20 Movies Based on Your Favorite Southern Books

Movies Based on Southern Books
Photo: Southern Living/Amazon

The next time you find yourself searching for a movie to watch, turn to your bookshelf for inspiration. Instead of endlessly scrolling, find one of the many great movies based on Southern books, and add it to your queue. We'd venture to say that there's an adaptation out there for every taste. From dramas to romantic comedies, Academy Award winners to feel-good flicks, kid-friendly stories to buzzy new releases, you're sure to find something great to watch on our list. There are, of course, some some long-loved favorites (including movies based on classics by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, and Truman Capote), but you might also discover something new to add to your movie-night lineup as well as your bookshelf.

01 of 20

A Walk to Remember (2002)

A Walk to Remember

Based on: A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks (1999)

Set in Beaufort, North Carolina, and filmed in nearby Wilmington, this adaptation of a favorite Nicholas Sparks novel stars Shane West and Mandy Moore.

02 of 20

Because of Winn-Dixie (2005)

Because of Winn-Dixie

Based on: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (2000)

Based on a novel about a girl and her dog by Newberry Medalist Kate DiCamillo, this movie was directed by Wayne Wang from a screenplay by Joan Singleton. It's set in Naomi, Florida, and stars Jeff Daniels, Cicely Tyson, Dave Matthews, Eva Marie Saint, and AnnaSophia Robb.

03 of 20

Big Fish (2003)

Big Fish

Based on: Big Fish: A Novel of Mythic Proportions by Daniel Wallace (1998)

Directed by Tim Burton, this film was a favorite when it premiered in 2003. Blending elements of fantasy and tall tales, it stars Ewan McGregor and was shot on location in Alabama.

04 of 20

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Based on: Juicy and Delicious, a play by Lucy Alibar (2012)

This film is set in Southern Louisiana and tells the story of a young girl and her father, played by Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry. It's directed by Benh Zeitlin from a screenplay by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar.

05 of 20

Cold Mountain (2003)

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

Based on: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (1997)

Starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger, this film was a hit when it premiered in 2003. Cold Mountain was written and directed by Anthony Minghella and is based on the National Book Award-winning novel of the same name by Charles Frazier which is set in North Carolina during the Civil War.

06 of 20

The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Based on: The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

Alice Walker's 1982 book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Award; not long after, it was adapted into a film starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover, and directed by Steven Spielberg.

07 of 20

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Benjamin Button

Based on: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1922)

Directed by David Fincher, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button stars Brad Pitt as the titular character, a man who ages backwards. It also features Cate Blanchett and Taraji P. Henson and has a screenplay by Eric Roth from a story by Roth and Robin Swicord.

08 of 20

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Fried Green Tomatoes by Fannie Flagg

Based on: Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg (1987)

Fannie Flagg's beloved novel got an equally beloved movie adaptation in 1991's Fried Green Tomatoes, which is set in Alabama in the 1920s. The screenplay is by Fannie Flagg and Carol Sobieski and it stars Kathy Bates, Jessica Tandy, Mary Stuart Masterson, Cicely Tyson, and Mary-Louise Parker.

09 of 20

Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump

Based on: Forrest Gump by Winston Groom (1986)

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump tells the story of a man born in rural Greenbow, Alabama, to whom many ordinary, difficult, and fantastic things happen as the decades pass. It stars Tom Hanks and Robin Wright.

10 of 20

The Grass Harp (1995)

The Grass Harp

Based on: The Grass Harp by Truman Capote (1951)

Set in 1940s Alabama, this story follows a young boy who loses his father and is sent to live with his father's cousins, Verena and Dolly Talbo. Adapted from the Truman Capote novella, the film stars Piper Laurie, Sissy Spacek, Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon, and Nell Carter.

11 of 20

Mudbound (2017)


Based on: Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (2008)

Directed by Dee Rees and written by Rees and Virgil Williams, this film adapts Hillary Jordan's novel Mudbound. It's set in rural Mississippi and stars Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Clarke, Jason Mitchell, Jonathan Banks, Rob Morgan, and Mary J. Blige.

12 of 20

No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men

Based on: No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (2005)

No Country for Old Men is a 2007 film based on the 2005 book by Cormac McCarthy. It's set in West Texas, is written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, and Josh Brolin.

13 of 20

The Notebook (2004)

The Notebook

Based on: The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (1996)

One of the most-watched rom-coms of the 2000s, The Notebook is based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. Set in small-town North Carolina, it's directed by Nick Cassavetes and stars Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling.

14 of 20

The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

Secret Life of Bees

Based on: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2001)

Directed by Gina Price-Blythewood, The Secret Life of Bees brings to life Sue Monk Kidd's popular novel. It's set in South Carolina in the 1960s and stars Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning.

15 of 20

Steel Magnolias (1989)

Steel Magnolias

Based on: Steel Magnolias, a play by Robert Harling (1987)

Steel Magnolias is based on a play by Robert Harling, whose late sister inspired the story. The film stars Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts.

16 of 20

The Prince of Tides (1991)

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Based on: The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (1986)

Pat Conroy wrote the novel and co-wrote the screenplay for The Prince of Tides, a drama directed by Barbra Streisand and starring Streisand and Nick Nolte. It's set in New York and South Carolina.

17 of 20

Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005)

Their Eyes Were Watching God

Based on: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

Directed by Darnell Martin, Their Eyes Were Watching God adapts Zora Neale Hurston's novel of the same name. It's a bildungsroman set in Florida that stars Halle Berry as the heroine Janie Crawford. The screenplay is written by Suzan-Lori Parks, Misan Sagay, and Bobby Smith, Jr.

18 of 20

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

To Kill a Mockingbird

Based on: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

Harper Lee's 1960 novel won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a popular movie starring Gregory Peck and Mary Badham. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch. It's set in small-town Alabama.

19 of 20

True Grit (2010)

Arkansas: True Grit by Charles Portis

Based on: True Grit by Charles Portis (1968)

Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, True Grit is set in Arkansas and Oklahoma and follows a young girl named Mattie as she tries to avenge the death of her father. It stars Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld. There was an earlier movie adaptation, too, a 1969 film starring John Wayne and Kim Darby.

20 of 20

Where the Crawdads Sing (2022)

Delia Owens

Based on: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (2018)

This new film was directed by Olivia Newman and has a screenplay by Lucy Alibar. It brings to life Delia Owens's popular novel Where the Crawdads Sing, which is set in the marshes of North Carolina and stars Daisy Edgar-Jones as the main character, Kya.

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