Movies that were as good as, or nearly as good as the books:
1. The Shawshank Redemption.
The film adaptation was WONDERFUL, and they changed a few small details that served to improve the storyline. But most of the stuff - even the dialogue - is exactly the same. And the actors were perfectly cast! Red was a white guy with red hair in the story, but Morgan Freeman was so fantastic that of course now nobody else can be imagined in that role. Tim Robbins was fantastic too.
2. The Dead Zone.
The movie is, again, pretty much exactly like the book, with only one or two differences. Christopher Walken actually did a great, un-Christopher Walken part and pulled it off so well. The TV pilot is also excellent - basically the movie with one or two changes made so it could become a weekly series.
3. The Stand
Okay, this is a mini-series, but it's another adaptation that's almost exactly the book on film, with the only changes serving to improve the flow of the story.
Those three books were all written by Stephen King. I don't even really LIKE Stephen King!!
4. The Handmaid's Tale
I think the film evoked Margaret Atwood's book perfectly. And the ending of the film has slightly more hope that the book, but not so that it ruins the book, not at all!!
5. Dune. And I do mean the movie.
Ouch, I know this one won't be popular. A lot of stuff was left out, some stuff was changed or made more explicit. But VISUALLY David Lynch's movie evokes the book. It really does seem like another time and place altogether. I watch it for the visuals alone, although the acting was good too.
Movies of books that I don't think worked:
1. The third Harry Potter movie. Yuk. Sorry. Watching them running around in the wetness made me want to grab a towel and dry the lot of them off! It made me hanker after a nice bubble bath; not really what a Harry Potter movie should be doing, I'm sure! And the stupid talking heads?! Just dumb.
2. 1984 (the one made in 1984).
VERY faithful to the book, reproduced almost exactly. And that's the problem - it's WAYYYY too static. I've read 1984 more than 20 times; the movie bored the cr*p out of me!! While Winston was being tortured by O'Brien I was going, "Yes, yes, room 101, yadda, get to the part about loving Big Brother already so I can turn this off!!!"
And one movie that wasn't better or worse than the book but reinvented some concepts and became a classic on its own: