Films adapted from some of our favorite books will hit theaters this year. We’ve listed some of the most notable titles along with our predictions for how readers will fare at the movies in 2014.
Release Date: March 21
The Premise: Veronica Roth’s Divergent is yet another novel riding the young adult dystopian phenomenon. Teenaged Tris lives in a society split into factions based on personality traits. She finds herself unable to fit into any one faction, however, and she’s ultimately seen as a political threat because of her “divergence.”
The Outlook: This YA adaptation stars the soon-to-be-ubiquitous Shailene Woodley. She made quite a splash in last year’s The Spectacular Now, and this film finds her sharing the screen with Kate Winslet. While it’s sure to be a hit among the teen crowd, Divergent will probably need a script as stellar as its actors to win over broader audiences.
The Fault in Our Stars
Release Date: June 6
The Premise: While author John Green has always maintained superstar status among young adult writers, it was The Fault in Our Stars that garnered him tons of sales and critical acclaim. The novel follows two cancer-ridden teenagers on their quest to meet a reclusive author. Spawning thousands of tears and Tumblr quotes, the book is far better than its maudlin description might suggest.
The Outlook: Green himself has been blogging praise for the film adaptation of his book from the movie’s set. He appears particularly impressed by the script and the cast, including Shailene Woodley. But TFIOS is known for celebrating the transformative power of books, so it’s hard to predict whether or not that passion will come across as overly-sentimental on the big screen.
Release Date: August 15
The Premise: One of the most beloved dystopian novels of all time, this Lois Lowry classic explores a society devoid of pain, suffering and emotion. The book survived for over 20 years without a film treatment—maybe there’s a good reason for that.
The Outlook: The decision to adapt The Giver for film is almost as controversial as the novel itself, and it’s especially difficult to envision how the literal black and white world of the novel will appear on screen. Oscar heavyweights Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges signed on to the project, which bodes well. But, then again, so did Taylor Swift (leaving us more than a tad apprehensive).
This is Where I Leave You
Release Date: September 12
The Premise: Jonathan Tropper’s novel centers on a dysfunctional family attempting to fulfill their dead father’s last wish, which entails all four siblings spending a week together under the same roof for the first time in a decade.
The Outlook: The film stars Jason Bateman, the man who revived his career by attempting to keep a dysfunctional family together (Really, is anyone more qualified for the task than Michael Bluth?). Comedic heavyweights Tina Fey and Adam Driver also co-star. Consider ourselves intrigued.
Release Date: October 3
The Premise: Gillian Flynn’s runaway bestseller Gone Girl sucked readers in with one of the darkest portrayals of marital dysfunction in recent literature. When Amy goes missing on the night of her fifth wedding anniversary, her husband Nick is an immediate suspect.The book’s myriad of twists and turns range from mildly predictable to wildly out there.
The Outlook: With David Fincher directing, we believe the film adaptation of this sudsy tale could even elevate its source material. Plus, Ben Affleck has the perfect combination of affability and leeriness to play the doting yet manipulative Nick. The last third of film is rumored to deviate from the book, so who knows what new twists are in store.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
Release Date: October 10
The Premise: Judith Viorst’s classic children’s book follows a boy named Alexander who gets gum in his hair and proceeds to have the worst day ever experienced in kid lit.
The Outlook: For every amazing children’s book adaptation to hit the big screen (Where the Wild Things Are, anyone?) there are a dozen duds à la The Cat in the Hat. Alexander will probably lie somewhere in the middle. Expect humor and family friendly fare from Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner. Hopefully, the audience will catch more of a break than the protagonist.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Release Date: November 21
The Premise: Revolution finally erupts in Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, as the districts unite behind Katniss Everdeen in an attempt to overthrow the ruthless capitol.
The Outlook: Considering Catching Fire improved upon the original film in every conceivable way, the expectations for Mockingjay are pretty high. The biggest question fans of the franchise have is how the last book will be divided among two movies. Regardless of where this film will end, one thing is for sure: at this point in her career, Jennifer Lawrence can do no wrong—especially when she’s inspiring rebellion.
The Hobbit: There and Back Again
Release Date: December 17
The Premise: Though There and Back Again will chronicle the end of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit (including the infamous Battle of Five Armies), the film will also include material from Tolkien’s appendices expanding the history of Middle Earth.
The Outlook: You probably know where you stand on this one based on your opinions of the first two films. Prepare for more of Peter Jackson’s lengthy vision with the usual ensemble cast of dwarves, elves and more.
Release Date: TBD, expected mid- to late-2014
The Premise: Thomas Pynchon’s psychedelic thriller finds private eye Doc Sportello investigating a plot to kidnap a billionaire (who just happens to be dating Doc’s ex-girlfriend).
The Outlook: Expectations are very high, as this is the first Pynchon novel to be adapted for the big screen. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and starring Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice should be an amazing genre hybrid.
Release Date: TBD, expected mid- to late-2014
The Premise: Cheryl Strayed’s memoir about her 1,100 mile solo trek on the Pacific Coast trail was an Oprah-approved tale of self-discovery inspiring thousands of readers.
The Outlook: Strayed herself expressed excitement at seeing Reese Witherspoon in the titular role during filming in Oregon. Another talented writer, Nick Hornby, helped adapt the screenplay, so this movie could have potential.