23 Literary Movies and TV Shows You Should Be Watching This Fall
Everybody knows that fall is the best season for television—and usually books and movies, too. After all, as the weather gets colder, people have more time to stay indoors where it’s warm, or snuggle up in a theater, where there’s popcorn. But what to watch first? Since this is a literary website, I am officially most excited about the upcoming slate of literary film and television—and luckily, I’m also actually most excited about it, because there’s a lot of great stuff on the horizon. Below, I’ve listed 23 literary adaptations and biopics, all hitting the big and small screens this season, all worth a look.
The Miniaturist, 9/9 (PBS)
Based on: Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist (2014)
This three-part miniseries begins as a familiar story: a young bride is sent off to her mysterious new husband’s creaky, secret-filled home. But instead of finding a closet full of dead women or similar, Nella is given a dollhouse that looks exactly like her new home—filled with figures that look remarkably like those who live there, and whose movements, coordinated by an unseen miniaturist, seem to predict the future.
Bel Canto, 9/14 (Screen Media Films)
Based on: Ann Patchett, Bel Canto (2001)
Based on Ann Patchett’s beloved and internationally bestselling novel, which is itself based on the Japanese embassy hostage crisis, Bel Canto is a bottle drama in which a politician’s party is hijacked by a group of terrorists. So far, this adaptation has been getting decidedly mixed reviews, but still: Julianne Moore! Ann Patchett! I’m willing to give it a shot.
The Children Act, 9/14 (A24)
Based on: Ian McEwan, The Children Act (2014)
Honestly, I could take or leave Ian McEwan, but sign me up all day for Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci. Thompson is the star here, as Fiona Maye, a High Court Judge who is forced to make a legal decision for a 17-year-old boy: force him to get a blood transfusion that will save his life, or respect his religion and let him die. Fiona chooses the former, but the fallout is not exactly what she expected. Stanley Tucci plays her husband, who would like very much to have an affair, please.
The Land of Steady Habits, 9/14 (Netflix)
Based on: Ted Thompson, The Land of Steady Habits (2014)
Nicole Holofcener’s The Land of Steady Habits is the story of divorce, middle-age unhappiness, suburban angst and the holiday season—and the way all of these are complicated by our family ties. But the real heart of the story is Anders, recently divorced and retired and completely at a loss as to what to do with his days, let alone his life. Existential drama abounds.
The House With a Clock in Its Walls, 9/21 (Universal Pictures)
Based on: John Bellairs, The House With a Clock in Its Walls (1973)
I loved the John Bellairs books when I was a kid—they were a little like Goosebumps, only older, of course, and a bit further off the beaten path, a little more literary, a little quainter. They were originally illustrated by Edward Gorey, if that gives you an idea. So honestly, even though I’m sure it will be all candied with that sickly sweet big studio gloss, I’m excited for this one, the story of a young boy who goes to live with his uncle in a very strange house indeed. Plus, you know, Cate Blanchett has never steered me wrong.
Colette, 9/21 (Bleecker Street and 30 West)
Based on: the life of writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette
Listen, I’m just going to say up front that I totally do not buy Keira Knightley as Colette, queen of French letters, but the film is getting good reviews and I am prepared to be convinced. I mean, good luck, but okay. The movie roughly tells the story of Colette’s rise to fame, from becoming her husband’s ghostwriter to breaking away from his influence in more ways than one. If you ignore the fact that no one can ever be Colette, it looks like a lot of fun.
The Sisters Brothers, 9/21 (Annapurna Pictures)
Based on: Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers (2011)
This novel is a hell of a lot of fun, and I have high hopes for the movie to be the same, considering a cast like this: you’ve got Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as the eponymous Eli and Charlie Sisters, hitmen on the hunt for a chemist in the California Gold Rush, plus Jake Gyllenhaal as a hired scout and Riz Ahmed as said fugitive chemist. There will be blood, yes, but also some jokes, and possibly some pretty deep moments.
King Lear, 9/28 (Amazon)
Based on: William Shakespeare, King Lear (1605-1606)
The world could always use another Lear adaptation, in my view, especially one with Anthony Hopkins—not to mention Emma Thompson, Florence Pugh (as Cordelia, swoon), Emily Watson, Andrew Scott, and Jim Broadbent. This Lear is set in an alternative present in a militarized London, and well, you already know the plot.
The Happy Prince, 10/5 (Sony Classics)
Based on: the life of Oscar Wilde
Written and directed by Rupert Everett, who also stars as Oscar Wilde, this is a promising, if necessarily tragic, biopic that focuses on the last three years of the literary icon’s life—in exile, body failing, tallying up his decades of wit and lust and betrayal.
The Haunting of Hill House, 10/12 (Netflix)
Based on: Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House (1959)
A modern reimagining of Jackson’s classic gothic horror novel that from the look of things is quite different from the novel—but to be fair, it also looks pretty scary. Which makes it rather like the novel after all.
First Man, 10/12 (Universal Pictures)
Based on: James R. Hansen, First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong (2005)
Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong in a film based on Armstrong’s official biography. Guaranteed to be an exquisite spectacle at the very least.
