How Would You Rank These Jane Austen Movies?

For reasons I don’t completely understand, I decided I wanted to watch a bunch of Jane Austen movies this weekend. It’s not that much of a mystery when I think about it: They’re essentially what you get if you combine a rom com with the political intrigue of Game of Thrones.

We started with the new version of Emma, then moved on to Pride & Prejudice, then watched Sense & Sensibility, and finally ended with Austenland (which isn’t based on a Jane Austen novel, but it is very much all about Jane Austen novels). I enjoyed all of these movies, and my rankings of them are below:

4. Sense & Sensibility: One thing I like about Jane Austen movies is that the set design and costumes are so well done that a movie made in 1995 is nearly indistinguishable from one made in 2019. That’s the case here. For me, however, the plot holds back this movie from being higher on the list. It’s so serious and dire, and there are too many moments where a character could share some crucial piece of information, but instead they just walk away.

3. Emma: We watched the recent adaptation of Emma, and I really enjoyed the humor in it. I really struggled with the main character, though, as her actions make her an incredibly difficult protagonist to root for. I think any good rom com needs a likable lead so that you actually want them to connect with another very likable person. But the disparity in this movie between Emma and her eventual love is too big.

2. Austenland: This is the oddest movie of the bunch, as it follows a modern woman who goes to a Jane Austen themed live-action roleplaying camp (kind of like Westworld, but without the robots). It’s funny and charming and has plenty of Austen-style intrigue and twists, and unlike in Emma, you’ll be rooting for the protagonist throughout the movie. The soundtrack is great, and there are lots of little details in the background that made me chuckle (so many fake animals!).

1. Pride & Prejudice: I’ve seen this movie at least 4 times at this point, and I continue to love it. I discover new elements of it every time I watch, like how Joe Wright’s direction results in extended single-shot scenes in the most difficult of environments (like crowded ballrooms). I love the music, the acting, the romance, and the humor. I also really like the personality of the main character. I’ve heard that the BBC series is excellent, but I like this movie so much that I’m sticking with it. Also, it has Tom from Succession!

What’s your ranking for Jane Austen movies you’ve watched? Am I missing any must-watch films in this genre?

4 thoughts on “How Would You Rank These Jane Austen Movies?”

  1. My wife and I watch a lot of these types of shows and movies. Recently we watched the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice and I must also highly recommend it. It was very well done. Also, if you are wondering about movies/shows of this genre I would highly recommend Downton Abbey and Vanity Fair (both of which I was hesitant to watch but absolutely loved).

    Reply
    • Thanks for the recommendations, Brent! I’ve watched the Downton Abbey movie but not the show. I may have to try it…I’m just not sure my affection for this genre extends past the length of a movie. 🙂

      Reply
  2. We are HUGE Austenland and P&P fans in this household! Charlotte was a little confused by P&P at first because of the formal language, but she caught on quickly and loves it now. And Austenland never fails to make us laugh no matter how many times we watch it. It’s just so silly and delightful.

    Although we watch them pretty regularly throughout the year,(once every few months maybe), I actually have an annual tradition where I play them in the background while I put up the Christmas tree and all my holiday decorations.

    I haven’t watched the newer version of Emma yet, but I wonder if the one from the 90s with Gwyneth Paltrow is any better? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it.

    Reply
    • That’s great! It’s taken me multiple viewings to get used to the language, though it’s a lot easier for me to parse than, say, Shakespeare. Megan likes the original Emma a lot, so I may need to try it for comparison.

      Reply

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