10 Best-Selling Novels and the Directors Who Should Adapt Them


Yesterday, we heard that David Fincher, director of Fight Club and The Social Network (among numerous other things), is considering signing on to direct the adaptation of Gone Girl, the thriller that took this year’s book world by storm. Fincher is great and all (and, as Deadline so awkwardly points out, “has handled female-themed Panic Room with Jodie Foster”), but we don’t think he’s the best man for the job. After the jump, we’ve taken a look at ten contemporary bestsellers, including Gone Girl, and picked the directors that we think would be the best at adapting them (even if, er, film versions have already been made). Click through to see our choices, and feel free to argue us down in the comments.

Gone Girl , Gillian Flynn – Christopher Nolan

Forget Batman for a minute. In his dark heart, Chris Nolan is a clockmaker, fitting the tiny pieces together with precision, leaving the viewer gasping, which is what this book needs. After all, there’s more than a little Memento in Gone Girl.

Fifty Shades of Grey , E.L. James – Jane Campion

Now bear with us, because the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey we’re envisioning isn’t necessarily the same one you are. We want to see the book transformed into art, while maintaining all the sex — something Campion would probably be interested in. We imagine it all in the same tones as The Piano, and we imagine it much, much sexier.

Freedom , Jonathan Franzen – Sam Mendes

For a true blockbuster book you need a truly great director, and we love Sam Mendes. Plus, who better to expose both the strangeness and the mundanity of the dissolution of a middle class American family than the director of American Beauty and Revolutionary Road?

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell , Suzanna Clarke – Guillermo del Toro

This is an easy one. We’d love to see Del Toro inflict his twisty dark magic on Clarke’s genre-busting tome. After all, he loves stuff like this. We’d give him a huge scale, and let him go wild.

Harry Potter Series, J.K. Rowling – Joss Whedon

Obviously, the Harry Potter films have already been made, to varying degrees of success (in reality, more of them should have been made by Alfonso Cuarón). But in retrospect, we’d like to suggest an entirely different someone for the whole series: that’s right, Joss Whedon. Look, he can do big budget ensemble pieces (The Avengers), he can follow a franchise from light and sort of scary beginnings to dire-as-hell endings (Buffy), and he knows his teenagers (everything). Plus, all those half-hilarious/half-serious, crazy punny moments in the books? It’s Whedon who would make those magic. (Then again, this writer has an enormous, pulpy soft spot for both Harry Potter and all things Joss Whedon, so this may be a double degree of wish fulfillment.)

Twilight , Stephenie Meyer – David Lynch

Right? The only thing to do with Twilight is to turn it into some weird, meta, terrifying film. Sure, nothing about his interpretation would be canon (probably) but, come on, would you not watch Twilight as directed by David Lynch? You know you would.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay , Michael Chabon – The Coen Brothers

The Coen brothers can do pretty much anything, as far as we can tell. But we think they would bring the right sense of poppy humor and gritty flash to Chabon’s comics-centric bestseller, treating it with both the seriousness and fun it requires.

The Fault in Our Stars , John Green – Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Even though it only came out a year ago, we kind of can’t believe that John Green’s out-of-the-park YA blockbuster isn’t a movie yet (though the rights have certainly been picked up, and it’s only a matter of time). Our pick for director? The husband and wife team that directed Little Miss Sunshine and Ruby Sparks — we think they’d be able to infuse this book with the magic it requires and bring its wisdom and heart-crunching soul to life.

A Visit From the Goon Squad , Jennifer Egan – P.T. Anderson

This was a tough one — whoever directs this movie has to be able to pretty much do everything. Luckily, Anderson can handle mosaic-like ensemble films (Magnolia), flashy underworlds (Boogie Nights), and odd, weighty sweetness (Punch-Drunk Love). Now, if we could only verify that he would do something cool with the Power Point chapter.

Wolf Hall , Hilary Mantel — Ang Lee

An epic book (and an epic book series) requires a director of epics, and Ang Lee is certainly such. Just imagine all the lush visuals of Life of Pi, the delicacy of Brokeback Mountain and the political tension of Lust, Caution applied to the reign of Henry VIII. Yes, sounds good to us too.