Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Timothée Chalamet and more stars are set to take on literary roles.
Hollywood gets inspiration from good books, and you can see why: Just look at the Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, where films based on books are scattered across a number of categories. This year, there are many more promising film adaptations of novels that our critics have enjoyed, which means it’s time to get reading.
Here are a few suggestions, along with some intel on the movie version.
By Rhidian Brook (2013)
Cast: Keira Knightley, Alexander Skarsgard, Jason Clarke, Kate Phillips
Plot: Loyalties are tested when a British colonel relocates to Hamburg in 1946 to oversee the rebuilding of the devastated city after World War II. Instead of displacing the German family that lives in the house requisitioned for him and his family, the colonel decides to let them stay, and drama unfolds.
Our take on the novel: “The situation is ripe for conflict and betrayals, and Brook provides enough of both to keep the plot moving. The predictable romantic tensions and entanglements will doubtless play well on the screen.”
In theaters March 15
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette”
By Maria Semple (2012)
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Billy Crudup
Plot: Bernadette isn’t your typical mom. She suffers from agoraphobia and hates her suffocating life in Seattle. When she suddenly disappears, it’s up to her daughter to find out where she went.
Our take on the novel: “Semple is such a talent that suspending disbelief becomes part of the fun. This is an inventive and very funny novel that gets bonus points for transcending form.”
In theaters March 22
By Stephen King (1983)
Cast: John Lithgow, Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz
Plot: A doctor moves with his family to rural Maine, where they learn about a makeshift pet graveyard that gives dead animals a second life. (Previously adapted for a movie released in 1989.)
Our take on the novel: “Pet Sematary is one of the most vivid, powerful and disturbing tales [King] has written. His hallmarks — effortless, colloquial prose and an unerring instinct for the visceral — are in evidence throughout, but this novel succeeds because of King’s ability to produce characters so familiar that they may as well have lived next door for years.”
In theaters April 5
“The Sun Is Also a Star”
By Nicola Yoon (2016)
Cast: Yara Shahidi, Charles Melton, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Jake Choi
Plot: Two troubled teenagers meet by accident and roam New York City together. Natasha’s family is facing deportation to Jamaica. Daniel wants to escape the Ivy League medical track his father has planned for him. During their adventures, lives are changed.
Our take on the novel: “The story is playful and tender, yes, but … timely and penetrating as well. This is no ordinary day. … This wider view reminds us that actions — large and small, hurtful and kind — can have a ‘rippling effect’ upon the world.”
In theaters May 17
“The Woman in the Window”
By A.J. Finn (2018)
Cast: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, Wyatt Russell
Plot: An alcoholic, agoraphobic woman witnesses a neighbor’s murder and reports it to the police. But there’s no body and no other evidence of a killing. (Full disclosure: A recent New Yorker exposé about the author’s history of deceptions noted similarities between the book and the 1995 film “Copycat.” The book also owes an acknowledged debt to Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window.” Nevertheless, the novel was a huge hit, and the movie is still getting major buzz.)
Our take on the novel: “The Woman in the Window” is first-rate entertainment that is finally a moving portrait of a woman fighting to preserve her sanity.”
In theaters Oct. 4
By Donna Tartt (2013)
Cast: Sarah Paulson, Nicole Kidman, Ansel Elgort, Luke Wilson and Jeffrey Wright
Plot: Theo Decker survives a terrorist bombing in a museum at 13 and begins a life of strange adventures after stumbling from the museum with his slain mother’s favorite painting.
Our take on the novel: “With a Dutch master’s attention to detail, Tartt has created a narrative voice that is simultaneously immediate and retrospective, filled with the boy’s adolescent anxieties and the man’s fermented despair.”
In theaters Oct. 11
By Louisa May Alcott (1868)
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Meryl Streep, Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern (and directed by Greta Gerwig)
Plot:The American classic of four teenage sisters growing up during the American Civil War. (Adapted repeatedly for movies and TV series.)
Our take on the novel: “Alcott had a singular gift for creating what felt like a hermetic unit, where people were richly people, but also pulleys and levers, their individual actions influencing the other characters, and us as readers.”
In theaters Dec. 25
“How to Build a Girl”
By Caitlin Moran (2014)
Cast: Emma Thompson, Chris O’Dowd, Jameela Jamil, Alfie Allen and Beanie Feldstein
Plot: In an attempt to find a way to escape her dreary life, a British teen reinvents herself as hard-partying music critic “Dolly Wilde.”
Our take on the novel: “But for all her humiliations — and there are plenty — Johanna is an irrepressible narrator, telling a mostly-true and funny tale of survival and success.”
Release date to be announced.