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    The 24 Best Movies Based On Books You Can Watch On HBO Max

    Put down that book for a few hours, pop a big bowl of popcorn, and watch one of these film adaptations.

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    October is National Book Month, and to celebrate, we've rounded up the best movies on HBO Max based on novels, memoirs, and children's books.

    TriStar Pictures

    Whether you love to read the book then watch the movie or just are looking for a great film with a literary inspiration, you'll find something that'll entertain you in this list filled with thrillers, fantasy films, and period pieces.

    1. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

    matt damon reads a book on a boat in "The Talented Mr. Ripley"
    Mirage Enterprises

    Lies! Deceit! Murder! Jude Law in resort wear! You'll get immediately sucked in by the lavish landscapes and beautiful people in swimsuits in this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's psychological-thriller novel. With an all-star cast featuring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Philip Seymour Hoffman and the aforementioned Jude Law (sporting a beautiful sun-kissed tan I might add), this tale of obsession and trickery will leave you on the edge of your seat. Oh, and all the breathtaking shots of the Italian seaside don't hurt either.

    2. Just Mercy (2019)

    michael b jordan and jamie foxx sitting in court in "just mercy"
    Participant Media

    Based on the defense lawyer Bryan Stevenson's memoir, this timely film portrays the true story of Walter McMillian, a black man who was wrongfully convicted of murdering a white woman in Alabama in the '80s. Michael B. Jordan gives a powerful performance as Bryan, who is determined to help overturn McMillian's sentencing, while Jamie Foxx's more understated portrayal of McMillian packs just as strong of a punch as he evolves from a defeated man on death row to someone hopeful that this racist act of injustice can be rectified.

    3. Lord of the Rings (2001-2003)

    elijah wood crying in "lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring"
    New Line Cinema

    Oh you know, just those small, little-known books you may have read? But seriously, if you're not in the mood to read all 1,191 pages of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, all three of the Peter Jackson-directed films are there for you whenever you need to escape to Middle-earth. For me, it's the perfect rainy day binge watch.

    4. Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

    josh hutcherson and annasophia robb climb in a tree in "bridge to terabithia"
    Walt Disney Pictures

    Raise your hand if you're still emotionally traumatized from reading this Katherine Paterson book in grade school! While I will never get over the fact that my fourth-grade teacher thought this would be a "fun" book for us to read, I do enjoy revisiting the story of two kids who create a fictional world they call Terabithia to escape their normal, boring lives. This film, with Josh Hutcherson and AnnaSophia Robb in their early baby-faced days, leans heavily on the fantastical elements present in the book through impressive visual effects while also staying true to the beloved children's novel.

    5. Friday Night Lights (2004)

    billy bob thornton playing a coach in "friday night lights"
    Universal Pictures

    You know and love the heartwarming series about a high school football team in a small Texas town, but did you the series was based on a movie, which was based on a book? This film tells the true story of the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team as they fight to reach the state championship. Journalist H. G. Bissinger actually moved his family to Odessa in 1988 to follow the team's journey, and he discovered a unique culture of a small Texas town obsessed with their high school football team. The film adaptation of Bissinger's book really highlights the fervor all the residents of Odessa feel for their team as well as showcasing the pressure the teenaged players face from their neighbors and their own future that's riding on their athletic performance.

    6. How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

    angela bassett and taye diggs dance in "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"
    20th Century Fox

    In this adaptation of Terry McMillan's 1996 romance novel, Angela Bassett is Stella, a successful 40-year-old stockbroker in need of a break. After persuasion from her best friend Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg), she decides to take a vacation to Jamaica, where she meets the handsome, charming Winston Shakespeare (Taye Diggs). Only problem? He's half her age. She has to reconcile her budding romance with her real responsibilities as a mother and a businesswoman back home. But girl, you've got Taye Diggs, on the beach, shirtless. Just stay a while! Have another piña colada!

    7. Boy Erased (2018)

    russell crowe hugs lucas hedges as nicole kidman looks on proudly in "boy erased"
    Focus Features

    Garrard Conley's 2016 memoir exposed the horrors of his time in conversion therapy that his ultra-religious and conservative Southern family forced him to enroll in. Brought to the screen by Joel Edgerton, the 2018 film delivers impactful performances from Lucas Hedges and Russell Crowe, but it's Nicole Kidman's portrayal of a mother torn between her Baptist values and her love of her son that really does it for me. I don't know, there's just something about Nicole Kidman giving people a piece of her mind that she does so. freaking. well.

    8. Dangerous Liaisons (1988)

    a group of people in period clothing in "dangerous liaisons"
    Warner Bros.

