There’s nothing better than welcoming in the spring season with a romantic period drama that will either make you cry, laugh, or do a little bit of both. If you’re in need of some me-time or a study break, open up your laptop and watch (mostly) British people from the (mostly) 19th century fall in love!
1. Pride And Prejudice (2005)
Although this one is a storied favorite, there’s nothing like watching it for the first time. From the beautiful Regency set and costume design, riveting score, and Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen’s turns as the iconic Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, there is something for everyone to love in this Joe Wright masterpiece. Also, for bookworms like myself, this adaptation holds mostly true to the book with few major deviations in plot. For any hopeless romantics reading this, though, grab a box of tissues for the ending. If you have an HBO Max subscription, run (don’t walk) to watch this classic! If not, you can always catch it on Hulu or rent it for $2.99-$3.99 from streaming services such as Vudu and Amazon Prime Video.
2. Emma (2020)
The second in a series of Jane Austen film adaptations, 2020’s Emma features a standout performance from Anya Taylor-Joy as the beautiful, headstrong, and sometimes snobbish Emma Woodhouse as she navigates love, friendship, and independence in Regency England. Mia Goth’s performance as the naive but lovable Harriet Smith and Johnny Flynn’s rendition of the wise and handsome Mr. Knightley are also noteworthy. Emma rivals Pride and Prejudice in its colorful and intricate costume design, eye-catching 19th century set, and soundtrack that features not only classical music but traditional British folk (including a song titled “Queen Bee” sang by none other than Johnny Flynn himself). Unfortunately, this film will set you back $3.99 to rent from streaming services such as Apple TV and Prime Video for the moment; however, keep an eye on HBO Max, as the movie makes appearances on the streaming service fairly often.
3. The Favourite (2018)
By far the most avant-garde film on this list, Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite chronicles the battle between two of Queen Anne’s ladies-in-waiting for her affection and power. Olivia Colman perfectly channels the ire and frustration of the Queen in the twilight of her reign, and Rachel Weisz’s Sarah Churchill serves as the more aged, levelheaded adversary to Emma Stone’s young and overzealous Abigail Masham. While this is not exactly an LGBTQ+ love story, it is an interesting look at female sexuality and the politics of sex in an early-18th-century context. Unlike many others on this list, thankfully, this film is far more likely to provoke a laugh than a crying session. However, like Emma, this movie is currently only available for rent for $3.99 on Prime and Apple TV. Nonetheless, it’s an eclectic pick that spices up anyone’s streaming session.
P.S.: If there are Swifties reading this that I haven’t convinced, Joe Alwyn has a role as a male love interest.
4. a room with a view (1985)
The first film on this list to hail from the 20th century, A Room with a View by director James Ivory transports E.M. Forster’s 1908 novel to the big screen. Helena Bonham Carter stars as the ethereal beauty Lucy Honeychurch, who is caught between her straight-laced but wealthy fiancé Cecil Vyse (Daniel Day-Lewis) and the passionate, handsome George Emerson (Julian Sands). The film provides a glimpse into the conflict between love and social rank in the early 20th century amidst a backdrop of a beautiful Italian summer. This movie will leave you feeling warm, fuzzy, and maybe in need of a summer vacation to Florence or the English countryside. You can find A Room with a View on HBO Max, Hulu, Prime Video, and Showtime for free with a subscription or for $2.99 on Vudu and YouTube.
5. The Age of Innocence (1993)
Last but certainly not least, we have Martin Scorsese’s 1993 adaptation of the classic 1920 Edith Wharton novel. Daniel Day-Lewis once again makes an appearance in this film, but this time he plays the lead as the intelligent, handsome, and conflicted Newland Archer. As he tries to solidify himself in New York high society in the late 19th century by marrying the wealthy, young, and beautiful May Welland (Winona Ryder), he finds himself increasingly attracted to the older, divorced heiress Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer). As time rages on, he can no longer control his feelings for Olenska and feels torn between a life of true love or a life of wealth and respectability. For anyone who is acquainted with Scorsese’s usual repertoire of films, don’t worry — this is a far cry from his usual crime flick. You can find The Age of Innocence on The Roku Channel or Prime Video with a subscription or for $2.99 on Vudu.
Curl up with some popcorn, give yourself a break, and treat yourself to any of these fantastic dramas. Happy watching!