Franny and Zooey — Wes Anderson
This is an easy one — the prodigy-riddled clan in The Royal Tenenbaums is basically the Glass family anyways, so it would be only right to give Anderson the chance to do it right. We think his penchant for bittersweet nostalgia and sweet strangeness, not to mention his masterful treatment of New York City as a dreamlike fairy tale land, make him the man to adapt the entire Salinger canon — if only that were allowed.
Moby Dick — James Cameron
Not only is James Cameron the king of the big-budget, bombastic adventure movie (just think how fantastic a Moby Dick movie with Avatar‘s budget would be in 3D), he’s also an avid deep-sea explorer, so we think he’d (ahem) dive into this project with aplomb.
The Great Gatsby — Sofia Coppola
Baz Luhrmann’s all very well and good, but let’s face it: no one does decadence like Sofia Coppola. We want to see a Great Gatsby film in full Marie Antoinette style, near-silence, pink confections and all.
Wise Blood — David Lynch
We’re dying to see Flannery O’Connor’s southern gothic masterpiece in the hands of David Lynch — we think he would twist those disturbing religious themes and strange comedic moments into sheer cinematic brilliance. Plus, doesn’t “wise blood” sound like a perfectly Lynchian phrase? It’s like something the owls might have.
Lord of the Flies — Joss Whedon
There’s no one better than Whedon at teenage allegory — see the entire run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — and we think he’d handle this classic novel of teenage boys trapped on an island with his trademark cleverness and sincerity of purpose. Though there wouldn’t be any female characters to kick ass, we think he’d inject the story with the heart and humanity that it needs to really sing. After all, as the man himself explained about his film Goners, “it’s an antidote to that very kind of film, the horror movie with the expendable human beings in it. Because I don’t believe any human beings are.”
Animal Farm — Werner Herzog
Now, while we really want to see Herzog adapt Where’s Waldo?, we think Animal Farm would be almost as good — what with all that pessimism about the human condition and conflict between nature and humanity. We imagine a live-action adaptation on desaturated, gritty film, with very heavy subtitles.
Catch-22 — Quentin Tarantino
As far as we’re concerned, Catch-22 should be Tarantino’s dream — it’s bloody, funny, and ripe for peppering with insider references, not to mention completely non-sequential. Plus, we think Tarantino would take special pleasure in creating a cinematic reference point for such an enduring phrase — or ignoring it completely. Surprise us.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn — Judd Apatow
Who else but Judd Apatow to direct the most famous buddy novel of all time? Sure, in an Apatow adaptation, Huck and Jim might turn out a little drunker than you remember, but we think he’d still be able to choreograph pitch-perfect hijinks and one liners that would update the classic novel for a very modern audience.
The Picture of Dorian Gray — Darren Aronofsky
We were highly disappointed by the most recent film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s only novel, so we nominate Darren Aronofsky, who we think would do the book justice with his dark, intensely strange vision. After all, it’s a semi-mystical horror story about beautiful people, which um, is basically Aronofsky’s favorite thing.
Don Quixote — The Coen Brothers
The Coen brothers are at their best with chummy adventure stories that mix gruff seriousness with a charming, playful sense of humor, and we think Don Quixote is the perfect combination. We imagine a wry, slightly surreal adaptation with just enough action to satisfy. We would also accept musical numbers, a la O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Just saying.