Entertainment

The Best Jane Austen Adaptations

From contemporary takes to faithful adaptations, these are the Austen-inspired movies and series we can't get enough of.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

Even though she only wrote six novels, Jane Austen is one of the world’s most-adopted writers. Her books continue to inspire relatively faithful renditions and total left turns alike. This year alone, we’ve gotten both. Netflix’s twee new Persuasion, starring Dakota Johnson and Henry Golding, falls into the faithful category, while the Hulu rom-com Fire Island updates Pride and Prejudice within a contemporary queer haven. The ideas Austen put forward-the pressure placed on women to marry, the 18th-century class dynamics that still haven’t disappeared-remain resonant, and her famous wit hasn’t lost its bite with time. In honour of Austen’s legacy, Thrillist rounded up our favourite movies and shows based on her work.

Miramax Films
Miramax Films
Miramax Films

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Bridget Jones’s Diary is not only one of the best rom-coms of all time. It also breathed contemporary, messy life into Austen-inspired characters and their romantic comedy of errors. Like Austen and Elizabeth Bennet before her, author Helen Fielding’s beloved Bridget has become a British pop-culture icon herself (so much so that RenĂ©e Zellweger is basically an honorary Brit). A fun-loving, career-minded everywoman, she’s less concerned with the monetary prospects of marriage and more so with how society views “singletons” and her impending days being seen as a “spinster.” It remains bloody funny, delightfully casting famed Mr. Darcy actor Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. As any good Austen novel will compel you to open up your heart, Bridget Jones’s Diary has the power to compel you to run into the snow after the one you love, with or without your pants on. –Sadie Bell

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

Clueless (1995)

Has there ever been a better example of taking a classic story and translating it for a modern milieu than Clueless? Doubt it. Amy Heckerling took the bones of Austen’s Emma-an overly confident young woman who prides herself on matchmaking and is unaware of her own blind spots-and turned it into something thoroughly singular in its own right. It’s hard to even read Emma now without thinking of Cher Horowitz and her bon mots. –Esther Zuckerman

Focus Features/Universal Pictures
Focus Features/Universal Pictures
Focus Features/Universal Pictures

EMMA. (2020)

Although it’s one of the most recent Austen adaptations, this version of Emma is incredibly faithful to its source material. But rather than being a BBC-core period piece, this film directorial debut from Autumn de Wilde (known for directing music videos for the likes of Florence and the Machine and Jenny Lewis) is impeccably stylish and creates a whimsical period-piece world of its own. Its decadent production design and costumes take on a soft hue that complements the spread at high tea, and nearly every bit of dialogue, look of longing, and act of courting is choreographed beat-by-beat to the score. There’s a cheeky sense of humour to it, too, and Anya Taylor-Joy plays the iconic matchmaker as conniving as she ought to be. It may be a Regency-set adaptation, but it’s one filled with 2020’s style. –SB

Hulu/Searchlight Pictures
Hulu/Searchlight Pictures
Hulu/Searchlight Pictures

Fire Island (2022)

Fire Island‘s leading man, Noah (Joel Kim Booster), calls Pride and Prejudice‘s famous opening line “hetero nonsense.” Not every single man wants a partner, he insists, contradicting Austen’s pithy assertion about couplings. By the end of the movie, however, the joke’s on him. While vacationing with friends at the titular gay New York mecca, Noah meets a standoffish lawyer (Conrad Ricamora) who slowly ignites his fancy-the Mr. Darcy to his Elizabeth Bennet. On the periphery, there’s a Jane Bennet (played by Bowen Yang), a Charles Bingley (James Scully), a Lydia (Matt Rogers), even a Mrs. Bennet (Margaret Cho). As a whole, Fire Island-written by Booster and directed by Andrew Ahn (Driveways)-works better in some ways than others. But as an Austen adaptation, it’s an unconventional, effective joy. –Matthew Jacobs

Lionsgate
Lionsgate
Lionsgate

Love & Friendship (2016)

Based on Austen’s sly epistolary novel Lady Susan (with a title taken from a story she wrote as a child), Whit Stillman’s uproariously funny Love & Friendship unravels the entire social structure of a clique of busybodies and effortlessly stitches it back up again. The widowed yet still youthful Lady Susan Vernon (Kate Beckinsale) is determined to marry off her eligible daughter Frederica (Morfydd Clark) and also find a husband for herself, but her daughter can’t stand the doltish Sir James (Tom Bennett), who follows her around despite her best efforts. Lady Susan herself has a reputation for being an accomplished flirt, and no eligible bachelor trusts that she’ll be faithful. When she and her daughter get romantically involved with multiple men, they launch a tornado of chaos within their friend group. High jinks ensue. –Emma Stefansky

Buena Vista International
Buena Vista International
Buena Vista International

Mansfield Park (1999)

Pretty much every Austen adaptation deviates from its source material in some way, even the period-faithful ones, but Patricia Rozema’s Mansfield Park is notable for just how much it deviates-and for what it adds. A contemporary-minded reimagining that lays bare the oppressions and hypocrisies its characters are living under, the film stars Frances O’Connor as Fanny Price, sent to live with her wealthy extended family and immediately drawn into the complex intrigues of her cousins’ lives, falling in and out of love with men who can’t make up their minds. The film famously includes depictions of extramarital sex, obviously something that would not have appeared in the book, and openly critiques the main characters’ involvement in the slave trade: Mansfield Park’s wealth comes from a plantation in Antigua, a fact brushed aside in the book but not in the film. While it’s not exactly faithful to the words themselves, it is perhaps a more faithful adaptation of Austen herself, who sprinkled atop her harmless romance novels many barely concealed criticisms of the social structures she and her contemporaries were living under. –ES

