I LOVE period dramas. Mostly because I love late 18th/ 19th/early 20th century novels. Basically it’s my version of the cliché chick flick. When I want to veg and eat some java chip ice cream, what do I reach for? BBC’s Pride and Prejudice, North & South,  Wives and Daughters, or ITV’s Island at War. It’s a serious problem of which I have no intention of fixing. So, in honor of the new Jane Eyre movie (which I saw the Saturday and enjoyed for the most part), here’s  Part I of my top 20 period mini-series and movies.

20. Memphis Belle (1990): I am total sucker for WWI & II movies. I am also a total sucker for “man club” movies. I think because male socialization is utterly odd to me. This movie, featuring Harry Connick Jr. as a sweet-talking Southerner and Sean Astin pre-Samwise days, is a keeper.

19. Lion in Winter (1968): Katherine Hepburn is FIERCE. Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine, EVEN FIERCER. It has a lot of dialogue, so you have to pay attention (if you aren’t used to these types of movies) but the chemistry between Katherine and Peter O’Toole (Henry II) is amazing. You really get a sense of a deep affection twisted and doomed to hatred. WIN.

photo courtesy of gonemovies.com

18. Elizabeth (1998) & Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007): Elizabeth I was my childhood heroine. She was so tough and independent yet a complete fashionista.  I love Cate Blanchett, her voice is what I imagine Queen Bess’ to have been like.

I may or may not have an absolute OBSESSION with Kate Beaton and Elizabeth.

17. Passchendaele (2008): Say what you will about Canadian films, this one is fantastic. A WWI film that made me cry, it perhaps is a bit cliché in parts, but overall the film is heartrendingly beautiful.

It is not like this.

16. O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000): Ah, the South–I miss it so. This style of story telling, conversation and social interactions are what I miss most. Plus, it’s an awesome musical–I love spirituals, gospels, and anything bluegrass-like. Also George Clooney.

Watch the trailer here.

15. Miss Austen Regrets (2008): The first of the many Austen-related selections on this list. I can’t help it, I wish she was my best friend in real life, now. This is a dramatization of Austen’s later life, as her writing career had made her moderately famous, but not rich or married (OH NOES). It focuses on her and her niece’s relationship and Austen’s relationship with her own work. It’s quite sad, to be honest, but still very very good.

14. Little Dorrit (2008): One of the only Dickens selections you will ever find on any list of mine. I am not a fan of Dahl’s Chickens, to be honest. But Little Dorrit has an amazing female lead (Claire Foy) and male lead (Matthew Macfadyen), and both of their characters aren’t manipulative, shallow, or too easily persuaded and pushed around. It’s a love story, which helps, but it’s so painfully drawn out, you fear it will never end well.

13. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008): It’s the late 1930s London and things are heating up in Europe. How about an old-fashioned comedy, featuring Amy Adams, Lee Pace and Frances McDormand, and Ciarán Hinds? If you don’t say yes to love pentagons (?), 1930s lingerie, swanky nightclubs, and snappy suits, we can’t be friends anymore.

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Photo from amazon.com

12. Island at War (2004): Another WWII selection. Don’t judge. An ITV mini-series about the experiences of the UK citizens of the Channel Islands, who were occupied by the Germans for almost the entirety of war. It’s an interesting idea, to postulate what the interactions between British citizens and Nazi soldiers would have been like. Island at War humanizes both sides, as many soldiers in the German army weren’t necessarily Nazis, nor were all UK citizens hyper-patriotic robots.

11. Cranford Seasons 1-2 & Return to Cranford (2007 & 2009): A BBC mini-series about the happenings of a small village in England named Cranford. It is absolutely hilarious the hijinks and drama that occurs among the women and men of Cranford. It just goes to show you that the women of the 19th century were not as suppressed or voiceless as one might assume–they are just as capable of influencing the fate of their village as the men are, sometimes even more!

photos courtesy of pbs.org  & popmatters.com

The rest of my list next week! Happy Viewing!

All comics courtesy of Kate Beaton’s comic Hark! A Vagrant.

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