Not all movies are made from original scripts or comic books. Some are adaptations of good ol’ fashioned novels. Here are four of those with a treatise on baseball economics thrown in for good measure.
1. Water for Elephants
Release Date: April 22
Author: Sara Gruen
Director: Francis Lawrence
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz
The book: An engaging New York Times bestseller about a veterinary student who runs off to join the circus when his parents die and falls in love with the star of the show. Gruen is a gifted writer, and the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth came alive on her pages.
The movie: It stars the guy from Twilight and is directed by the guy who did music videos for Britney Spears and Will Smith: Melodrama alert. On the upside, Christoph Waltz!
2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
Release Date: July 15
Author: J.K. Rowlings
Director: David Yates
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
The book: Rowlings didn’t disappoint most fans and critics with her final chapter in the Potter series. So epic it needed two movies.
The movie: Only The Lord of the Rings trilogy has had as many fans quoting chapter and verse changes to the screenplay, but there’s been little for them to complain about, and that was true for Part 1 of this finale. Sure, there was some rearranging and compressing of scenes and facts, but the two-and-a-half hour runtime for half a book allowed Yates the space to faithfully retell a really good story. There’s no reason to expect any different with Part 2. The trailer is coming Jan. 24.
3. The Help
Release Date: Aug. 12
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Director: Tate Taylor
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer
The book: The only book on the list I haven’t read, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about this story of unlikely friendships in a segregated Southern town.
The movie: Taylor is better known as an actor (Winter’s Bone) than as a director (his one film was Pretty Ugly People) but Emma Stone is on a roll with Easy A and Zombieland.
Release Date: Sept. 23
Author: Michael M. Lewis
Director: Bennett Miller
Stars: Brad Pitt, Robin Wright, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman
The book: A non-fiction account about how statistical analysis has changed baseball—and a lot more fun than that sounds. As much about stat-master Bill James and the Red Sox as Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s, this 2003 book changed the way I and many others see baseball.
The movie: This was an interesting choice for director Bennett Miller to follow the Oscar-winning Capote, casting Brad Pitt as Billy Beane and focusing on the A’s. He partners again with Philip Seymour Hoffman as Art Howe.
5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Release Date: Dec. 21
Author: Stieg Larsson
Director: David Fincher
Stars: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Stellan Skarsgård
The book: Larsson died before he could see what an international success his trilogy would become. But this mystery series where the heroes are a financial journalist and an anti-social computer hacker is impossible to put down.
The movie: After the Swedish film version failed to make much of a splash in the States, Fincher will give it an American reboot. This is one case where I think the U.S. remake can and should outshine the original.