The Best Period Dramas

by hannahbarran | created - 04 Sep 2013 | updated - 12 Sep 2013 | Public

From TV shows to Films, these are the best depictions of all eras throughout history.

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1. Pride and Prejudice (1995)

TV-PG | 327 min | Drama, Romance

While the arrival of wealthy gentlemen sends her marriage-minded mother into a frenzy, willful and opinionated Elizabeth Bennet matches wits with haughty Mr. Darcy.

Stars: Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Susannah Harker, Julia Sawalha

Votes: 71,521

2. Persuasion (2007 TV Movie)

93 min | Drama, Romance

Royal Navy captain Wentworth was haughtily turned down eight years ago as suitor of pompous baronet Sir Walter Elliot's daughter Anne, despite true love. Now he visits their former seaside ... See full summary »

Director: Adrian Shergold | Stars: Sally Hawkins, Alice Krige, Anthony Head, Julia Davis

Votes: 13,406

3. North & South (2004)

TV-PG | 235 min | Drama, Romance

North and South is a four part adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's love story of Margaret Hale, a middle class southerner who is forced to move to the northern town of Milton.

Stars: Daniela Denby-Ashe, Richard Armitage, Tim Pigott-Smith, Sinéad Cusack

Votes: 28,426

4. Sense and Sensibility (1995)

PG | 136 min | Drama, Romance

84 Metascore

Rich Mr. Dashwood dies, leaving his second wife and her three daughters poor by the rules of inheritance. The two eldest daughters are the title opposites.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, James Fleet, Tom Wilkinson

Votes: 96,824 | Gross: $43.18M

5. Jane Eyre (2006)

TV-PG | 230 min | Drama, Romance

A young governess falls in love with her brooding and complex master. However, his dark past may destroy their relationship forever.

Stars: Ruth Wilson, Toby Stephens, Lorraine Ashbourne, Aidan McArdle

Votes: 18,550

6. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 142 min | Action, Drama, Romance

During the French Revolution, a mysterious English nobleman known only as The Scarlet Pimpernel (a humble wayside flower), snatches French aristos from the jaws of the guillotine, while ... See full summary »

Director: Clive Donner | Stars: Anthony Andrews, Jane Seymour, Ian McKellen, James Villiers

Votes: 4,126

7. The Paradise (2012–2013)

60 min | Drama

The story of a young woman who works in a department store and gets caught up in the charms of the modern world.

Stars: Joanna Vanderham, Emun Elliott, Stephen Wight, Sonya Cassidy

Votes: 9,967

8. Emma (2009)

240 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

Emma Woodhouse (Romola Garai) seems to be perfectly content, to have a loving father for whom she cares, friends, and a home. But Emma has a terrible habit, matchmaking. She cannot resist ... See full summary »

Stars: Romola Garai, Michael Gambon, Jonny Lee Miller, Jodhi May

Votes: 14,302

9. A Room with a View (1985)

Not Rated | 117 min | Drama, Romance

80 Metascore

In a Florence pensione circa 1900 with English guests, George Emerson (Julian Sands) and his dad (Denholm Elliott) offer their rooms with views to Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham Carter) and her chaperone, Charlotte Bartlett (Dame Maggie Smith). Lucy and George get acquainted, but Lucy returns to England. George and Lucy meet again, but now she's engaged.

Director: James Ivory | Stars: Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham Carter, Denholm Elliott, Julian Sands

Votes: 37,455 | Gross: $20.97M

10. The Young Victoria (2009)

PG | 105 min | Biography, Drama, History

64 Metascore

A dramatization of the turbulent first years of Queen Victoria's rule, and her enduring romance with Prince Albert.

Director: Jean-Marc Vallée | Stars: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson

Votes: 55,657 | Gross: $11.00M

11. Gosford Park (2001)

R | 131 min | Comedy, Drama, Mystery

90 Metascore

The lives of upstairs guests and downstairs servants at a party in 1932 in a country house in England as they investigate a murder involving one of them.

Director: Robert Altman | Stars: Maggie Smith, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Gambon, Kristin Scott Thomas

Votes: 76,738 | Gross: $41.31M

12. The Abduction Club (2002)

96 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

A group of Irish noblemen kidnap girls in order to marry into their fortune and avoid becoming priests or soldiers.

Director: Stefan Schwartz | Stars: Alice Evans, Daniel Lapaine, Sophia Myles, Matthew Rhys

Votes: 1,643

13. Charlotte Gray (2001)

PG-13 | 121 min | Drama, Romance, Thriller

48 Metascore

A young Scottish woman joins the French Resistance during World War II to rescue her Royal Air Force boyfriend who is lost in France.

Director: Gillian Armstrong | Stars: Cate Blanchett, James Fleet, Abigail Cruttenden, Charlotte McDougall

Votes: 10,335 | Gross: $0.67M

14. St. Ives (1998)

R | 90 min | Drama, Romance

In 1813, Capitaine Jacques St. Ives, a Hussar in the Napoleonic wars, is captured and sent to a Scottish prison camp. He's a swashbuckler, so the prison's commander, Major Farquar ... See full summary »

Director: Harry Hook | Stars: Jean-Marc Barr, Miranda Richardson, Richard E. Grant, Anna Friel

Votes: 724

15. Northanger Abbey (2007 TV Movie)

PG | 84 min | Drama, Romance

A young woman's penchant for sensational Gothic novels leads to misunderstandings in the matters of the heart.

