Sometimes, you just need a girls’ movie night. My sisters and I love to throw them as a small celebration, a de-stressing evening, or just because. Sometimes we’ll try something new, but there’s something special about our classic favorites.
These 8 (technically 9) period dramas are the ones that we watch again and again, the ones that bring back nostalgic memories of hot chocolate and popcorn, rainy days and cozy nights, having friends over or banishing our brothers from the living room (okay, we usually let them pop in if they wanted to… but they didn’t usually stay long ;P) for our girls’ movie night. These are the movies that I’m slowly working on adding to my own personal collection (so if anyone needs a birthday present idea for me… just kidding! ;P) because I love them so much.
Disclaimer: there are a few scenes in some of these that are probably best skipped, especially if younger girls are watching. I would recommend watching these with girls aged 18+ before allowing younger girls to watch so that you can decide if they’re suitable or which scenes should be skipped. Some of these movies have some rather disturbing scenes as well.
#1 – Pride and Prejudice (1995)
I’m sorry, but Matthew MacFayden and Keira Knightley just aren’t Mr. Darcy and Lizzy. I’m not going to go into all the reasons why I don’t love the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice, but I will say this. I had watched the 2005 movie multiple times and had only seen parts of the 1995 miniseries before I ever read the book. Despite that, when I read the book, my mind automatically pictured the characters and scenes as depicted in the Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle version. If you don’t plan to stay up till all hours in order to fit in the 8 hours the 1995 miniseries takes, you could watch the 2 hour 2005 version. But I highly recommend taking the time–even if you have to break it into one episode a day–to watch BBC’s excellent and timeless portrayal of Jane Austen’s much-loved classic.
This is the movie that I can fall asleep in the middle of and wake up an hour or two later and not feel like I’ve missed anything, because I know it so well. Once when I was sick, I actually slept through most of it… but woke up at all of my favorite parts.
#2 – Dr. Thorne (2016)
Produced by the same man who did Downton Abbey, this newer miniseries is a sparkling combination of laughable moments, a few rather despicable characters, a shadow around the heroine’s birth, and heart-melting relationships. Seriously, the relationship between Dr. Thorne and his niece Mary is so very, very super sweet. And despite some family friction, the hero is such a loyal brother that it makes my sister-heart so happy. 🙂 There are a few somewhat disturbing scenes in this one. But guess what? This is one that is free to watch on Amazon Prime right now!
If you can’t tell, I love, love, love this one. I watched it twice in a row one weekend, no joke, and it’s just as good each time. We all love this one, and even our guys like it!
#3 – North and South (2004)
BBC does it again! Elizabeth Gaskell is another favorite classic author of mine, right after Jane Austen. Another 4-hour miniseries (again, because it follows the book so well), this one is a little darker than most of Austen’s. If you’re going for a lighthearted evening, this is not one to watch. But despite the grayness of the northern mill town and the seriousness of the story, it is very much worth watching. Definitely add it to your to-be-watched list. It is SO good. And the soundtrack… *sighs blissfully*
For some reason, this is usually one that we’ll pick when I have a deadline with getting signs made for Par la Grace and we have to stay up late to work. And a plus: the guys like it too!
#4 – Emma (2009)
I have fond memories of the Gwyneth Paltrow version of Emma, but this is by far the best, in my opinion. It follows the book almost exactly, and the characters are dreamy (who doesn’t love Mr. Knightley anyway??). Ramola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller do an amazing job as Emma and Mr. Knightley, and the other characters are just as good (and Frank Churchill is infinitely better than in the other version… *shudder*).
When we want to watch a Jane Austen but don’t have quite as much time–as in only four hours instead of eight hours–this is usually the one we choose.
#5 – Persuasion (1995)
I haven’t watched the 2007 version of this often-overlooked Jane Austen yet, so I can’t say if I like it better or worse. But I do love this version. Anne is so sweet, and a sort of Cinderella character (and who doesn’t love a good Cinderella story?). I actually like Persuasion as a story better than Emma, but the actors in this version aren’t all my favorite, which is why this one is underneath Emma on my list. This is an actual movie, being only an hour and 45 minutes long, so if you want a shorter Jane Austen, this is a good one to choose. The newer one is also regular movie length, and I’ve heard good things about it and definitely want to watch it, so add that one to your list, too.
This is my personal favorite Jane Austen story (well, it’s tied with Pride and Prejudice). It’s such a sweet story, and I love seeing Captain Wentworth and Anne renew their relationship.
#6 – Wives and Daughters (1999)
Another miniseries based on an Elizabeth Gaskell book, Wives and Daughters is definitely lighter than North and South. It can be a little slow-moving at times, but it’s a sweet story. This is one of the longer ones, being almost 5 hours. The relationships are super sweet in this one, as well.
Some of my sisters don’t like this one as much, but I love it. It was one of the first period dramas I was allowed to watch, and much of my first afghan was crocheted during the evenings we watched this.
#7 – Sense and Sensibility (2008)
This newer version of Sense and Sensibility is soo much better than the 1995 one. For starters, I never wanted to read the book and didn’t realize that Eleanor was only supposed to be 19 until I watched this miniseries. It follows the book remarkably well, and the characters are all so much better than in the old movie. And it’s only 3 hours long! I do have to warn you that the first scene is horrible and absolutely needs to be skipped.
This one is also free to watch with your Prime membership!
#8 – Anne of Green Gables (1985) and Sequel (1987)
Megan Follows is the classic Anne. And Gil is just the best. Don’t tell anyone, but I may actually like him better than all the other period drama heroes. 😀 I haven’t watched any of the other versions of Anne of Green Gables, but this one is and always will be the classic Anne that everyone loves.
We literally had “Anne of Green Gables days” growing up. You know those days (usually rainy) when you don’t feel like doing anything at all? I mean, like no one in the family. At all. They didn’t come very often for us, but on those days, Mom would decide to cancel school and we would watch these two movies back to back, usually while folding the laundry.
So there you are, girls. Some of our favorite period dramas, perfect for a girls’ movie night! Comment below and share which ones you’ve watched and which period dramas are your favorites. Maybe you’ve watched one that I haven’t! I definitely want to hear about it so that I can try it out, too. 🙂 I may have missed one or two that we love, too, but these are the ones that immediately came to mind.
Now I want to have a girls’ movie night. Anyone want to come? ;P