1. North and South (2004) – This movie has the best ending EVER! I seriously cried buckets (the good kind) the first time I saw the end of this movie. It has some great moments and I don’t see how anyone can not be affected watching John Thornton say “Look back at me.” After I saw this movie, Mr. Thornton became the number one gentleman for me, and it’s hard to top Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy. It’s not all about Mr. Thornton though. Nicholas Higgins and Mrs. Thornton are excellent characters as well. And the contrast between the north and south and rich and poor is well done. As a plus, this movie has some really beautiful theme music.
2. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) – Oh, Miss Pettigrew! This is such a feel good movie for me. One crazy day and a down on her luck governess has her life changed forever. I never tire of this movie. Francis McDormand does an awesome job as Miss Pettigrew.
3. The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) – Yes, I know they butchered the book here. I enjoyed the book but I think if you can forget about it and just pretend the characters share names and a few similarities, you can enjoy the movie. I think it’s fantastically entertaining and full of betrayal, loss, love, and redemption. And I really like the happy ending.
4. Persuasion (1995) – This one stars Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds (although I do like the 2007 version too). Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. I love Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth and I like this adaptation of the novel. I like the way Anne has learned her own mind and tries to be a good daughter and friend but at the same time won’t give up her second chance for happiness. Ciarán Hinds may not be the most handsome man, but I think he’s a great actor and a great Captain Wentworth. And it contains what I think is one of the most romantic letters ever written.
5. Pride and Prejudice (1995) – This was probably the first period movie I ever saw and loved. Until I saw North and South, Mr. Darcy was THE MAN. The scene where Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth stare at each other across the room is classic. As is the wet shirt scene. J
6. Cold Comfort Farm (1995) – I love the Starkadders. “There’ll be no butter in hell!” has got to be one of the best lines ever, but there are a bunch of great lines in this movie. A house full of eccentric and crazy people is my kind of house. There are some great performances in this one, especially Amos, Judith, and Seth, and I love watching Flora make them all neat and tidy.Interestingly enough, all of these movies were based off books and I have read every one of them except for North and South. I own the book, so I need to get around to reading it one day soon.
Some runners up:
Wives and Daughters (1999) – subtract major points for no kiss at the end, but the rest is quite good.
Northanger Abbey (2007) – this seems to be JA’s least well liked book, but I liked it and think the movie is charming and one day I will read The Mysteries of Udolpho.
Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998) – Drew Barrymore isn’t my favorite for Cinderella, but I do love that her character is strong and knows her own mind.
Twelfth Night (1996) – Helena Bonham Carter is great in anything she does and it’s easy to understand even with the Shakespeare.
The Princess Bride (1987) and Stardust (2007) – not sure if these last 2 are really period movies, but again they are both great romantic, happily ever after movies.