    Sometimes, all you need after a long week is to lose yourself in a period drama with lots of fancy gowns and powdered wigs, and Dangerous Liaisons, based on the 1782 French novel of the same name, delivers. Portraying the lavish excess of French aristocracy right before the French revolution, this film will delight you as you watch Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfeiffer behaving badly and looking fabulous while doing it.

    9. Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

    little boy in crown being chased after by a friendly monster in "where the wild things are"
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    I love when filmmakers can take a short picture book and turn it into a feature length film, and Spike Jonze's film adaptation of the beloved Maurice Sendak children's book does that beautifully, creating a dynamic, emotional, and visually breathtaking movie from a 338-word story. I remember being so entranced by Sendak's illustrations of the "Wild Things" as a kid, and seeing the gentle giants brought to life on screen was such a delight. This is the perfect choice for family movie night, or if you're an adult who's forgotten the importance of imagination.

    10. The Descendants (2011)

    george clooney on a beach in "the descendants"
    Fox Searchlight Pictures

    Just because you live in paradise doesn't mean your life is actually perfect is the message this Alexander Payne film really drives home. Based on the 2007 novel from Hawaii native Kaui Hart Hemmings, the film stars George Clooney as Matt, a man living in Honolulu struggling to raise his two young girls after their mother slips into a coma after an accident. Also featuring a standout performance by Shailene Woodley, The Descendants snagged an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and with the juicy character dynamics and whip-fast dialogue, it's not hard to see why.

    11. Ella Enchanted (2004)

    hugh dancy and anne hathaway look at each other in "ella enchanted"
    Miramax Films

    In between The Princess Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada, Anne Hathaway was Ella, a girl from a fairytale world who was given the "gift" of obedience at birth, meaning she's compelled to follow any command given to her. Although this is a very loose adaptation of the Gail Carson Levine's children novel, you'll still get a kick out of how this film pokes fun of classic fairytale tropes. And watching the last scene in which everyone breaks out in song and dances to "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" is like injecting joy straight into your veins.

    12. The Color Purple (1985)

    whoopi goldberg looks over danny glover in "the color purple"
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    It's hard to believe this was Whoopi Goldberg's second film role EVER as you watch her deliver an emotionally raw performance as Celie in this Steven Spielberg adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Between her abusive father and husband, and being separated from her sister and children, Celie has had a hard life, and you'll root for her the whole way through. I still get chills thinking about the scene where she finally tells her dirtbag husband off. This is also the film debut of Oprah Winfrey as Sofia, a role that earned her her first Academy Award nomination.

    13. Jojo Rabbit (2019)

    a group of hitler youth in the woods in "jojo rabbit"
    Fox Searchlight Pictures

    Inspired by the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, this Taika Waititi Oscar-winning film tells the story of Johannes, a member of the Hitler Youth in the 1940s who discovers that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their attic. Taking a departure from the source material, Waititi plays Johannes's imaginary friend, an over-the-top, imagined version of Adolf Hitler. Waititi didn't do any research to "accurately" portray Hitler since this film is a satire, and instead he just made "him a version of (himself) that happened to have a bad haircut and a shitty little mustache." Also, a PSA: I was told this movie was a comedy, and while it is very funny for the majority of it, please bring tissues. Trust me.

    14. The Art of Racing in the Rain (2019)

    golden retriever in the passenger's seat of a red car
    20th Century Fox

    I read the Garth Stein novel The Art of Racing in the Rain about five years ago, and I will never forget getting to the end of this book, sitting in my bed surrounded by tissues, and staring into the middle distance for at least an hour digesting the beautiful story I just read. The story is told through the perspective of Enzo, a dog who is convinced that in his next life, he's going to be a human, so he spends his life observing his family and how they react to their hardships. When the film adaptation came out last year, it didn't make that big of a splash, but I thought it was a faithful and heartfelt adaptation of a book that I recommend to every dog lover. I mean, how can your heart not melt at the sight of Milo Ventimiglia cuddling with a golden retriever for goodness sake!!!

    15. The English Patient (1996)

    ralph fiennes reads a book and looks up in "the english patient"
    Miramax Films

    A Best Picture Oscar winner, The English Patient, based on Michael Ondaatje's 1992 novel, is a sweeping World War II epic told through a series of flashbacks as a severely burnt patient with an English accent tells his nurse stories about his life. The patient can't remember his name, but he can remember how much he loves Katharine, a woman he met before the war. It's rare for a Best Picture winner to be as romantic as this one, and you'll get swept away with the love affair in the middle of the desert of it all.

    16. The Outsiders (1983)

    patrick swayze confronting a "social" in "the outsiders"
    Warner Bros.

