This is shaping up to be a good year for literary film adaptations. Many releases that were postponed in 2020, like the new Dune movie, have eager fans chomping at the bit. We posted an article recently about some literary adaptations we’re excited to see hit screens in 2021. Clearly, there are just too many for one article to contain! Thus, we present 14 more film adaptations to watch out for in 2021.
by Ernest Hemingway
The last novel published during Hemingway’s lifetime was also his only to top The New York Times bestseller’s list. Across The River And Into The Trees is Hemingway’s rumination on love, age, and how we choose to face death. Both John Huston and Robert Altman almost got a crack at adapting the story for the screen, but it never happened. Now, in the distant future, director Paula Ortiz is bringing the Hemingway heat. This adaptation, starring Liev Schreiber and Matilda De Angelis, is shooting in Italy and expected to come out this year.
by Deborah Kay Davies
This novel tells the story of a woman who has random sex with a stranger in a parking garage. A spontaneous fit of sexual obsession sends her on a path of untangling her reasons for doing so. This shockingly funny portrait of one woman’s humanity was picked up by BBC Films and will be released sometime this year. The film, directed by Harry Wootliff, stars Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke.
by William Lindsay Gresham
The first adaptation of this horror novel took place during the film noir era with Tyrone Power in 1947. Nightmare Alley follows a manipulative carney and his “psychic” wife through a warped world of carnival freaks, alcoholism, and betrayal. Guillermo Del Toro directs this second adaptation. The film boasts a star-studded cast featuring Cate Blanchett, Bradley Cooper, Willem Dafoe, and Ron Perlman, among others. Keep an eye out for it this year.
by Nella Larsen
When two childhood friends are reunited in adulthood, the facade of their carefully-crafted lives threatens to crumble. One of the women is passing as white, somehow unbeknownst to her white husband. Published in 1929, Passing by Nella Larsen is a product of its time with a message that resonates perhaps even more deeply today. The film is directed by Rebecca Hall and stars Tessa Thomson and Alexander Skarsgard. It premiered at Sundance this year.
by Eric Jager
Glimmer twins Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are writing the film adaptation of The Last Duel by Eric Jager. The story documents the last official instance of “trial by combat” in medieval France. Two former friends face off in a duel to settle a claim in which one assaulted the wife of the other. If the husband of the assaulted wife is killed, she too will be burned at the stake for her false allegations. We can expect to see The Last Duel released this October. Directed by Ridley Scott.
by Sara Gay Forden
This fascinating tale explores the many possible motives for Patrizia Reggiani killing her husband, Gucci heir Maurizio Gucci. It looks like Ridley Scott has had his hands full this pandemic season. Scott will direct this film adaptation, which is still in pre-production, but is slated to begin filming later this year. The Gucci cast is rumored to include Jared Leto, Al Pacino, Adam Driver, Jeremy Irons, Lady Gaga, and more.
by Thomas Savage
The ghost of Flannery O’Conner haunts this 1967 novel by Thomas Savage. The Power Of The Dog explores the relationship between two brothers who own a ranch in Montana. One brother is a repressed homosexual who sets out to destroy the other’s new wife. But not if the dog can help it! The film version, directed by Jane Campion, stars Kirsten Dunst and Benedict Cumberbatch.
by Patricia Highsmith
There’s something in Highsmith’s stories that translates so well from novel to screen. She has certainly earned her place as one of cinema’s longtime literary darlings. Ever heard of The Talented Mr. Ripley and its killer offshoots? There was even a French adaptation of Deep Water from 1981. Here comes an updated version of the sexy thriller by legend Patricia Highsmith, starring Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas. Even better, it’s directed by Adrian Lyne!
by John Preston
This historical novel documents how a 1938 archeological dig in Sutton Hoo, England forever changed history, and the lives of the people who lived in that town. The film version is directed by Simon Stone and stars Carey Mulligan and Lily James.
by Howard Michael Gould
Director Tim Kirkby brings us this adaptation of the novel Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould starring Morena Baccarin, Mel Gibson, and Charlie Hunnam. This is the story of an ex-cop recruited out of his retirement living off-the-grid to solve a Hollywood murder. Sounds like some good old LA crime pulp in the spirit of Elmore Leonard and James Ellroy. Bring it on, baby.
by William Shakespeare
Joel Coen joins the ranks of film giants, alongside Orson Welles and Roman Polanski, to take a stab at one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies. This one stars Denzel Washington as Lord Macbeth.
by D. Eric Maikranz
This story has it all. The Reincarnationist Papers by D. Eric Maikranz follows the account of Evan Michaels, a man who is haunted by the recall of his past lives. Michaels discovers a centuries-old secret society of others haunted by their past lives, called the Cognomia. The book offers a glimpse into the mysterious world of the Cognomia, presented as a true story, unearthed from three journals discovered in an antique store in Rome. The action-packed sci-fi film adaptation, Infinite is directed by Antoine Fuqua and stars Mark Wahlberg. Scriptwriters John Lee Hancock and Ian Shorr adapted this 2009 book for the screen. Infinite was shot all over the world and includes locations such as London, Mexico City, Nepal, NYC, Scotland, Thailand, and the Swiss Alps. Due to COVID, the original August 2020 release was rescheduled for May 28, 2021.
by Agatha Christie
A glamorous cruise down the Nile river turns deadly when a young, stylish, and beautiful heiress is shot through the head. Sounds like a job for sleuth Hercule Poirot! This timeless murder mystery is being adapted for the screen by writer Michael Green, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Branagh is back as Hercule Poirot in this follow-up to the 2009 Agatha Christie adaptation Murder On The Orient Express, which he also directed. Others in the cast include Gal Godot and Annette Benning. Death On The Nile drops September 17th, 2021.
by Francine Rivers
Born-again Christian author Francine Rivers penned this is re-telling of the biblical story of Gomer and Hosea set in California during the gold rush. Now it’s going to be a movie starring Abigail Cowen and Tom Lewis, directed by D.J. Caruso. The story follows Michael Hosea, who obeys God’s call to marry Angel, a prostitute since childhood. Angel is down, but she has plenty of self-esteem issues that only God can sort out for her. A love story of biblical proportions, set against the backdrop of the California gold rush. Eureka!
If you enjoyed this piece on 2021 film adaptations, check out The 14 Most Underrated Book-to-Film Adaptations
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