The movie that immediately popped into my head is also one of my all-time favorite movies, Stand by Me, based on the novella The Body by Stephen King. The movie stayed pretty true to the book except for one scene in the book that wasn't in the movie, but, quite frankly, I thought that was a good decision. It wasn't central to the plot at all, and it wasn't anything that I cared for.
I loved this movie when it came out in 1986, and I still love it today. Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell and Keifer Sutherland were all young and relatively unknown at the time, and I think they all did an amazing job. Richard Dreyfuss is perfect as the narrator of this story, and, of course, Ben E. King's "Stand by Me" (listen to a clip below) leads the soundtrack perfectly. Having Rob Reiner at the helm as director probably didn't hurt either. Here's a YouTube clip of the first few minutes of the movie. I wouldn't listen to it at work or in front of the kids, but that's just me. Of course, you never know how long these things will be available, so here's a link to the trailer at IMDB.com as well.
Another movie that I actually liked better than the book is The Hours. I thought the book, by Michael Cunningham, was OK, but the movie really got to me for some reason. It was one of those that you just want to sit and digest for a while after you watch it-no talking, no going out for dessert and coffee or shopping with friends afterward, but in a kind of depressing, I-think-I-just-want-to-sit-here-and-cry-cathartically-for-a-while kind of way. (I'm really selling it, aren't I?) Again, a stellar cast leads this film which was nominated for 9 Academy Awards (and numerous other awards). Nicole Kidman won for Best Actress in a Leading Role, and Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep turned in wonderful performances as the other female leads as well. Ed Harris (love him!), John C. Reilly, and Jeff Daniels make their appearances as well. You can watch the trailer here, and as long as it's available you can watch this clip which, I think, is a pretty good explanation of why Nicole Kidman walked away with the Oscar.
Incidentally, our local theater just reopened. It's just a small, two-screen theater, but it closed down about a year-and-a-half ago due to financial constraints. A local couple bought the theater, renovated it and reopened it this weekend as the Laie Palms Cinemas, just in time for the release of the latest Harry Potter movie. We didn't make it out for the premier, but hopefully, they were able to draw a big crowd and they will be successful. This theater is about 10 minutes from our house, and is the only place that I know of that uses actual butter on their popcorn, not
oily-flavored crap "butter flavoring." The next closest theater is about 30 minutes away, so I am looking forward to having a theater nearby again!