Those looking for a Jane Austen fix after watching Netflix’s adaptation of her final novel, Persuasion, starring Dakota Johnson, are in luck. There are more than a few good and even great film adaptations of Austen’s books available to stream now. From tried-and-true adaptations to more modern takes on the iconic English author’s classic work, there is a film out there for every Austen fan. (Even those who can’t fathom any movie living up to the book it’s based on—we know you’re out there, too).
This must-watch list includes a Bollywood version of Pride and Prejudice, a prep school sendup of Mansfield Park, and a lovingly hilarious homage to Austen’s entire literary canon. Gwyneth Paltrow, Anya Taylor-Joy, and Alicia Silverstone all put their own spin on Emma’s titular blonde heroine in three very different versions of the 1815 comedy of manners. For the hopeless romantics, there are also several Mr. Darcys with whom to go from enemies to lovers. Unfortunately, Colin Firth’s take on the character in the 1995 British miniseries Pride and Prejudice didn’t make the cut, but only because this list is focused on the full-length features inspired by Austen. Don’t worry, there are more than enough prideful men and spirited female protagonists on this list to make the heart flutter. Below are the 14 movies that will make you fall in love with Jane Austen all over again.
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet star in director Ang Lee’s sublime retelling (written by Thompson, who won an Oscar for her adaptation) of Austen’s first novel. The book tells the story of two sisters, on the brink of bankruptcy, who are forced to find financial prosperity through marriage. Prepare to fall in love with the late Alan Rickman’s stately Colonel Brandon.
Fire Island (2022)
Joel Kim Booster stars in this queer adaptation of Pride and Prejudice as Noah, a real Elizabeth Bennet-type, who, during his yearly trip to the titular Long Island summer hotspot, swears off men in hopes of helping his bestie Howie (Bowen Yang) get laid. That is until he meets the wealthy Will (Conrad Ricamora), who goes from being a thorn in his side to his underwear party dance partner in one of the sexiest scenes to ever be streamed.
Director Autumn de Wilde offers a stylish and snooty take on the titular matchmaker (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) that modernizes the romance at the center of Austen’s story. In this retelling, Mr. Knightley (a swoonworthy Johnny Flynn) is no longer 16 years Emma’s senior, but a peer who encourages her to be a little less Regina George and a little more Cher Horowitz.
Love & Friendship (2016)
The Whit Stillman-directed period comedy, based on Austen’s posthumous 1871 epistolary novel, Lady Susan, stars Kate Beckinsale as a flirtatious widow looking to marry off her only daughter and find a rich husband for herself. All while continuing an affair with her married lover. What could go wrong?
Austen aficionado Jane Hayes (Keri Russell) books a vacation of a lifetime to the world’s only immersive Austen experience—think: Westworld for Bridgerton lovers—to find her own Mr. Darcy. Unfortunately, the package she paid for only allows her to hang out in the servants’ wing, which makes it a little tougher to become the Elizabeth Bennet of her dreams. It won’t stop her from trying, though.
Cool girl Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) plays matchmaker to varying degrees of success in Amy Heckerling’s delightful ‘90s teen movie version of Emma which, for more than a quarter century now, has had viewers falling majorly, totally, butt-crazy in love with Paul Rudd.
Mansfield Park (1999)
In this rom-dram inspired by Austen’s favorite of her own novels, the vivacious Fanny Brice (Frances O’Connor) is sent to live with her wealthy cousins in hopes that she’ll learn how to become a proper society wife. She quickly realizes that being wealthy and privileged isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, which, funnily enough, makes her the object of every man’s affection.
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Renée Zellweger plays the movie’s namesake British singleton who finds herself stuck in a Pride and Prejudice-esque love triangle with her overconfident boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and the prideful lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). While elements of this film haven’t aged especially well—fat-shaming, sexual harassment, workplace power imbalances, to name a few—Bridget and Mark’s will-they-won’t-they still hasn’t gotten old.
Northanger Abbey (2007)
In this surreal adaptation of Austen’s slightly satirical gothic novel of the same name, Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) can’t seem to distinguish her real-life romances from the supernatural love stories she adores. No surprise, this doesn’t make dating easy.
Bride & Prejudice (2004)
Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s Bollywood spin on Pride and Prejudice stars Aishwarya Rai as Lalita, an unmarried woman, much to her mother’s chagrin, who finds herself butting heads with a wealthy American named Mr. Darcy (Martin Henderson) over love, marriage, and India’s economic future.
This earlier adaptation of Austen’s final novel features Sally Hakins as Anne Elliott, who’s given a second chance at love eight years after she was persuaded by her family to turn down a marriage proposal from the penniless Captain Frederick Wentworth (Rupert Penry-Jones). Too bad the now wealthy war hero holds a grudge against her for breaking his heart all those years ago.
The preppies of New York City’s Upper East Side fill in for the wealthiest of English society in Whit Stillman’s cheeky indie rom-com homage to Austen’s 1814 novel Mansfield Park, which lovingly lambasts the debutante class—often by poking fun at Austen herself.
In Douglas McGrath’s faithful interpretation of Austen’s 1815 novel, Gwyneth Paltrow plays Emma as a know-it-all who only learns how naive she really is about matters of the heart after getting hers broken. Toni Collette, Ewan McGregor, and Alan Cumming also star in the period rom-com.
Pride and Prejudice (2005)
With all due respect to Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen became the definitive Mr. Darcy the moment he took that long early morning stroll through the English meadow to profess his love for Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth Bennet. The future Succession star bewitched audiences, body and soul in Joe Wright’s beautiful adaptation of Austen’s greatest love story, and cinema hasn’t been the same since.
July 16, 2022 at 02:42AM Shannon Carlin