Beautiful Boy, 10/12 (Amazon Studios)
Based on: David Sheff, Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction and Nic Sheff, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines
This film is somewhat unusually based on a pair of memoirs, by father and son David and Nic Sheff, which taken as a pair detail the Sheff family’s struggle with Nic’s teenage addiction to methamphetamines from both sides. In Felix Van Groeningen’s adaptation, Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet play father and son, which is reason enough for me to give it a shot, though again, reviews are lukewarm.
The Hate U Give, 10/19 (20th Century Fox)
Based on: Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give (2017)
Thomas’s debut novel was a smash hit last year, and was one of the first and best novels to spring directly from the Black Lives Matter movement. The film stars the wonderful Amandla Stenberg as 16-year-old Starr Carter, who lives in a poor black neighborhood but attends a prep school full of rich white kids, and is thus adept at code-switching—until she sees a childhood friend gunned down by a white police officer and is thrust into the middle of a huge war, both internal and external.
Can You Ever Forgive Me?, 10/19 (Fox Searchlight)
Based on: Lee Israel, Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2008)
After her once-promising writing career tanked, Lee Israel turned to a promising literary scam: forging letters from famous writers and artists and selling them for hefty sums. Soon, she also began stealing real letters from archives, selling the originals and replacing them with fakes. This biopic is based on her memoir, and like everything Melissa McCarthy does (not involving puppets) will probably be great.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web, 10/19 (Sony Pictures)
Based on: David Lagercrantz, The Girl in the Spider’s Web (after the series by Stieg Larsson)
I’m not totally clear on why they keep remaking these movies with different actors—or making more of these books with different writers (I mean, I guess the obvious answer is for the money) but I am looking forward to seeing Claire Foy as Lisbeth Salander. It’s a far swing from the Queen of England, but I think she’ll be pretty great.
Galveston, 10/19 (RLJE Films)
Based on: Nic Pizzolatto, Galveston (2010)
A gritty indie thriller adapted by Nic Pizzolatto from his own debut novel. Pizzolatto, of course, is the person who brought us the first season of True Detective . . . but also the second season of True Detective. So we’ll just have to see.
Boy Erased, 11/2 (Focus Features)
Based on: Garrard Conley, Boy Erased: a Memoir
Joel Edgerton has turned Conley’s excellent memoir about growing up gay in a fundamentalist Arkansas family and his experiences with conversion therapy into a star-studded film featuring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Lucas Hedges, and Edgerton himself. I only hope that it makes it to the people who really need to see it.
Outlander, 11/4 (Starz)
Based on: Diana Gabaldon, the Outlander series (1991-present)
I mean, if you’re watching Outlander, you’re watching Outlander (and you know what Droughtlander is, and you know that it is almost over), and if you’re not watching Outlander, you’re probably not going to start with season 4 this fall. But you might take its return as a nudge to try out this hot (and by hot I mean hott) literary property.
My Brilliant Friend, 11/18 (HBO)
Based on: Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend (2011, English translation 2012)
This is the marquee literary adaptation event of the season, on big screen or small: HBO’s adaptation of Elena Ferrante’s beloved novel, the first in a quartet about two complicated, intelligent Napoli girls who grow up, over the books, to be even more complicated, intelligent women. The trailer makes it look phenomenal. Mark your calendars.
If Beale Street Could Talk, 11/30 (Annapurna Pictures)
Based on: James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk (1974)
The other marquee literary adaptation event of the season is Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of Baldwin’s Harlem-set 1974 novel, in which a corrupt and racist cop falsely accuses a young man of rape, and his fiancee must try to exonerate him before their child is born. This one also looks phenomenal and early reviews are very good. Anyway, you know the rules for a good life: more James Baldwin, more Barry Jenkins.
Mary Queen of Scots, 12/7 (Universal Pictures)
Based on: John Guy, My Heart Is My Own: The Life of Mary Queen of Scots (2004)
Um, Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Queen Elizabeth I, in a film based on a literary biography by a respected historian—say no more, I’m in.
Mary Poppins Returns, 12/19 (Walt Disney Studios)
Based on: P. L. Travers, Mary Poppins series (1934-1988)
To be fair, Mary Poppins has somewhat transcended its literary origins and become an entertainment franchise, and technically, this film is a sequel to the original 1964 film as opposed to a standalone adaptation, but you know what, I love Emily Blunt. Also: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Julie Walters, Angela Lansbury, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep and Dick Van Dyke! I’ll just have to scrape up some children so I don’t look weird in the theater.
Holmes and Watson, 12/21 (Columbia Pictures)
Based on: characters invented by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and used liberally by everyone else ever since
Oh, look, another Sherlock Holmes adaptation. Yawn—but wait, wait, it’s starring Will Ferrell as Sherlock Holmes and John C. Reilly as John Watson? It’s directed by the guy who did Tropic Thunder? What is this? What is this? Is it going to be terrible? Is it going to be hysterical? Ralph Fiennes is Professor Moriarty and Hugh Laurie is Mycroft Holmes? I don’t know! I’ll watch it.
via Literary Hub
October 7, 2018 at 03:05PM https://ift.tt/2OCg09z