Whether you want to get ahead of the game and gloat that you have indeed read the book first, or just want a few guaranteed hits to add to your watchlist – here are the most exciting novels that will be making their way to the big screen in the upcoming year.
Turning popular novels into films has been a long-standing practice in Hollywood, and recent hits like Dune and Bridgerton show that it shows no signs of stopping. According to Forbes, film adaptations of literary material earn a whopping 53% of box office earnings! No wonder producers are so keen to secure the rights. But adapting beloved texts into movies is always a polarising task. Maybe the screenplay deviates too much from its source material, or maybe there’s an outcry at the casting choices. Ultimately, you can’t please everyone. But this doesn’t stop filmmakers from trying.
With a recent boom in mini-series adaptations and authors adapting their own works, the quantity and quality of material we’re getting seems to be at an all-time high. So, whether you want to get ahead of the game and gloat that you have indeed read the book first, or just want a few guaranteed hits to add to your watchlist – here are the most exciting novels that will be making their way to the big screen in the upcoming year.
I’m sure by now everyone has seen those pictures of Harry Styles dressed as a policeman. The singer is starting to make big moves in the film industry, and his involvement in the project has generated a lot of buzz. Roberts’ novel is being adapted by Amazon Studios and tells the story of Tom (Harry Styles) and Marion (Emma Corrin), a married couple living on the Brighton Coast. Things get complicated when Tom falls in love with museum curator Patrick (David Dawson) during a time when homosexuality is illegal. Its heart-wrenching source material and stellar cast make My Policeman a highly anticipated watch.
After proving her credentials in Normal People, Daisy Edgar-Jones is giving it a go in another adaptation of a wildly popular book. Owens’ eerie mystery spent 124 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. You couldn’t leave the house without spotting someone with Crawdads in tow. Reese Witherspoon is producing the film, and her involvement in previous adaptations such as Gone Girl, Wild and Little Fires Everywhere makes this project all the more enticing. But its captivating premise is what’s really worth the hype. It follows a young girl, Kya, who is forced to raise herself in the marshes of North Carolina as each member of her family abandons her.
Sally Rooney is unstoppable, and adaptations of her acclaimed novels are inevitably going to be successful. Her debut novel is getting the TV treatment, with the BBC at the helm after their adaptation of Rooney’s Normal People dominated our screens during the pandemic. The darkly observant narrator Frances (Alison Oliver) and her ex-girlfriend Bobbi (Sasha Lane) perform spoken word poetry together in Dublin. Frances becomes beguiled by married couple Melissa (Jemima Kirke) and Nick (Joe Alwyn) and finds herself entangled in their relationship. Rooney is a master of creating realistic dialogue and deeply flawed characters who transfix the reader and are destined to make great TV.
Lady in the Lake is a future Apple TV production set to star Academy Award winners Lupita Nyong’o and Natalie Portman. Set in 1960s Baltimore, Lippman’s mystery novel follows former housewife turned want-to-be journalist Maddie, who is determined to make a name for herself. She believes that the story of Cleo Sherwood, a missing girl whose body was discovered in the park, is her ticket to do so. Cleo went missing 8 months prior, but neither the police nor the public paid much attention to a missing black woman. Maddie is determined to find out the truth about Cleo’s life, but it’s not going to be easy.
Daisy Jones & the Six serves as the follow-up for Jenkins Reid’s acclaimed novel The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (also desperately in need of an adaptation ASAP). It follows the eponymous band’s rise to fame during the gritty 1970s rock scene, revealing the mystery behind their notorious break-up. It’s loosely based on Fleetwood Mac, whose Rumours era was entangled with relationship drama. The novel is comprised entirely of dialogue, so already has a cinematic quality. And it’s going to be another project produced by Reese Witherspoon (who clearly has impeccable taste in books). Whether you’re reading or watching, you’ll certainly be searching Daisy Jones and the Six on Spotify, only to be heartbroken when you remember they’re not actually real.
Channel 4 has greenlit the adaptation for 2019 Book of the Year and bestseller Queenie. The screenplay will be tackled by author Carty-Williams and will be comprised of eight half an hour episodes. The titular character is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman who has recently broken up from her long-term boyfriend, leading to a downward spiral of mistreatment by the men she seeks comfort from. Queenie’s bad decisions and subsequent turmoil in relationships are all-too-relatable, and you will root for her through every step of her self-discovery.
Real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning haven’t appeared in a film together since 2001, but they are finally giving us what we all want by playing on-screen sisters in The Nightingale. The film has repeatedly been pushed back due to Covid, but currently has a release date of December 2022, so that gives you plenty of time to read Hannah’s novel. The book was inspired by Andrée de Jongh, who helped downed allied pilots escape Nazi territory. It tells the story of two sisters during World War II as they struggle to survive the German occupation of France.
Author Emma Donoghue turned her novel Room into a harrowing screenplay and award season darling back in 2015 and is set to do the same with The Wonder. But the novel is a far departure from Room, telling the tale of a young girl who stops eating but mysteriously doesn’t die. Set in the Irish Midlands in 1859, The Wonder is an atmospheric and thought-provoking novel that promises to be an equally spell-binding movie. Florence Pugh will be bringing her famous frown to the film, with Disobedience and A Fantastic Woman director Sebastián Lelio also on board.
The remarkable biography of Noor Inayat Khan details how she became the first female operator sent into occupied France in 1943. Captured by the Germans, Noor refused to reveal any information under intensive interrogation, even withholding her real name. Her inspiring story will be brought to the screen in limited series form and will star Slumdog Millionaire actress Freida Pinto.
Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal will play a married couple in the Amazon Studios adaptation of Reid’s novel. I’m sold already. It’s set in the near future, where the couple lives on a remote farm. But when a stranger arrives with alarming news, their life is sent into upheaval. Junior (Mescal) has been selected to travel far away from the farm, whilst Henrietta (Ronan) is left in familiar and disconcerting company. If you’re into psychological thrillers this is definitely one for you!
Americanah is the story of a young Nigerian woman, Ifemelu, who moves to the United States for university. Her childhood sweetheart, Obinze, was supposed to join her but is instead forced to live an undocumented life in London. The novel examines race and racism across three continents, and Ifemelu is forced to adapt to racial politics in the US. It was announced all the way back in 2014 that Adichie’s novel would be adapted into a series, set to star Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo, with Danai Gurira as writer and showrunner. Sadly, the project is no longer moving forward due to scheduling conflicts. But this has been a long-term passion project for Nyong’o, so there’s still hope that it will get the green light at some point in the future.