It is a truth universally acknowledged that any person who knows what's good for them must be in want of a Jane Austen movie. The timelessness of Austen's characters, the sheer delight of watching Mr. Collins be well-intentioned but totally slimy, and, of course, the many versions of Mr. Darcy (A.K.A. the ultimate standard for brooding dreamboats across the globe) make any adaptation of Austen's beloved "Pride and Prejudice" worthy of watching at least once --though, naturally, some do fall a bit short. Luckily, as a self-professed Austen addict, I have undertaken the difficult and painstaking task of watching all the various adaptations of "Pride and Prejudice" I could find and assembled them here for your entertainment and amusement. So, make yourself a nice cup of tea, put on your finest pair of bloomers, and get ready to find which adaptation (or adaptations, emphasis on the plural -- no one's judging) should be the star of your next "Austen and Chill" session.
Also: I feel the need to mention that there will be some spoilers for the book below, but honestly, it was published over 200 years ago, so if you haven't done yourself a favor and picked it up yet... I don't know what else to tell you.
Honorable Mention: "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries" (LBD)
I realize I may be making some enemies here by not actually ranking LBD in my list, but hear me out: the mode of viewing for this series (comprised of 100 vlog-style episodes on YouTube detailing a quirky, modern adaptation of the classic) is what has led me to leave this particular project out of my official list, because it functions quite differently in comparison to the rest of the films below. The fresh, diverse cast and relatable storylines provide a new take on P&P, so definitely give this series a try -- it is very easy to get sucked in and binge-watch the whole thing in one sitting!
10. "Jane Austen Book Club" (2007)
Strictly speaking, this isn't exactly a P&P adaptation, but this cute little movie not only has a great cast, but also gives a nice introduction to all of Austen's novels, as the main characters' find themselves identifying more and more with the heroine's of each book they're assigned to for the book club. Sure, it's kind of predictable (and a little bit cheesy), but baby Hugh Dancy is a sight to behold, and the charms of the movie make it an absolutely worthy part of any Austen fan's list.
9. "Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy" (2003)
As noted in the title, this particular version of the story is based in modern-day Utah, and includes a bit of the Latter Day Saints (Mormon) culture of Utah within the story. This works not so much as to alienate the casual viewer, but rather incorporate some of the social norms appropriate for the novel's original setting back into this modern take. However, while the adaptation of Austen's original storyline is a bit lacking, the light humor and good casting (particularly that of this film's charming version of Mr. Bingley) gives this movie a fighting chance among the rest of the adaptations, so give it a try if you've never heard of it before (plus, the whole thing is on YouTube, so why not?).
8. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (2016)
The most recent of the P&P adaptations, this film is based on the wildly successful novel written by Seth Grahame-Smith in 2009, and seamlessly weaves Austen's classic tale with, as you may have guessed, hordes of the undead. Matt Smith's playing of Mr. Collins is a definite highlight, the rest of the casting is pretty good as well (though this particular Darcy does take some warming up to, if I'm being honest), and the fight scenes with all the ladies dolled-up in their regency gowns and lace are pretty awesome to watch. While the faithfulness to the original plot is a bit muddled, the dedication to maintaining the absurd mashup of Austen and zombies, combined with lovely cinematography and an excellent soundtrack, makes this film an entertaining and innovative rehashing of the timeless tale.
7. "Unleashing Mr. Darcy" (2016)
Look, I'm gonna be honest here: this movie is kind of garbage. BUT, it's the made-for-TV, Hallmark channel version of P&P kind of garbage, so, to put it politely, you know it won't be winning any awards any time soon. Despite that glowing introduction, if the delectable eye candy that is Mr. Darcy isn't enough to tempt you, perhaps the promise of insanely cute dogs and puppies in nearly every scene of the movie is enough to peak your interest. Seriously. The sub-plot of this modern adaptation revolves around the dog show circuit (hence the groan-worthy title) and loses Austen's original premise at times, but this is exactly the kind of guilty pleasure, ice-cream-straight-from-the-carton P&P movie that, sometimes, is exactly what you need. This movie is best paired with a bunch of friends and a lot of chocolate, though copious amounts of wine is totally optional.