Director: Jon Jones | Stars: Geraldine James, Michael Judd, Julia Dearden, Gerry O'Brien

Votes: 13,038

16. A Hazard of Hearts (1987 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama, Romance

When compulsive gambler Sir Giles Staverley (Christopher Plummer) has lost his estate and all of his money playing dice, he realizes that he only has one thing left of value: his daughter ... See full summary »

Director: John Hough | Stars: Diana Rigg, Edward Fox, Helena Bonham Carter, Fiona Fullerton

Votes: 1,085

17. Duel of Hearts (1991 TV Movie)

Not Rated | 95 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

Lady Caroline Faye (Alison Doody) meets Lord Vane Brecon (Benedict Taylor) and is attracted to him. When she finds out that he is being accused of a murder he did not commit, she sets out ... See full summary »

Director: John Hough | Stars: Alison Doody, Michael York, Geraldine Chaplin, Benedict Taylor

Votes: 310

18. Enigma (2001)

R | 119 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

64 Metascore

A young genius frantically races against time to crack an enemy code and solve the mystery surrounding the woman he loves.

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Saffron Burrows, Jeremy Northam

Votes: 19,581 | Gross: $4.30M

19. Downton Abbey (2010–2015)

TV-PG | 58 min | Drama, Romance

A chronicle of the lives of the British aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the early twentieth century.

Stars: Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Brendan Coyle

Votes: 152,286

20. Little Women (1994)

PG | 115 min | Drama, Family, Romance

87 Metascore

The March sisters live and grow in post-Civil War America.

Director: Gillian Armstrong | Stars: Susan Sarandon, Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes

Votes: 48,406 | Gross: $50.08M

21. Miss Potter (2006)

PG | 88 min | Biography, Drama

57 Metascore

The story of Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children's book, "The Tale of Peter Rabbit", and her struggle for love, happiness, and success.

Director: Chris Noonan | Stars: Renée Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson, Barbara Flynn

Votes: 27,216 | Gross: $2.98M

22. Our Mutual Friend (1998– )

350 min | Drama

Intertwining tales of love, greed, and secret identities in Charles Dickens's 1860s London.

Stars: Paul McGann, Keeley Hawes, Dominic Mafham, David Bradley

Votes: 2,176

23. The Illusionist (2006)

PG-13 | 110 min | Drama, Fantasy, History

68 Metascore

In turn-of-the-century Vienna, a magician uses his abilities to secure the love of a woman far above his social standing.

Director: Neil Burger | Stars: Edward Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, Rufus Sewell

Votes: 345,170 | Gross: $39.87M

24. Cranford (2007–2010)

TV-PG | 469 min | Drama

In the 1840s, Cranford is ruled by the ladies. They adore good gossip, and romance and change is in the air, as the unwelcome grasp of the Industrial Revolution rapidly approaches their beloved rural market-town.

Stars: Judi Dench, Julia McKenzie, Imelda Staunton, Lisa Dillon

Votes: 8,169

25. Upstairs Downstairs (2010–2012)

60 min | Drama

A new family and their servants live at the London townhouse at 165 Eaton Place in 1936.

Stars: Keeley Hawes, Ed Stoppard, Adrian Scarborough, Neil Jackson

Votes: 5,228

26. Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

PG-13 | 121 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

66 Metascore

The Brothers Grimm arrive at the home of a wealthy Grande Dame who speaks of the many legends surrounding the fable of the cinder girl before telling the "true" story of her ancestor.

Director: Andy Tennant | Stars: Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Huston, Dougray Scott, Patrick Godfrey

Votes: 66,791 | Gross: $65.71M

27. Mansfield Park (2007 TV Movie)

TV-PG | 88 min | Drama

At age 10, Fanny Price is sent by her destitute mother to live with her aunt and uncle, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. As a child she was often made to feel that she was the poor relation but... See full summary »

Director: Iain B. MacDonald | Stars: Julia Joyce, Douglas Hodge, Maggie O'Neill, Tara Berwin

Votes: 6,444

28. Lark Rise to Candleford (2008–2011)

TV-PG | 53 min | Drama, Romance

An adaptation of Flora Thompson's autobiographical novel "Lark Rise To Candleford", set in 19 century Oxfordshire, in which a young girl moves to the local market town to begin an apprenticeship as a postmistress.

Stars: Olivia Hallinan, Sarah Lancashire, Julia Sawalha, Fergus Drysdale

Votes: 6,108

29. Tess of the D'Urbervilles (2008)

TV-PG | 240 min | Drama, Romance

The story of Tess Durbeyfield, a low-born country girl whose family find they have noble connections.

Stars: Gemma Arterton, Eddie Redmayne, Ruth Jones, Hans Matheson

Votes: 5,483

30. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

R | 122 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

85 Metascore

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet Agent within MI6.

