer to our time. A project by the acclaimed French Canadian director Dennis Villeneuve who has done some remarkable works like the Oscar nominated Arrival (2016), Blade Runner 2049 (2017) and Sicario (2015). Adapted into screen by Oscar winning writer Eric Roth (Forest Gump, 1994; A Star is Born, 2018). Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, and Oscar Isaac star.

Classic YA’s: 

Artemis_Fowl_first_edition_coverArtemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

The first of Colfer’s popular series is a Disney production with Kenneth Branagh directing. A trending genre, the YA fantasy series has great potentials to be successful. A strong cast including Hong Chau, Judi Dench, Josh Gad.


The Secret Garden.jpgThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Like Little Women, this classic young reader novel has had several screen adaptations. I have no qualms about this; it only helps to spark renewed interest in the book. This new adaptation will have Colin Firth who was in the 1993 version to play Lord Archibald Craven and Julie Walters as Mrs. Medlock.

Contemporary Notables:

I Know this much is True.jpgI Know this much is True by Wally Lamb

Lamb’s novel about a twin brother’s advocacy and care for his paranoid schizophrenic sibling is adapted into a 6 episode TV miniseries. Mark Ruffalo will play both brothers, Dominick and Thomas Birdsey. Director Derek Cianfrance has a few fine works, the Cannes nominee Blue Valentine (2010), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), and The Light Between Oceans (2016).

Little Fires.jpgLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Goodreads Choice of the Year Best Fiction (2017) and Novel of the Year on other sites, Chinese American writer Celeste Ng’s novel on class/race differences and aspirational conflicts in the idyllic community of Shaker Heights, Ohio, is adapted into a TV miniseries. Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington star.

Nine Perfect StrangersNine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty’s website states her books had sold over 14 million copies worldwide. On the heels of her successful Big Little Lies turned into the small screen, Nine Perfect Strangers has already secured Nicole Kidman and Melissa McCarthy on board for the miniseries on Hulu. Her other books will follow.

the woman in the window.jpgThe Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

A shaky narrator seeing a crime happening or being caught in one, Gone Girl was the first to kick off the trend. The Woman in the Window alludes to the Hitchcock classic Rear Window. Directed by Joe Wright (Darkest Hour, 2017; Anna Karenina, 2012), screenplay by Pulitzer winner Tracy Letts (August: Osage County, 2013), and an A-list cast with Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore.





Paddington: The Marmalade to Spread on Your Day

What can a little bear from ‘Darkest Peru’ do to ease one’s tension, uplift a depressed mood, or simply elicit laughs out loud? Plenty. Paddington can do plenty of good for all of the above. I’d chosen the right film to come out of a stressful month.

Clever, fast-paced, passionate, and very funny, Paddington the movie is 95 minutes of pure delight. Although Michael Bond’s stories first came out in 1958, director and screenwriter Paul King has brought out some relevant, contemporary issues in his adaptation such as migrating to a new land, finding a home, striving to belong, accepting diversity, and basically the universal search for ways we can all live together despite differences.


The movie begins with a black-and-white old news reel. I like that already. An English explorer, Montgomery Clyde (Time Downie), heads over to ‘Darkest Peru’ and discovers a talking bear family. As he leaves, he urges them to visit London. After an earthquake that killed his Uncle Pastuzo (Michael Gambon, voice), the little bear (charmingly voiced by Ben Whishaw) is sent out by Aunt Lucy (voice of Imelda Staunton) to head for a new life in this believed-to-be-friendly London. To send him off, Aunt Lucy hangs a little sign with a string around his neck that says: “Please look after this bear. Thank you.”

And so the little stowaway with a suitcase full of marmalade hides on board a cargo ship and is transported to a foreign land where the Brown family finds him at Paddington Station. Thus his new name.

Despite the chaos that ensues in the Brown household, and the initial reluctance of Mr. Brown (Hugh Bonneville, who is like a Papa bear himself), and daughter Judy (Madeleine Harris, “So embarrassing!”), Paddington’s inept charm readily wins the heart of the enthusiastic Mrs. Brown (the always enthusiastic Sally Hawkins) and very friendly young son Jonathan (Samuel Joslin). Later, Paddington finally gains even the public’s favour with his serendipitous heroism on the streets of London.

Here is no place to argue against stock characters. Of course we need a villain; we have the parallel of Cruella De Vil of 101 Dalmatians in the form of Millicent, played by Nicole Kidman. I’m sure she enjoys doing that too. Driving a van that says Taxi when the sliding door is opened, she soon reveals herself a taxidermist when the door is closed. Good to see stars letting loose in non-typecast roles. Julie Walters and Jim Broadbent also present for you to discover. And if you know what the Paddington Bear author Michael Bond looks like, you can find him in cameo too.

Very well integrated are the effects of real-life, human actors interfacing with the animated bear and other cartoonish scenarios. Do we need to know how the technical genius behind the screen worked, how they used around 600 shots with bears, which required 350 people across two countries working on the visual effects for three years… to enjoy the film? Definitely not, maybe best we don’t go into the complexities of CGI’s, simulations, and yes, how to deal with fur. The final results are all what the technical team had striven for, delivering what they would like us to see. I can fully appreciate the effects. Kudos to them all.

It is definitely a snub Paddington doesn’t get an Oscar nomination, in any category. While in the land of its origin (England, not Peru), Paddington is nominated for two 2015 BAFTA Awards (The ‘British Oscars’): Best Adapted Screenplay and Best British Film. So I do hope the box office here can redeem the slight on this side of the Atlantic. Go see how the little bear and his new-found family can dispel your winter blues. Noms or no noms, this is a winner in my book.

As for that sign Aunt Lucy hangs around Paddington’s neck, we may need to heed it even more in this conflict-ridden world of ours:

“Please look after this bear. Thank you.”

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples


Click on the link to the fascinating article in The Telegraph, Paddington: The technology behind the small bear from Darkest Peru.