Best Movies On Netflix That Are Based On Books

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

As the original movie-streaming platform, Netflix offers access to some of the best films ever made. Some of the best movies didn’t start out as screenplays but captured the hearts of audiences from the printed pages of a book. From action to heartfelt romances, the following five movies on Netflix bring the literary essence of the books they’re based on to life on the screen.

Clear and Present Danger

1994’s Clear and Present Danger features Harrison Ford as the iconic Jack Ryan in this classic action flick that is currently streaming on Netflix. The film, directed by Phillip Noyce, follows the plot of Tom Clancy’s novel and depicts Ryan as he is appointed CIA Acting Deputy Director (Intelligence) (DDI).

Ryan soon finds out that his colleagues are conducting a covert war against the Columbian drug cartel under the president’s orders. Like James Bond, Jack Ryan is a character that has been passed down and portrayed by many incredible actors. Harrison Ford is the only actor to have portrayed this character twice, first in Patriot Games (1992) and then in Clear and Present Danger (1994).

Donnie Brasco

Included in Netflix’s extensive film catalog is Donnie Brasco, a film about mafia life that is based on the non-fiction book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia by Joseph D. Pistone and Richard Woodley.

Released in 1997, Donnie Brasco stars Al Pacino and Johhny Depp in the story of an FBI agent who infiltrates the mob and realizes that he identifies more with mafia life than with the life of an FBI agent fighting against them.

The film was released to critical praise, lauding Depp and Pacino’s performances and director Mike Newell’s stark and gritty portrayal of life in the crime syndicate. 


When Chris Van Allsburg wrote Jumanji in 1981, he couldn’t have imagined that his children’s book about an adventurous board game coming to life would be turned into one of the best classic films ever made only 14 years later. Jumanji, starring Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, and Bradley Pierce, is currently streaming on Netflix. 

When famed film critic Robert Ebert reviewed Jumanji, he said the board game was “like those video games where you achieve one level after another.” Ironically, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, starring Jack Black, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart, was released in 2017, following this exact premise. The sequel is also available on Netflix. 

Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down, directed and produced by Ridley Scott, is a gripping war film released in 2001. The movie, co-produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, is based on journalist Mark Bowden’s non-fiction book of the same name, which recounts the U.S. military’s daring raid in Mogadishu in 1993. 

The story revolves around a Black Hawk helicopter that crashes in enemy territory, putting the soldiers’ lives at risk. With a talented ensemble cast including Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, and Tom Hardy in his debut role, the film captivates audiences with its intense portrayal of the events. 

While the movie garnered positive reviews, it faced criticism for inaccuracies. Despite that, the film won two Academy Awards for Best Film Editing and Best Sound. This classic war film is currently available to stream on Netflix.

Pride & Prejudice

Pride & Prejudice, based on Jane Austin’s iconic and classic novel, is back on Netflix, after taking a brief hiatus from the platform. Directed by Joe Wright, the film is a 2005 romantic drama film based on Jane Austen’s novel written in 1813. The story follows the Bennet sisters as they deal with regular life challenges like marriage, morality, and misconceptions. 

Keira Knightley shines as Elizabeth Bennet, alongside Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. Screenwriter Deborah Moggach initially aimed for faithfulness to the novel but made some deviations, supported by Wright, so that the film presents a more authentic and gritty Regency era, shot entirely in England.