10 great Canadian book-to-movie adaptations
Need a short break from your summer reading list? Check out one of these films inspired by Canadian books.
1. Life of Pi
The incredible success of Life of Pi garnered Yann Martel a richly deserved Man Booker Prize and caught the eye of a master filmmaker. Ang Lee helmed the stunning film adaptation and took home a best director Oscar in 2013 for his efforts. In his acceptance speech Lee thanked Martel, "for writing this incredibly inspiring book."
Room was a favourite on the awards circuit when Emma Donoghue published the novel in 2010 and again when it became a movie in 2015. The spare, heartrending film received rave reviews and four Oscar nominations, including a best adapted screenplay nod for Donoghue. The Irish-Canadian writer has a new book coming out this fall (The Wonder) and is working on a screenplay adaptation of her book Frog Music.
The English Patient is one of Michael Ondaatje's most iconic works and has the distinction of being one of four novels that has ever tied for the Man Booker Prize (Ondaatje won in 1992 alongside Barry Unsworth for Sacred Hunger. Nadine Gordimer and Stanley Middleton tied in 1974). The 1996 film adaptation, directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe and Kristin Scott Thomas, was a sensation, winning nine Oscars. For its 20th anniversary, Scott Thomas told The Guardian, "I'd read the novel and fallen totally in love with it. The Poetry of the writing just swept me away. So when I heard there was going to be a film, I thought, 'God I have to get on it.'"
Lucy Maud Montgomery's enigmatic red-haired, freckle-faced heroine is perhaps the most beloved Canadian character in the country's literary canon. But Anne Shirley has many international fans too, including comedian Mindy Kaling. The CBC-TV miniseries premiered over 30 years ago and became an instant classic. Last spring, CBC started the hunt for a new Anne Shirley to star in the upcoming television series Anne.
Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel The Handmaid's Tale has inspired a ballet, an opera, plays, a rock album, a BBC radio drama and — of course — a feature film. The 1990 production starred Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway and Robert Duvall and was written by Nobel laureate Harold Pinter. The online streaming service Hulu is currently adapting the book as a television series with Elisabeth Moss and Samira Wiley in the lead roles.
6. Go Jump in the Pool!
Lovable Macdonald Hall scamps Bruno Walton and Melvin "Boots" O'Neal made their small screen debut this year on YTV. Go Jump in the Pool was one of seven novels in the Bruno and Boots series, which Gordon Korman legendarily started writing in the seventh grade. There are six other Macdonald Hall books and we're hoping we see more of Bruno and Boots on the screen.
Richard Van Camp spent five years writing The Lesser Blessed his critically acclaimed debut novel. The prolific author now has 20 books under his belt, including novels, picture books and graphic novels. The film adaptation premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2012 and received a nomination for best adapted screenplay at the Canadian Screen Awards.
Toronto filmmaker David Bezmogis looked no further than his own award-winning debut collection Natasha and Other Stories for inspiration for his latest film. Natasha is a darkly evocative and discomfiting coming-of-age story about a teenage boy who begins a sexual relationship with his 14-year-old cousin, a recent immigrant from Russia.
This Changes Everything is Naomi Klein's 500-page treatise about the increasingly urgent climate change crisis and the economic forces that quicken its pace. It was adapted as a documentary by her husband, filmmaker Avi Lewis, and premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.
10. Barney's Version
Barney's Version was Mordecai Richler's final novel and was largely considered to be one of his best comedic works. The abrasive, satirical tale of Barney Panofsky hit movie theatres in 2010 with a star-packed cast of Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Rosamund Pike and Minnie Driver.