Coraline tells the story of a girl who discovers a door to an alternate universe, and from what I have seen, Selig has gotten it just right. Which got me to thinking about what other movies got it just right when adapting a novel for the screen. For the record, here are my choices for the other movies that were translated to the screen correctly.
I've already discussed Julie Harris' astonishing performance here, but I must cite Robert Wise's 1961 adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel, The Haunting of Hill House not only because it may well be the scariest movie ever made, but because it captures the mood and feel of Jackson's prose so brilliantly.
The Silence of the Lambs
The Silence of the Lambs is the first Thomas Harris novel I ever read. Jonathan Demme's 1991 adaptation won Oscars for Best Picture; Best Actor (Anthony Hopkins); Best Actress (Jody Foster); Best Adapted Screenplay (Ted Tally) and Best Director. When I first saw this movie, I was astounded not only by the performnaces, but how closely Demme had come to re-creating the world I had imagined when I read the book.
Gone with the Wind
Director Victor Fleming (credited for The Wizard of Oz) had quite a year in 1939. Taking over for George Cukor, Fleming rendered novelist Margaret Mitchell's novel about the American Civil War and a spunky Southern belle into a cinema legend. Mitchell's sprawling tale was one of teh most anticpated films, ever, and if adjusted for inflation, is still one of the all-time top-grossers in movie history.
The Shawshank Redemption/The Green Mile/The Mist
Director Frank Darabount is one of three or so directors who has succesfully managed to translate novels by Stephen King to the big screen. All three of the above-mentioned films are remarkably faithful to the source material... with one exception. King's novella The Mist ends on a most ambiguous note - Darabount's adaptation ends on a truly devastating one (and the only possibly satisfying filmic ending)
I've already discussed the many merits of Stardust here, but I must also mention Matthew vaughn's 2007 adaptation Neil Gaiman's adult fairy tale as the archetypically perfect fairy tale. With fellow writer Jane Goldman, Vaughn manages to capture Gaiman's fanciful tale in all its glory, while managing to avoid some the novel' sslower parts. Pure cinematic joy.
George Seton's film version of Arthur Hailey's best-seller is inarguably the Grand-Daddy of '70's All Star disaster movies. It features a host of then A-listers (including Helen Hayes, Dean Martin and Sonny Bono) in a story of intrigue, affairs and mid-air exploisions. Thrilling stuff for the average beach-novel reader in 1970.