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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

11 Books Coming to the Big Screen in 2016

The task of adapting a well-known and (presumably) well-loved novel into film is a difficult one, and some might say it can never be done with complete success. Nevertheless, whether you prefer the book version, the film version, or think each should stand or fall on their own merits, it can’t be denied that more and more novels have found their way to the big screen in recent years. Below are some of the more intriguing titles coming to a theatre near you in 2016:

1. The Big Short by Michael Lewis — 14 Jan 2016

Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt star in this true story about the men who predicted the 2007-2010 financial crisis. When no one believed their claims, they came up with a way to get back at the banks via their own get-rich-quick scheme, The Big Short. Interestingly, this movie is based on a non-fiction bestseller by Michael Lewis, who also wrote Moneyball and The Blind Side.

2. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín — 21 Jan 2016

Brooklyn follows the story of Ellis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), who immigrates from Ireland to New York in the 1950s in search of new opportunities. Although initially homesick, Ellis begins to build a life for herself in America when she falls for Italian boy Tony (Emory Cohen), but all of this is threatened when Ellis is called back to Ireland and the ties of home. Written by Oscar nominee Nick Hornby (An Education) and directed by John Crowley (Closed Circuit), this movie has already received some good press and looks to be a charming start to the year for fans of period drama and Irish literature.

3. The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff — 28 Jan 2016

Technically this has already been released elsewhere, but since it doesn’t arrive in New Zealand until 2016 I thought it deserved a place on this list. Directed by Tom Hooper and based on the novel by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl is a fictitious love story inspired by the lives of Danish artists Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. After being encouraged by his wife, Gerda, to sit for her painting in a dress, Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) slowly begins to realise that he is in fact a woman, and takes the name Lili Elbe. Lili becomes one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery, a transition which sparks a series of tumultuous changes for her marriage with Gerda, especially when childhood friend and art-dealer Hans Axgil shows up.

4. Carol by Patricia Highsmith — 11 Feb 2016

Based on the 1952 novella “The Price of Salt” and winner of both Best Actress and the Queer Palm award at Cannes 2015, Carol tells the story of Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara), a dreamy department-store worker who falls for married woman Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett). Carol’s marriage is failing, and after her husband uses her involvement with Therese to challenge Carol’s competence as a mother, the two women take to the road — only to find that trouble still follows them one way or another.

5. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (and Jane Austen) — 25 Feb 2016

Set to hit NZ theatres in late February, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is bound to make Austen purists shake their heads and make disparaging remarks about the literal zombie apocalypse (hint: it has to do with disrespecting classic literature in favour of staring at a screen all day). For the curious, however, and those who love zombie movies whatever their flavour, this is likely to be an interesting addition to the universe of Austen adaptations, taking Jane Austen’s well-known tale of marriage and manners and, well, adding the undead. It is, after all, a truth universally acknowledged that everything is better with zombies.

6. Bulibasha by Witi Ihimaera. — 3 Mar 2016

I confess to letting out a squeal of excitement when I found out they were making a movie of Bulibasha this year. Retitled Mahana for its film debut, this is an intense story about family pride, family secrets, and learning to break free from the past. Teenager Simeon (aka Himiona) Mahana must struggle to find his place in his rigidly regimented sheep-shearing family, going head to head with his tyrannical grandfather in a battle of wills that will reshape not only the Mahanas’ fortunes but also the rhythm of life in their rural 1950s New Zealand town. Starring Temuera Morrison and directed by Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors), this is definitely a Kiwi film to watch in the New Year.

7. Allegiant by Veronica Roth — 10 Mar 2016

The first part of the final book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy is also coming out in 2016, following the adventures of Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) as they prepare to leave the enclosed city of Chicago for the unknown world beyond. Fans of the series so far will be pleased (or not) to know that the finale has been split into two movies, à la Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, meaning that the last movie, Ascendant, will come out some time in 2017.

8. Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll — 26 May 2016

Following on from the dubiously successful, live-action Alice in Wonderland of 2010, Tim Burton revisits Wonderland in Alice Through the Looking-Glass. In this instalment, Alice must travel back in time to save the Mad Hatter from a terrible fate; the only problem is that Time is actually a person and not generally disposed to help anyone, least of all Alice. Featuring the familiar faces of Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen, Johnny Depp as the Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as Alice, this looks to be another fascinating trip down the rabbit hole of Burton’s macabre imagination.

9. The BFG by Roald Dahl — 7 Jul 2016

Where do I even start with this one?! Along with Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, this used to be one of my favourite books as a child, so I’m excited to see what Steven Spielberg will do with it in this upcoming adaptation. Orphan Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) and her unexpected friend the BFG (the Big Friendly Giant, played by Mark Rylance) must set out to capture the evil, man-eating giants who have invaded the human world, with the help of the Queen of England (Penelope Wilton). Granted, Spielberg can be a bit hit-and-miss sometimes (and possibly a bit more miss than hit, these days), but with any luck this will be as enjoyable as the novel was, or at least a worthy interpretation of it.

10. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins — 7 Oct 2016

Rachel, a lonely alcoholic whose husband recently left her for another woman, likes to make up stories about the people she sees while on the train. While commuting to London, her attention is caught by the seemingly “perfect” couple, Scott and Megan, but the more she watches them both the more she realises that nothing is as it seems. Based on Paula Hawkins’ best-selling psychological thriller, The Girl on the Train has been compared with Gone Girl, and is sure to be a treat for murder mystery fans.

11. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J. K. Rowling — 17 Nov 2016

Set 70 years before Harry buys his textbook in Diagon Alley, this unique Harry Potter spin-off follows the story of writer and magical zoologist Newt Scamander (played by Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne), who accidentally releases a suitcase full of fantastic creatures into downtown New York. Written by J. K. Rowling and based on the book of the same name, the film is to be directed by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), and is likely to prove a welcome return to the Harry Potter universe for fans still waiting patiently for their letter from Hogwarts.

Sarah Reese


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