    I read S.E. Hinton's book The Outsiders in seventh grade and was shocked that my conservative Texas teacher let us read it. Gang violence? Teen drinking? Accidental MURDER?! It quickly became one of my favorite books, and I still love revisiting the pages today. The film is just as captivating, and the best part is seeing A-list actors as fresh-faced teenagers. Seriously, this cast is stacked: Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, Ralph Macchio.....it's basically a Who's Who guide of '80s and '90s stars.

    17. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

    a young german boy plays checkers with a young jewish boy at the edge of a concentration camp in "The boy in the striped pajamas"
    Miramax Films

    Okay, I know I said to bring tissues to your viewing of Jojo Rabbit, but seriously, bring two packs of tissues when you watch The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Based on John Boyne's 2006 novel, this Mark Herman film portrays an unlikely friendship between the son of a Nazi commandant and a Jewish child inmate in a concentration camp. There are many films that show the horror and atrocities of World War II, but this unique perspective from two innocent eight-year-old boys who just want to be friends will stay with you long after the credits roll.

    18. Revolutionary Road (2008)

    leo dicaprio and kate winslet in "revolutionary road"
    DreamWorks Pictures

    Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite for the first time since Titanic, and somehow, things are even more tragic for their characters this time around. No, they aren't in freezing water after an iceberg hit a ship they're on; they're a suburban couple in the '50s who seem perfect to their neighbors but in reality have a crumbling relationship full of fights, lies, and cheating. While their characters are doomed, DiCaprio and Winslet are at their acting pinnacle as they throw verbal daggers at each other, and while the film is thoroughly depressing, their talent is evident in every scene.

    19. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2007)

    Mathieu Amalric in a wheelchair talking to a woman in purple in "the diving bell and the butterfly"
    Miramax Films

    This is one of those films that when you find out it's based on a true story, you will be absolutely gobsmacked. Jean-Dominique Bauby was a journalist who suffered a massive stroke, and he was left completely paralyzed except for his left eye. He was able to write a memoir by blinking his left eye to spell out words with the help of a transcriber. His extraordinary story is brought to screen by director Julian Schnabel and you'll be inspired by a man who fought to tell his story despite being trapped in his own body.

    20. The Cider House Rules (1999)

    tobey maguire sitting at a desk in "the cider house rules"
    Miramax Films

    This adaptation of the coming-of-age John Irving novel stars Tobey Maguire as Homer Wells, a boy who grows up in a Maine orphanage and becomes the apprentice of the resident doctor, a kind man with a dark secret. The story follows Homer as he eventually grows up and leaves the orphanage to forge his own path in life. It also features standout performances from Charlize Theron and Michael Caine, who won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Dr. Larch.

    21. The Maltese Falcon (1941)

    humphrey bogart and his secretary in his office in "the maltese falcon"
    Warner Bros.

    Film noir at its best, The Maltese Falcon stars Humphrey Bogart at his prime as a private investigator who is searching for a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette. He's hired by a mysterious and beautiful client played by Mary Astor, who portrays the femme fatale character to a tee. Based on the 1930 detective novel, this film is required viewing for anyone interested in catching up on old Hollywood classics that still grip viewers nearly 80 years later.

    22. Doctor Sleep (2020)

    ewan mcgregor with a big beard in "doctor sleep"
    Warner Bros. Pictures

    Based on Stephen King's sequel to The Shining, this recently released horror film starring Ewan McGregor follows Danny (the young boy in The Shining) as an adult who is haunted by the trauma he faced as a child. He's also developed psychic abilities and turns to alcohol to numb it all. But when he meets a teenager who shares those psychic abilities, he's determined to protect her from a cult who feed off the powers of people like them. While it isn't as iconic and memorable as The Shining, it is a perfect spooky movie to get you in the Halloween spirit.

    23. A Room With a View (1986)

    Helena Bonham Carter looks bored while standing under an umbrella in "a room with a view"
    Merchant Ivory Productions

    I didn't even recognize the extremely young Helena Bonham Carter in this film at first! I'm used to seeing her in quirky, spooky roles with crazy frizzy hair, so this old-timey clothing threw me for a loop. In this Oscar-winning film, Lucy, a young woman utterly bored by her stuffy aristocratic English life, starts to fall in love with a free-spirited man while on a trip to Florence. Based on the E.M. Forster novel, this film also features great performances from Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Daniel Day-Lewis.

    24. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

    dorothy, the tin man, and the scarecrow talk to each other in "the wizard of oz"
    MGM

    You know and love this movie, but when's the last time you revisited Dorothy and her friends as they wander through Oz? We dare you to turn this one and not belt along with Judy Garland as she sings "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." It's also fun to imagine yourself as a kid in 1939, headed to the theater to see your favorite children's fantasy novel on screen and be blown away by all the vibrant color.

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