Last month, I was inspired to reread and rewatch some of the works of Austen. And once I got started, I couldn’t stop. Because, well, it’s Austen. And who doesn’t love knowing there’s going to be a happy ending? However, when it comes to adaptations they are not always guaranteed (as well we know). Which is why I decided to rank these- hopefully if you follow this list you might at least avoid some major disappointment 😉
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, since I haven’t watched all the movies and tv series (there’s A LOT!) And I decided that while Mansfield Park is a good adaptation, I’d leave it off this list, since my view will be coloured by the fact I don’t like it much as a story.
Anyhoo, let’s get onto the rankings, shall we?
#13 Persuasion 2022– they didn’t even try with this one. As I discussed in my review it was NOTHING like the original. And it was boring to boot. So yeah, not much of an adaptation.
#12 Sense and Sensibility 1995– *unpopular opinion* I really didn’t like this movie. It just doesn’t capture the magic of the book for me and feels more like lots of other soapy shmultzy Hollywood romances. I must be one of the only people to think this way (given all the accolades its received) but it feels disconnected to the source material for me. Particularly with regard to the casting for the sisters.
#11 Clueless– it’s a great idea… but somehow transposing the story onto Beverley Hills just ruins it for me. I can manage to appreciate Emma in the regency period, but when she’s the modern day equivalent, I find her extremely irritating.
#10 Bridget Jones Diary– I know this isn’t a direct adaptation, but that’s not gonna stop me including it. And unfortunately, simply having Colin Firth is not enough to make me love this movie. I might have been the wrong age for it when it came out and I don’t believe its aged that well.
#9/#8 Persuasion 1995/Persuasion 2007– I’m gonna be lazy and stick these two together. Both of them are fine, but nothing spectacular. WHICH IS WHY WE NEED A GOOD PERSUASION ADAPTATION- GAH!!!
#7 Emma 1996– this is reasonably high simply because I really like the Mr Knightley in this one. It’s nothing special as an adaptation, but I do enjoy watching it.
#6 Emma 2009– I often think the TV versions work better- and this is a good example of that. With plenty of space, there was more of a chance to get the book right. And this version also manages to have quite a bit of passion behind it.
#5 Emma 2020– it’s a shock to me this is so high up the list, considering I didn’t even want to watch it at one point. But this genuinely made me laugh, had *the best* Emma and was a joy to watch. I would’ve even rated it even higher… had it not been for the nosebleed scene.
#4 Pride and Prejudice 2005– gosh this is a very romantic version. It’s not as accurate simply because it’s compressed to fit the run time. But it’s a lovely movie all the same. And Keira Knightley makes an excellent Lizzie Bennet (even if no one could ever believe her plain). Not as sold on Darcy if I’m honest.
#3 Northanger Abbey 2007– this is just such a fun adaptation. I love how they were rather playful with this adaptation- it suits the tone and book so well. It never fails to put me in a good mood and is a pleasure to rewatch.
#2 Sense and Sensibility 2008– not my favourite of the books and yet it ranks so much higher on this list because of how beautifully its done. It brings tears to my eyes every time and captures both the sense and sensibility sides of the story.
#1 Pride and Prejudice 1995– because you simply can’t beat it.
Okay, dare I ask: do you agree or disagree with my ranking? What are your favourite Austen adaptations? And which ones do you dislike? Let me know in the comments!