10 Things to Watch While Waiting for Downton Abbey's Return
Courtesy of Carnival Films and Masterpiece
Downton Abbey withdrawal? We feel you. While this show's U.K. fans have already enjoyed season five across the pond, we American Anglophiles await its January 5 return to PBS Masterpiece Theater.
In between practicing our British accents and convincing ourselves that Matthew Crawley is simply taking a post-crash nap, we've put together a list of the 10 miniseries and movies to curb your Downton Abbey cravings.
See also: 9 Best Holiday Movies from the 1990s
Pride and Prejudice and Pride and Prejudice BBC Obviously there's more than one Pride and Prejudice film adaptation out there, and depending on the depth of your love affair with Jane Austen, the BBC, or Colin Firth, you will most likely prefer one over another. For the die-hard Anglophile, it's BBC's 1995 Pride and Prejudice miniseries, which has a run-time of five hours. But for Hollywood latecomers, the glossy (and glossed over) Focus Films Production starring Keira Knightly is an easier sell -- plus it's only two hours long.
Sense and Sensibility Not surprisingly, there's more than one Jane Austen film adaptation on this list. Sense and Sensibility stars all the usual British suspects, including Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman (a.k.a Professor Snape). This Oscar-nominated film directed by Ang Lee follows the story of two sisters who are complete opposites but share one thing in common: They just can't catch a break.
Mansfield Park Despite her unfortunate name, Fanny Price is basically the girl next door meets Daria in early 17th century England. A quick-witted, well-read Cinderella type moves at a young age to live with her wealthy aunt, uncle, and cousins -- two of which are pretty much the equivalent of ugly step-sisters. Although it's not the best of Jane Austen's books, the film has plenty to offer, including a very young, very shy Johnny Lee Miller.
The Young Victoria Long before there was Royal Prince George, and Queen Elizabeth II for that matter, there was Queen Victoria. Young Victoria tells the story of the longest ruling British monarch in history by starting from the very beginning. It stars the dynamic Emily Blunt as well as familiar faces like Rupert Friend and Paul Bettany.
Gosford Park Gosford Park is a British mystery set in the 1930s that errs on the goofy side. It's got similar ingredients to Downton Abbey: dinner parties, serving staff, and in-house gossip. But all that's served up without the serious undertones or strong character dimension. In other words, it's the poor man's Downton with a side of whodunnit.
North and South If you're a fan of star-crossed lovers and dramatic over-the-shoulder glances, you'll probably love North and South. Based on the book by Elizabeth Gaskell, this BBC miniseries tells the story of two people from very different backgrounds. Margaret Hale is from the rural South, and John Thornton's from the industrialized North. BBC's 2004 adaptation is broken up into four episodes.
Forsyte Saga No, you're eyes aren't deceiving you. That is definitely a pre-Homeland Damian Lewis. The Forsyte Saga follows three generations of an upper-middle-class family, the Forsytes, in Victorian England. It's based on the three books by John Galsworthy and was released in two parts by the BBC in 2002 and 2003.
Jane Eyre This Charlotte Brontë classic has seen its fair share of the big screen, but its most recent production is easily our favorite. This 2011 version stars the attractive and very well casted Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. It's the story of a handsome wealthy man in love with his plain but well-educated governess. And it's basically the story Lady Edith Crawley wishes would be her life.
Bleak House Charles Dickens' Bleak House was meant for television. The 1852 novel, which was published in 20 monthly installments, tells the story of the unjust legal system in Victorian England through the struggles of Esther Summerson and the many characters she encounters. The most recent miniseries distributed by the BBC in 2005 stars two of our favorite leading U.K. actress: Carey Mulligan and Miss-yes-I-have-a-life-after-X-Files Gillian Anderson.
Cranford You had us at Judi Dench. This 2007 BBC miniseries has it all: girl power, gossip, romance, and, of course, the daunting arrival of the industrial revolution in a rural Northwest England village. Cranford is based off of Elizabeth Gaskell's three novellas: Cranford, My Lady Ludlow, and Mr Harrison's Confessions.
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