1. Hidden Figures (2016)
The book: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
If you’re in the mood for a feel-good movie, then look no further. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe star in this movie about the three Black women who worked at NASA during the early years of the space program. They were an integral part of launching astronaut John Glenn into orbit. This true story is most likely not one you learned about in school.
2. Gone Girl (2014)
The book: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
We could write a dissertation about Gone Girl, and it still wouldn’t be long enough to dive into the complicated issues tackled in the movie. Here’s what you need to know: The David Fincher–directed mystery movie is about a husband who becomes a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. The thriller tackles parenting, manipulation, misogyny, and most of all, marriage. When it comes to movie adaptations of books, this is near the top of the list.
3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The book: Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King
The highest-rated movie on IMDb, this classic is parodied (and homaged) all over the place, a favorite of both fans and critics. It’s a drama, to be sure, but as far as prison stories go, watchable and even a little hopeful.
4. Jurassic Park (1993)
The book: Jurassic Park: A Novel by Michael Crichton
This blockbuster keeps getting rebooted for a reason: It’s just cool to watch dinosaurs chase people! Yes, there’s a lesson here about overstepping the bounds of science and hubris in the face of nature, but mostly, T-Rex go chomp-chomp.
5. Room (2015)
The book: Room by Emma Donoghue
Both the book and the film adaptation of this intense story follow a kidnapped young woman and her son, who we learn was born in captivity. When they finally escape their abuser, the child gets to experience the outside world for the first time in his life. Starring Brie Larsson who won the Oscars for Best Actress for her role in this film and Jacob Tremblay.