A lot of great things happened in 2018, especially in the world of popular culture. There was the Winter Olympics, a royal wedding, Rihanna hosting the Met Gala, and Mean Girls the musical, just to name a few. But perhaps the best part was that the most anticipated movies of 2018 also happened to be adaptations of our favorite books.
If you're an avid reader and cinephile, you know all too well how satisfying it is to devour a good book and then watch the onscreen version later. Not only does it soften the blow of finishing a beloved novel, but it's also just fun to compare the two stories. Even if you believe the book is always better than the movie version, there's still something about seeing the narrative and characters you've imagined in your head coming to life that makes it especially exciting to watch.
The Hate U Give
The Book: Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this resonant book is a must-read. It follows a teenage girl from a poor neighborhood who attends a fancy prep school as she tries to find a balance between the two worlds until police fatally shoot her unarmed best friend.
The Movie: The talented cast includes Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, Regina Hall, Common, and Amandla Stenberg.
The Book: This collection of essays written during the Romantic period is dark, evocative, and mood-driven. Pay particular attention to the essay entitled "Levana and Our Ladies of Sorrow," which is about the goddess of childbirth and her three fictional companions, Our Lady of Sighs, Our Lady of Darkness, and Our Lady of Tears.
The Movie: Dario Argento's 1977 film Suspiria was reimagined by Luca Guadagnino, the director who brought us Call Me by Your Name and A Bigger Splash. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Dakota Johnson, and Tilda Swinton, this gothic tale follows a young ballerina attending an elite dance academy in a German castle.
The Book: Garrard Conley's memoir is about his journey as a Baptist pastor's son in Arkansas. He wrestles with his sexuality and eventually must decide between losing everything he has or going through "conversion therapy." Though disturbing and sad at times, it tells an important story and is ultimately triumphant.
The Movie: Some of the cast members include Nicole Kidman, Lucas Hedges, Joel Edgerton, and Russell Crowe.
The Book: The Red Sparrow trilogy is about a captain in the Russian Intelligence Service who also happens to be working for the CIA. Full of sexual espionage, treason, and moral dilemmas taking place in modern-day Russia, this spy thriller is both gripping and timely.
The Movie: The hero of the series is portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, who is joined by Mary-Louise Parker and Joel Edgerton.
The Book: What if we heard Shakespeare's Hamlet from the perspective of a woman? What if that woman were Ophelia? Lisa Klein gives us just that, but in her reimagining of the tragedy, Ophelia might not choose Hamlet over her life.
The Movie: Though Kate Winslet's performance as Ophelia in the 1996 adaptation of Hamlet will always have our hearts, now so does Daisy Ridley's.
On Chesil Beach
The Book: This novella is about a young married couple, Florence and Edward, as they get caught up in their own thoughts about sex on their wedding night. Both of them are deeply anxious about losing their virginities, but we learn a lot about gender, sexuality, conformity, and fantasy through their various thought processes.
The Movie: Here's another strong leading role for Saoirse Ronan. It's a period piece set in midcentury England, so if you loved Atonement, another adaptation of a McEwan novel, you'll probably enjoy this film as well.
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Book: James Baldwin's renowned novel is a love story, an exploration of identity, and a biting social critique. Our protagonist, Tish, falls in love with her child's father, who is then falsely accused of a terrible crime.
The Movie: As with all of his work, Baldwin's characters jump off the page and draw you in so completely that you'll never be able to forget this story of passion, injustice, and heartbreak. In this film, Stephan James, Regina King, Dave Franco, and Teyonah Parris portray his characters.
You Were Never Really Here
The Book: A reclusive former marine and FBI agent rescues young women sold into sex trafficking. When he sets out on a mission to find the daughter of a high-profile but corrupt New Yorker, his life gets even more dangerous. It's a story about corruption and redemption.
The Movie: This Lynne Ramsay project starring Joaquin Pheonix won critical acclaim at Cannes. If you aren't familiar with her work, she's the endlessly talented genius behind We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Mary Queen of Scots
The Book: This biography takes a deep dive into the life of Mary Queen of Scots, formerly Mary Stuart, portraying her as the intellectual and powerful diplomat that she was, rather than the romantic woman condemned to execution for trying to overthrow Queen Elizabeth I, her cousin.
The Cast: With Margot Robbie as Elizabeth Tudor and Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart, this is the period piece of all period pieces.
A Wrinkle in Time
The Book: It's time to crack open your middle school copy of A Wrinkle in Time. To refresh your memory, it's about a young girl and her little brother who set out to find their missing father along with a classmate. Their father disappeared while helping the government research the "tesseract problem," which is basically a wormhole in space and time travel. This fantasy is as beautiful as it is strange.
The Movie: A star-studded cast of Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, and Mindy Kaling brings our childhood-favorite book to life.
Crazy Rich Asians
The Book: A man from Singapore brings his Chinese-American girlfriend home with him to attend a high-profile wedding, which is when she discovers just how crazy rich he is and what that entails. We meet a cast of hilarious characters from the upper echelons of Hong Kong and Singapore society in this laugh-out-loud series about the absurdity of wealth and expectations.
The Movie: This is one of those stories that's just as fun to watch unravel on screen, with Fresh Off the Boat's Constance Wu starring.
The Book: Seemingly separate characters come together when an opera singer is held in a hostage situation. Aside from the plot that connects them, they're also united by the common language of music, which fills their otherwise bleak and heartbreaking stories with love and connection.
The Movie: With the likes of Julianne Moore and Christopher Lambert, this move is heartwrenching and uplifting at the same time.
The Book: This memoir is written by a father grappling with his eldest son's addiction and mental health diagnosis. Touching, heartbreaking, and unrelentingly raw, it will change the way you think about addiction, love, and support.
The Movie: When you've got Call Me by Your Name star Timothée Chalamet portraying one of the protagonists, you know it's going to be good. But when you add the reunion of The Office's Holly Flax (Amy Ryan) and Michael Scott (Steve Carell), it's almost too good to be true.
The Book: Lovers of Sci-fi are in for a treat with this trilogy about area X, a region cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. We don't know much about it other than that the first expedition reported it was a pristine reincarnation of Eden while the rest of the expeditions resulted in suicide, riots, and disease. We drop in with the 12th expedition group, four women who discover things beyond comprehension.
The Movie: Annihilation's heroes are portrayed by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Natalie Portman.
The Book: This is another page-turner by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn. Sharp Objects is about a young woman who revisits the crime that earned her big brother a life sentence in prison for killing the rest of her family. She sets out to discover what really happened.
The Movie: Technically this isn't a movie, but we're too excited about this Hulu series not to include it. If you've already read this gripping crime drama, then you'll be thrilled to know that Amy Adams is cast as Camille Preaker.