As a brand-new year begins, watch for Kirkus’ in-depth columns on Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches, based on the author’s horror-fantasy trilogy (premiering on AMC and AMC+ on Jan. 8), and a new documentary series (premiering on Hulu on Jan. 26), based on essays from the nonfiction book The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, a Kirkus Prize finalist co-edited by Pulitzer Prize winner Nikole Hannah-Jones. Here are four more book-to-screen adaptations to watch in January:

Jan. 4: The Lying Life of Adults (series premiere, Netflix)

In Elena Ferrante’s 2020 novel—also a Kirkus Prize finalist—a 12-year-old Neapolitan girl, Giovanna Trada, overhears her father say that her face reminds him of his estranged and troubled sister, Giovanna’s Aunt Vittoria. The tween decides to find and get to know Vittoria—a decision that results in her learning new things about her family and about herself. This new Italian-language streaming series promises a vivid, sweeping drama set in Naples of the 1990s. It features newcomer Giordana Marengo as Giovanna and Valeria Golino as Vittoria, who’s perhaps best known to American audiences for her supporting role in 1988’s Rain Man; more recently, she appeared in the acclaimed 2019 French film Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

Jan. 6: The Pale Blue Eye (film premiere, Netflix)

Back in 2012, John Cusack starred as Edgar Allan Poe in the movie The Raven, which tells a fictional tale, set late in Poe’s life, of the author pursuing a serial killer. The setup may have reminded some readers of Louis Bayard’s unrelated—and far better received—2003 historical novel, The Pale Blue Eye, which received a Kirkus star. That novel features a much younger Poe, who’s a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1830; he helps seasoned detective and former constable Gus Landor investigate two gruesome killings at the academy. This new film version, written and directed by Antlers’ Scott Cooper, offers an impressive cast led by Christian Bale as Landor and The Devil All the Time’s Harry Melling as Poe; it includes the estimable Gillian Anderson, Toby Jones, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Robert Duvall.

Jan. 13: A Man Called Otto (theatrical film premiere)

Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s bestselling 2014 novel, A Man Called Ove, was adapted once before as a feature film in his native country in 2015. This new movie, directed by Christopher Robin’s Marc Forster and starring Tom Hanks, shifts the action from suburban Sweden to the suburban United States and changes the titular character’s name and nationality. Both versions tell a story of a curmudgeonly widower who has a complicated relationship with his neighbors and finds comfort in a new relationship. Hanks has ably played sad, solitary characters in his recent work, including the 2019 Western News of the World and 2021 SF drama Finch,and this role seem tailor-made for his considerable talents.


Jan. 27: Lockwood & Co. (series premiere, Netflix)

Writer/director Joe Cornish is best known for his highly entertaining 2011 SF horror comedy film, Attack the Block, about teenagers in a South London council estate who take on terrifying alien invaders. This new streaming series, based on Jonathan Stroud’s five-book middle-grade series, also promisingly features teens fighting monsters in London—in this case, ghosts.  In the new adaptation, Lucy Carlyle (Bridgerton’s Ruby Stokes), who has psychic powers, teams up with fellow ghost hunters Anthony Lockwood (newcomer Cameron Chapman) and George Karim (Holby City’s Ali Hadji-Heshmati) to solve a mystery. Cornish excels at action set-pieces, and the teaser below promises plenty of spectral thrills.

David Rapp is the senior Indie editor.