Director: Tomas Alfredson | Stars: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong

Votes: 180,038 | Gross: $24.15M

31. The Patriot (2000)

R | 165 min | Action, Drama, History

63 Metascore

Peaceful farmer Benjamin Martin is driven to lead the Colonial Militia during the American Revolution when a sadistic British officer murders his son.

Director: Roland Emmerich | Stars: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson, Jason Isaacs

Votes: 245,278 | Gross: $113.33M

32. Firelight (1997)

R | 103 min | Romance, Drama

In 1838, lovely governess Elisabeth agrees to bear a child of anonymous English landowner, and he will in return pay her father's debt. At birth she, as agreed, gives up the child. Seven ... See full summary »

Director: William Nicholson | Stars: Sophie Marceau, Stephen Dillane, Dominique Belcourt, Kevin Anderson

Votes: 3,968 | Gross: $0.78M

33. Little Dorrit (2008)

420 min | Drama, Mystery, Romance

This mini-series tells the story of Amy Dorrit, who spends her days earning money for the family and looking after her proud father, who is a long term inmate of Marshalsea debtors' prison ... See full summary »

Stars: Claire Foy, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Courtenay, Judy Parfitt

Votes: 8,104

34. Mr Selfridge (2013–2016)

TV-14 | 45 min | Drama

Centers on the real-life story of the flamboyant and visionary American founder of Selfridge's, London's department store.

Stars: Ron Cook, Jeremy Piven, Tom Goodman-Hill, Amy Beth Hayes

Votes: 13,577

35. Wives and Daughters (1999– )

TV-PG | 301 min | Drama

The daughter of a country doctor copes with an unwanted stepmother, an impetuous stepsister, burdensome secrets, the town gossips, and the tug on her own heartstrings for a man who thinks of her only as a friend.

Stars: Francesca Annis, Justine Waddell, Bill Paterson, Keeley Hawes

Votes: 6,407

36. Amazing Grace (2006)

PG | 118 min | Biography, Drama, History

65 Metascore

The idealist William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd) maneuvers his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade.

Director: Michael Apted | Stars: Ioan Gruffudd, Albert Finney, Michael Gambon, Romola Garai

Votes: 23,363 | Gross: $21.21M

37. The Duchess (2008)

PG-13 | 110 min | Biography, Drama, History

62 Metascore

A chronicle of the life of 18th-century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

Director: Saul Dibb | Stars: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper, Charlotte Rampling

Votes: 75,363 | Gross: $13.82M

38. Shakespeare in Love (1998)

R | 123 min | Comedy, Drama, History

87 Metascore

The world's greatest ever playwright, William Shakespeare, is young, out of ideas and short of cash, but meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

Director: John Madden | Stars: Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Fiennes, Geoffrey Rush, Tom Wilkinson

Votes: 207,631 | Gross: $100.32M

39. The Importance of Being Earnest (2002)

PG | 97 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

60 Metascore

In 1890s London, two friends use the same pseudonym ("Ernest") for their on-the-sly activities. Hilarity ensues.

Director: Oliver Parker | Stars: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Frances O'Connor, Reese Witherspoon

Votes: 21,506 | Gross: $8.38M

40. The Man in the Iron Mask (I) (1998)

PG-13 | 132 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

48 Metascore

The cruel King Louis XIV of France has a secret twin brother whom he keeps imprisoned. Can the twin be substituted for the real king?

Director: Randall Wallace | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gérard Depardieu

Votes: 151,171 | Gross: $56.97M

41. Bleak House (2005)

TV-PG | 510 min | Drama

A suspenseful tale about the injustices of the 19th Century English legal system.

Stars: Anna Maxwell Martin, Denis Lawson, Carey Mulligan, Gillian Anderson

Votes: 8,239

42. Highlander (1986)

R | 116 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy

24 Metascore

An immortal Scottish swordsman must confront the last of his immortal opponent, a murderously brutal barbarian who lusts for the fabled "Prize".

Director: Russell Mulcahy | Stars: Christopher Lambert, Sean Connery, Clancy Brown, Roxanne Hart

Votes: 116,849 | Gross: $5.90M

43. An Ideal Husband (I) (1999)

PG-13 | 97 min | Comedy, Romance

67 Metascore

London 1895: Cabinet minister, Sir Chiltern, and bachelor, Lord Goring, are victims of scheming women.

Director: Oliver Parker | Stars: Rupert Everett, Julianne Moore, Peter Vaughan, Minnie Driver

Votes: 14,776 | Gross: $18.54M

44. King Arthur (2004)

PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

46 Metascore

A demystified take on the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Director: Antoine Fuqua | Stars: Clive Owen, Stephen Dillane, Keira Knightley, Ioan Gruffudd

Votes: 155,649 | Gross: $51.88M

45. The Remains of the Day (1993)

PG | 134 min | Drama, Romance

84 Metascore

A butler who sacrificed body and soul to service in the years leading up to World War II realizes too late how misguided his loyalty was to his lordly employer.

Director: James Ivory | Stars: Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, John Haycraft, Christopher Reeve

Votes: 61,387 | Gross: $22.95M

46. Lost in Austen (2008)

TV-14 | 180 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance