Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing" releases this weekend, starring Alexis Denisof and Amy Acker.
"Much Ado About Nothing" (1993). Kenneth Branagh beat Whedon to the punch at adapting this comedy and set a pretty decent bar, receiving a warm reception from critics. It had quite the ensemble cast with Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves and a young Kate Beckinsale in starring roles.
"Hamlet" (1948). One of the most revered versions of one of Shakespeare's most famous plays. The film is the only straight adaptation to win the Oscar for best picture, and Laurence Olivier is the only man to win best director and best actor for the same film.
"West Side Story" (1961). Shakespeare never wrote a musical, but Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim added their own touch to the playwright's work with an adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet" that set the action in 1950s New York among rival gangs. The movie won 10 Oscars, including best picture, and is considered one of the greatest American films ever made.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999). Another star-studded cast made up director Michael Hoffman's version of "A Midsummer Night's Dream," but the members seemed a little mismatched. As New York Times critic Janet Maslin put it, "...Calista Flockhart, hardly fits into the same film with David Strathairn's reserved Duke Theseus, or with Rupert Everett as a slinky Oberon." Reviews were mixed but lent toward positive.
"Romeo and Juliet" (1968). The original incarnation of the classic love story may still be its best adaptation. Franco Zeffirelli directed with Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey portraying the star-crossed lovers. It won two Oscars and also received best picture and best director nominations.
"Henry V" (1989). Kenneth Branagh's run of Shakespeare films began with his Oscar-nominated stints as director and star of "Henry V." His "St. Crispin's Day" speech hit all the right notes and is considered one of the best performances of the famous monologue.
"The Tempest" (2010). Director Julie Taymor sparked a lot of interest in her version of the play when she switched the sex of the lead character, Prospero, casting Helen Mirren in a role traditionally played by a man. But the A-list cast could not save this film from being a dud with critics and practically non-existent at the box office.
"Hamlet" (1990). Franco Zeffirelli at it again. This rendition of "Hamlet" starred Mel Gibson as the Danish prince when his acting career was still what made headlines. Kenneth Branagh came out with his own version of the tragedy only six years later, but it's a toss-up for which was the superior adaptation.
"10 Things I Hate About You" (1999). Shakespeare for teenagers. This loose adaptation of "Taming of the Shrew" holds a special place in the hearts of many teens and twentysomethings, thanks in large part to a breakout performance from Heath Ledger and his rendition of "Can't Take My Eyes of You."
"She's the Man" (2006). Before Amanda Bynes was making headlines with her run-ins with the police and court appearances, she gave an adaptation of "Twelfth Night" a shot. Her performance wasn't nearly as interesting as her recent output on twitter has been.
"Romeo + Juliet" (1996). Baz Luhrmann added his signature flair to Shakespeare in this modern adaptation. Definitely over the top, but it gave a unique stamp to the film. Starring a pre-"Titanic" Leonardo DiCaprio, the film is one of the top grossing Shakespeare adaptations to date with nearly $150 million worldwide.
"Shakespeare in Love" (1998). It may not be an actual adaptation of any of Shakespeare's plays, but it contains many elements from them including "Romeo and Juliet" and "Twelfth Night." The best picture winner gave us a look at the young Shakespeare and his inspiration. It may get some flack for beating "Saving Private Ryan" at the Oscars, but few can argue that it's enjoyable.