Donnie Brasco (1997)
The Book: Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life In The Mafia - Joseph D. Pistone (1988)
Why It's Better: Brasco's autobiography was filled with anecdotes so wild it was hard to believe it wasn't fiction - it's not hard to see how it could make one brilliant movie.
Thanks in no small part to excellent performances from both Pacino and Depp, director Mike Newell breathes life into Pistone's story.
Out of Sight (1998)
The Book: Out of Sight - Elmore Leonard (1996)
Why It's Better: It comes down to one simple thing - chemistry. Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney complement each other so well you can almost see the sparks flying between them, and the resulting film is so smart, smooth and slick that it's impossible not to love.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)
The Book: To Kill A Mockingbird (1960)
Why It's Better: It's true that a book and its movie adaptation should complement each other, but sometimes a film can do things that the novel simply can't.
In this case, it's Gregory Peck's powerhouse performance as Atticus Finch - the book may be practically perfect in every way, but Peck really makes Finch live.
Cape Fear (1991)
The Book: The Executioners - John D. MacDonald (1957)
Why It's Better: The Executioners may be a tense read, but it has nothing of the raw brutality of the Scorsese remake.
De Niro is on fine form as avenger Max Cady, but it was a surprising turn from Juliette Lewis that really cemented this movie's classic status.
The Firm (1993)
The Book: The Firm - John Grisham (1991)
Why It's Better: As an author / criminal defence lawyer, there are few writers who can pen a legal thriller like John Grisham.
Gripping though the book is, Sydney Pollack's decision to keep protagonist Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) clean and preserve his integrity makes him a much more engaging leading man.
An Education (2009)
The Book: An Education - Lynn Barber (2009)
Why It's Better: Lynn Barber's touching memoir about a schoolgirl affair that rocked her teenage years was given a neat makeover from Brit lit royalty Nick Hornby.
Relative newbie Carey Mulligan breathed life into the character of Jenny, and the film is touching without ever becoming overly sentimental.
The Book: Misery - Stephen King (1988)
Why It's Better: King and Reiner reunited for this story of an author imprisoned by a crazed fan, and the decision to chop much of the book's gore made it less mindless horror, more psychological thriller.
King's characters came film-ready, and Kathy Bates's blood-curdling portrayal of Annie Wilkes impressed (and terrified) enough to win her a Best Actress Academy Award.
The Book: Drive - James Sallis (2005)
Why It's Better: There are numerous examples of brilliant books being turned into equally brilliant movies, but Drive is one of those rare cases where we see an average book transformed into something spectacular.
Nicholas Winding Refn wisely decided to play up the relationship between Driver and Irene, and the chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan is electric.
The Prestige (2006)
The Book: The Prestige - Christopher Priest (1995)
Why It's Better: Priest's captivating tale of feuding magicians was considered untouchable when it came to movie adaptations - the highly complex story is as jam-packed full of tricks and illusions as a Penn & Teller Vegas show - but that didn't deter the Nolan brothers.
They produced a movie that managed to be even more gripping than its literary counter-part, with Priest himself calling it "a fascinating adaption".
Jackie Brown (1997)
The Book: Rum Punch - Elmore Leonard (1992)
Why It's Better: It was love at first read for Quentin Tarantino and Leonard's Rum Punch , and the director's affection for the text is obvious in this stylish adaptation.
Tarantino was reluctant to share his tweaks to the story with Leonard, but he had nothing to fear - the author considered it to be not only the best adaptation of his work, but possibly the best script he'd ever read.