Sony Pictures Releasing
Sony Pictures Releasing
Sony Pictures Releasing

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

The combination of the irrepressible wit of Emma Thompson and the directorial genius of Ang Lee makes the 1995 film version of Sense and Sensibility one of the best literary adaptations ever made. Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay, stars as the sensible Elinor Dashwood alongside a fresh-faced, pre-Titanic Kate Winslet-playing her more naive sister, Marianne-as they search for matches that can provide love as well as stability. Plus, it gave us Thompson’s incredible Golden Globe acceptance speech, done, in character, as Austen herself. –EZ

BBC
BBC
BBC

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

The BBC Pride & Prejudice is arguably the ur-Austen adaptation. The six-episode miniseries is incredibly faithful, so much that plenty of high school students have probably watched it instead of doing the assigned reading. It’s still excellent, a perfectly cast rendition of one of the most beloved works of literature of all time. So much of that is thanks to the brilliant work of Colin Firth, inhabiting a role that all of his subsequent work would have to live up to, and Jennifer Ehle. Firth, with his uptight bristle, is the ideal Darcy, while Ehle’s Lizzy Bennet brims with intelligence. –EZ

Focus Features/Universal Pictures
Focus Features/Universal Pictures
Focus Features/Universal Pictures

Pride & Prejudice (2005)

Audiences were initially worried that director Joe Wright’s take on Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy wouldn’t compare to the 1995 miniseries, and Austen obsessives were hesitant about changes made to the plot. But this Austen film has gone down as a favourite among certain millennials. Its long, expansive shots capturing the English countryside and luminous ballrooms are simply breathtaking, transporting you to Austen’s romantic world unlike any other. While Matthew Macfadyen’s Darcy isn’t as beloved as Colin Firth’s, Kiera Knightley gives one of her best performances as Elizabeth, and the rest of the ensemble’s charms bring a particular youthfulness to this version. It’s as every bit as visceral as Pride and Prejudice can be.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Entertainment

Where to Celebrate Lunar New Year 2023 in Australia

And what it means to be in the year of the Rabbit.

where to celebrate lunar new year australia

Starting with the new moon on Sunday, January 22, this Lunar New Year ushers in the year of the Rabbit. We’ve put together a guide on celebrating the Lunar New Year in Australia.

What is special about the year of the Rabbit?

As you might know, each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac, which is based on the moon and has a 12-year cycle. This year, we celebrate the year of the rabbit, known to be the luckiest out of all twelve animals. It symbolises mercy, elegance, and beauty.

What celebrations are taking place and how can I get involved?

There are plenty of festivals happening all around the country which you can get involved with. Here they are per state.

New South Wales

Darling Harbour Fireworks
When: Every year, Sydney puts on a fireworks show, and this year, you can catch it on January 28 and February 4 at 9 pm in Darling Harbour.

Dragon Boat Races
When: Witness three days of dragon boat races and entertainment on Cockle Bay to usher in the Lunar New Year. The races will commence on January 27 and finish on January 29.

Lion Dances
When: Catch a traditional Lion Dance moving to the beat of a vigorous drum bringing good luck and fortune for the Lunar New Year. The dance performances will happen across Darling Harbour on Saturday, January 21, Sunday, January 22, and Sunday, February 4 and 5, around 6 pm and 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at Cirrus Dining
When: Barangaroo’s waterfront seafood restaurant, Cirrus, is celebrating the Year of the Rabbit with a special feast menu. Cirrus’ LNY menu is $128pp with optional wine pairing and is available from Saturday, January 21, to Sunday, February 5.

Auntie Philter
When: Hello Auntie’s owner and executive chef, Cuong Nguyen will be dishing out some of the most classic Vietnamese street foods with his mum, Linda. All of Philter’s favourites will be on offer, as well as Raspberry Pash Beer Slushies and other cocktails being served at the Philter Brewing rooftop bar on Sunday, January 22 and Sunday, January 29.

Victoria

Lunar New Year Festival
When: Ring in the Lunar New Year with food, music, arts, and more on Sunday, January 22, from 10 am to 9 pm.

Lunar New Year at the National Gallery of Victoria
When: Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the National Gallery of Victoria’s festival of art, food, and art-making activities for everyone from 10 am-5 pm.

Queensland

BriAsia Festival
When: From February 1-19, Brisbane will come alive with performances, including lion dances and martial arts displays. There will be street food, workshops, comedy and more.

South Australia

Chinatown Adelaide Street Party
When: Adelaide is set to hose a fun-filled day celebrating the Chinese New Year on Saturday, January 28, from 12 pm to 9 pm.

Western Australia

Crown Perth
When: Across January and February, Crown Perth hosts free live entertainment, including colourful lion dances, roving mascots, and drumming performances. The restaurants will also throw banquets and menus dedicated to the Lunar New Year.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.


Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.