Movie adaptations that were directed by screenwriters

Look, we’re all for original ideas when it comes to movies, but, there is also something to be said for adaptations. And, often, some of the best films in the world wind up being adapted from great novels. Take Gone Girl, for instance, that was a wonderful movie and a brilliant adaptation. There is also the debate about whether or not screenwriters would make the best directors. It’s certainly true that it would seem to make it simpler directing a script you’ve adapted yourself – but perhaps that’s a separate issue. Here is a list of what we feel are the best movie adaptations directed by screenwriters.

The Godfather (1972) – Francis Ford Coppola

Often cited among the best films of all time, there is no doubting The Godfather is a masterpiece of cinema. Written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather set the benchmark for the modern gangster movie. Epic and sprawling, the film is a wonderful character study of family life in the mafia, and some fantastic performances from Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. It’s a movie we like to watch each year just to remind ourselves how awesome it is.


The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003) – Peter Jackson

We couldn’t talk about wonderful adaptations without mentioning the Rings now, could we?! The trilogy that it was thought could never be adapted has to go down as one of the best adaptations in history. J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy novels are treated with care and respect by Jackson – who adapted them with wife Fran Boyle. The casting is perfect, the scenery breathtaking, and the story is one for the ages – the classic battle of good vs. evil. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a masterclass in fantasy storytelling, and the success of the movies set the benchmark for further fantasy films.

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No Country For Old Men (2007) – The Coen Brothers

Adapted from the successful novel by Cormac McCarthy, arguably the greatest living American writer, No Country has all the Coen Brothers hallmarks. It’s perfectly paced, wonderfully shot, and impeccably acted. The story is a faithful and successful adaptation, with Javier Bardem deservedly scooping the Oscar for his performance. But it’s Tommy Lee Jones’ aging Sheriff Bell who captures the heart of the piece. With the themes of fate, conscience, and free will mirroring many of the Coen’s other works, No Country For Old Men is the perfect adaptation from the brothers.


Jackie Brown (1997) – Quentin Tarantino

You may not know this, but Jackie Brown is actually an adaptation, albeit a loose one. Quentin Tarantino is a man who prides himself on his original work, and the worlds he creates, but this is the one exception. Loosely adapted from the Elmore Leonard novel Rum Punch, Jackie Brown is Tarantino’s most under-appreciated work. But, there’s still time to dig it out and check the movie out from a new perspective. An homage to the blaxploitation movies of the 1970s, Jackie Brown is a taut, tense, and wonderfully written crime thriller.


The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – Frank Darabont

Frank Darabont is well-known to TV viewers for developing the hit show The Walking Dead, but, before that, the Stephen King buff’s finest work was King adaptation The Shawshank Redemption. Adapted from a novella by the esteemed horror author, Shawshank became a huge success, winning Darabont numerous awards. The story of one man surviving prison through hope and friendship captured the hearts of millions, and this remains one of the best movie adaptations we’ve ever seen.


As you can see, there are plenty of amazing movie adaptations out there that have been directed by screenwriters. It makes sense for most screenwriters to become directors as well because they feel protective of the scripts they write and want to make sure they are handled in a very particular way. These are just a few of our favorite movie adaptations from screenwriters, and we hope there will be much more in the future.