6. "Becoming Jane" (2007)
Again, I must include another non-P&P adaptation, but this inclusion is well deserved, I promise. This biographical take on Austen's own life (particularly her love life, rumored to be the actual inspiration of P&P in the first place) boasts an incredible cast -- filled out by the swoon-worthy Darcy stand-in, played by the delightful James McAvoy -- and a wonderful script that brings life to the author that has inspired so many. This is a must-watch for any Austen fan, and I highly encourage including it within any respectable P&P movie binge.
5. "Bride and Prejudice" (2004)
By far one of the most colorful takes on the P&P legacy, this version of the film relocates Austen's world to India, and includes musical numbers, possibly the best Mr. Collins interpretation of any film on this list, and a wonderful performance by the stunning Aishwarya Rai as the movie's leading lady. But, if that's not enough to convince you to watch this version, perhaps seeing Naveen Andrews (A.K.A. Sayid of "Lost" fame) taking up the role of Bingley and dancing like the best of them in one of the early musical numbers is enough to inspire you.
4. BBC's "Pride & Prejudice" Mini-Series (1995)
What P&P adaptation ranking would this be without including the one that started it all? Despite the fact that this mini-series has a running time of well over five hours (but, to be fair, all the episodes are available on YouTube! In HD!), this is one of the landmark interpretations of Austen's novel that really put the book in the spotlight. Who could forget Colin Firth's classic scene by the lake, cementing his status as what many consider to be the ultimate Mr. Darcy? Completing this series is by no means an easy feat, but for casual viewers and true Austen fans alike, it will definitely be worth your time.
3. "Bridget Jones's Diary" (2001)
Arguably at the top of the aforementioned "guilty pleasure" list of P&P adaptations, this version of the story emphasizes the Darcy-Elizabeth-Wickham love triangle, as performed by Colin Firth, Renée Zellweger, and Hugh Grant, respectively. Both this film and the sequel ("Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," 2004) embody a more playful telling of P&P, and are the perfect, pick-me-up cure for when you're feeling down (or wishing for a Mr. Darcy of your own). Highlights include the infamous fight scene between Firth and Grant, the biting wit peppered throughout the film, and Zellweger's endearingly relatable playing of the title role. A definite must-watch, if ever there was one.
2. "Austenland" (2013)
To tell you the truth, I might be a little biased here, since this is one of my favorite movies of all time (as is #1 on this list, but more on that later). This movie has everything: a wonderful story, a bangin' soundtrack, an even more bangin' Mr. Darcy to flutter your eyelashes at, and the delightfully comedic gift that is Jennifer Coolidge. The rest of the cast is incredible, the ridiculousness of the sets is charming and absolutely heartwarming, and I can say with 100 percent honesty that I have watched this film over 10 times in the last few months alone -- without it ever getting old or boring. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie as soon as humanly possible, you won't regret it (I promise!).
1. "Pride and Prejudice" (2005)
As if this was even up for debate. This masterpiece is not only one of the most faithful adaptations of Austen's legacy, but also offers stunning cinematography, an incredible soundtrack, and performances from a knock-out cast that will leave you with no doubt about this movie being ranked #1. Keira Knightley shines as the inspiring Elizabeth, and Matthew Macfadyen's Darcy will leave you weak at the knees -- seriously, don't even get me started. The scene in the rain, those pants at the end, I could go on and on, but instead, I'll just leave you with this final note: while I highly encourage you to watch all of the films on this list (especially those nearer the top of the ranking), if you find yourself only able to manage one "Pride and Prejudice" retelling, it's gotta be this one.
Now that the ranking is done, go forth and Austen! If your own list looks differently from mine, I'd love to hear about it, but give these films a try and I guarantee you're bound to find a new favorite (I can't stress the importance of #2 enough! It's such an underrated classic!). Even though these films may be very different from one another, the ideas and charms of Austen's original work absolutely stand the test of time, and if you're feeling so inspired, perhaps opting to revisit (or, in the case of some, finally read) the novel that started it all may be your best bet for satisfying that P&P itch we all need to scratch at some point in our lives.