Hayley breaks down the movies and TV series based on books due to hit screens in the coming months.
Okay, whose idea was it to cast the two of the biggest young Irish actors working today in the same movie, but make them both do American accents? Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal are combining their star power for Foe, the second adaptation of author Iain Reid’s work after Netflix’s take on the supremely weird I’m Thinking of Ending Things in 2020. With a plot that unfortunately got a little scooped by the latest season of Black Mirror (but only a little—the book did, of course, come first), the film centres around Hen and Junior, a married couple working on a farm whose lives are upended when a stranger arrives with an unusual proposal to send Junior to space, and leave Hen in the company of an android. Personally, I would watch Saoirse Ronan watch paint dry, so I’m all in for this one.
Lessons in Chemistry
The popularity of Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons in Chemistry has been immense (as of publishing this, the regular print and eBook versions of the novel both still have over 100 holds each); I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re getting an adaptation so swiftly. In fact, Garmus’s debut novel, which she got published at age 64, was picked up by Apple TV+ for a series adaptation more than a year before the book was even released—now that's impressive. Starring Brie Larson in the lead role, the series centres on Elizabeth Zott, a brilliant chemist fighting for recognition amongst her all-male team in the early 1960s. Years later, she finds herself a single mother hosting a cooking show, teaching her female audience important lessons through her unorthodox methods.
Killers of the Flower Moon
A decade after The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are teaming up for their fifth feature collaboration, with Scorsese's other frequent collaborator Robert DeNiro joining the mix to mark the first time all three have worked on a big-screen flick together. David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon, a non-fiction book about the murders of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma after oil was discovered on their land, was optioned for adaptation in 2016, but delayed by several years due to the pandemic. Finally hitting screens as one of the most anticipated films of the year, it’s set to be a three-and-a-half-hour long epic with a 200 million dollar budget, and has already impressed audiences with its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival back in May—it’s never too early for Oscar buzz.
All the Light We Cannot See
Another bestselling juggernaut is hitting the screen, with Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See earning a Netflix adaptation as a four-part mini-series. The book has seen a world of success since its release in 2014, with over 15 million copies sold and a Pulitzer Prize to its name—so no pressure or anything. While the series has a few familiar faces with Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie both in supporting roles, the lead character of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a blind teenage girl in war-torn France, was filled by newcomer Aria Mia Loberti (she herself is legally blind) after a global search for the role drew thousands of auditions. The story follows Marie-Laure during the second World War as her path crosses with Werner Pfennig, a young German boy forced to fight for the Nazi regime.
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
The Hunger Games is back, and it’s making me feel old. It’s been over a decade (excuse me?) since the adaptation of the first in Suzanne Collins’s smash series hit theatres, and with the franchise making a ton of money, the spin-off was never going to be far behind. Released in 2020, the prequel takes place 64 years before the events of the first novel, following the future President of Panem, Coriolanus Snow, as he prepares to mentor Lucy Gray Baird, tribute for District 12, in the 10th annual Hunger Games. Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler star as the pair of leads, with Francis Lawrence, director of all the previous films bar the first, returning to the helm. One of the few blockbusters to remain steadfast in its release date amid the current Hollywood strikes, the film is bringing some much-needed excitement to the rest of the year's in-theatre line-up.
Leave the World Behind
Leave the World Behind, an adaptation of Rumaan Alam’s 2020 novel, is one of two 2023 feature films to be backed by Higher Ground, the production company founded by Barack and Michelle Obama. The novel sparked a bidding war for the adaptation rights following its publication, with Netflix ultimately securing the film for their slate. Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail is directing the flick, about a family whose Long Island vacation is interrupted when the owners of the home they’re staying in return unexpectedly in the night with news that the city is under blackout. Julia Roberts and Ethan Hawke are set to star alongside Myha’la Herrold and Mahershala Ali (replacing the originally cast Denzel Washington for a character described in the book as looking like Denzel Washington—how meta) in this suspenseful drama.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
I’ve been questioning for yonks why Hollywood isn’t cashing in on the sudden interest in Greek mythology in the fiction world; this isn’t quite what I was expecting (nay, begging for; please someone just give me a faithful duology of Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey), but I’ll take it. Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, following a teenage boy who discovers he’s the son of Poseidon, was around long before Madeline Miller and Jennifer Saint were retelling the stories of ancient Greek figures, and has already been adapted once, back in 2010. Reviews were pretty mixed, with most deeming it lacklustre Harry Potter knock-off. Disney, obtaining the adaptation rights with its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, is determined to get it right this time, and Riordan himself is spearheading the series after being disappointed by the original film and its sequel.
I probably shouldn’t include this since we don’t actually have the book that it’s based on in our catalogue, but I’m not gonna not talk about the new David Fincher. After straying from his typical style with the 2020 black-and-white Hollywood biopic Mank, the director is returning to form—yellow-and-blue noir-thrillers—with The Killer, based on the little-known graphic novel by French writer Matz. The film, which had its debut at the recent Venice Film Festival, follows a contract killer who ignites a manhunt after a fateful near-miss on the job, and stars Michael Fassbender in the lead role. As someone who petulantly ignored the existence of Mank because it was not the Gone Girl follow-up I waited six years for (no, I haven’t watched Mindhunter, and yes, I know I should), this one has me practically frothing at the mouth.