Top 5 Jane Austen Movie Adaptations, Ranked

An excerpt from the poster for Emma. (2020) featuring (left to right) Callum Turner as Frank Churchhill, Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse, dressed in a mustard yellow dress, and Johnny Flynn as George Knightley, all dressed in early 19th Century attire in front of a painting backdrop of a sky and distant hills with the movie's title, EMMA., layered over top in mustard yellow

If you’re a book lover, you probably already know her name, but you may be surprised just how many movies have either been adapted from or inspired by this literary legend’s work. Her name is Jane Austen, an English novelist from the 18th and 19th Century whose six major works critique and comment on the British landed gentry while exploring women’s dependence on marriage in achieving favorable social standing and economic security.

THE GOLDFINCH—Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novel Adapted for the Silver Screen

Jane Austen’s novels Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816), Northanger Abbey (1817), and Persuasion (1818) continue to prove rich source material for all forms of entertainment, especially feature-length movies. The latest Jane Austen adaptation to be released in theatres, Emma., opens nationwide at Regal on March 6th.

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Anya Taylor-Joy stars as the handsome, clever, and rich Emma Woodhouse, a restless queen bee without rivals in her sleepy little town. Emma must adventure through misguided matches and romantic missteps to find the love that has been there all along. Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, and Mia Goth co-star in this social class satire about the pain of growing up, reimagined from Jane Austen’s beloved comedy about finding your equal and earning your happy ending.

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In anticipation of Emma.’s release on March 6th, we are counting down the top 5 Jane Austen movie adaptations. How many have you seen? What’s your favorite? Let us know on Twitter @RegalMovies.

 

5. MANSFIELD PARK (1999)

Mansfield Park-Nivola and O'Connor
Henry Crawford (played by Alessandro Nivola) and Fanny Price (played by Frances O'Connor) in Mansfield Park (1999)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Starring: Frances O'Connor, Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, Jonny Lee Miller, Harold Pinter, Hugh Bonneville
Directed By: Patricia Rozema
Written By: Jane Austen (novel), Patricia Rozema (written by)

Although adapted from Austen's novel, this 1999 British romanctic comedy departs from its source material in a few significant ways. The life of Jane Austen is incorporated into the movie, as are the issues of slavery and plantation life. 

 

4. PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940)

Pride and Prejudice-Olivier and Garson
Mr. Darcy (Laurence Olivier) and Elizabeth Bennet (Greer Garson) in Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Genre: Drama, Romance
Starring: Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Mary Boland, Edna May Oliver, Maureen O'Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Frieda Inescort, Edmund Gwenn, Karen Morley, Heather Angel, Marsha Hunt
Directed By: Robert Z. Leonard 
Written By: Aldous Huxley (screen play), Jane Murfin (screen play), Jane Austen (novel), Helen Jerome (based upon the dramatization of Jane Austen's novel written by), Victor Heerman (contributor to treatment, uncredited), Sarah Y. Mason (contributor to treatment, uncredited), Tess Slesinger (conributing writer, uncredited), John Van Druten (contributing writer, uncredited) 

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1940 adaptation of Austen's novel of the same name earned an Academy Award® for Best Art Direction, Black and White. The movie is set in a later time period than Austen's novel, however, a decision driven by the studio's desire to feature more elaborate and flamboyant costumes than those worn in Austen's time.

 

3. EMMA (1996)

Emma-Northam and Paltrow
Mr. Knightley (Jeremy Northam) and Emma Woodhouse (Gwyneth Paltrow) in Emma (1996)

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Toni Collette, Alan Cumming, Ewan McGregor, Jeremy Northam, Greta Scacchi, Juliet Stevenson, Polly Walker
Directed By: Douglas McGrath
Written By: Jane Austen (novel), Douglas McGrath (screenplay)

Writer and director Douglas McGrath loved Austen's 1816 novel, Emma, and thought it would make a great movie. Initially, McGrath wanted to write a modern version set in New York City's Upper East Side, but the production of Clueless (1995)—a similar, modern Austen adaptation—changed the filmmaker's plans.

 

2. PRIDE & PREJUDICE (2005)

Pride and Prejudice-2005-Knightley and Macfadyen
Elizabeth Bennet (Keira Knightley) and Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen) in Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Genre: Drama, Romance
Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Donald Sutherland, Rosamund Pike, Tom Hollander, Talulah Riley, Jena Malone, Penelope Wilton, Carey Mulligan, Brenda Blethyn, Judi Dench
Directed By: Joe Wright
Written By: Jane Austen (novel), Deborah Moggach (screenplay)

The 2005 production of Pride & Prejudice marks director Joe Wright's feature debut. Wright encouraged greater deviation from Austen's novel than previously planned by screenwriter Deborah Moggach, who initially attempted to make her script as faithful to the source text as possible. The result is a movie set in an earlier time period that centers on romanticism and realism. Pride & Prejudice earned four Academy Award® nominations.

 

1. SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995)

Sense and Sensibility-Winslet, Jones, François, and Thompson
Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet), Mrs. Dashwood (Gemma Jones), Margaret Dashwood (Emilie François) and Elinor Dashwood (Emma Thompson) in Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Genre: Drama, Romance
Starring: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, James Fleet, Tom Wilkinson
Directed By: Ang Lee
Written By: Jane Austen (novel), Emma Thompson (screenplay)

Producer Lindsay Doran, an admirer of Jane Austen's novel, hired first-time screenwriter Emma Thompson to write a screenplay. Thompson worked on the script for five years, revising numerous drafts even into the production of the movie, and was eventually persuaded to take on the role of Elinor Dashwood herself. Sense and Sensibility earned Thompson an Academy Award® for Best Adapted Screenplay, making her the only person to ever win an Oscar® for both acting and screenwriting. The movie earned a total of seven Academy Award® nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress.

 

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Emma. opens nationwide at Regal this Friday, March 6th. Get your tickets and see where this latest Jane Austen adaptation ranks among the all-time best.

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