The Best Period Romance Movies
There's just something swoon-worthy about period pieces. Maybe it's the star-crossed love in these stories that wins over movie-watchers. Or perhaps it's the rules of courtship, keeping the couples – and audiences – on the edge of their seats as the characters patiently woo one another. The best period romantic movies feature memorable figures fighting to stay together despite differences in class and societal norms. This is a list of the top romantic period movies including everything from Pride & Prejudice to The English Patient to Ever After.
What films will you find on this list of the best period romance films? The modern classic Titanic – set against the backdrop of the real-life disaster – finds Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) falling in love despite their very different stations in life. James Cameron's tear-jerking film took home a whopping 11 Academy Awards.
Gone with the Wind may have been set in the Civil War, but its primary plot was focused on love rather than war. The headstrong Scarlett O'Hara and dashing Rhett Butler fought, kissed, and smoldered their way through this timeless epic. Other good films found on this best period romances list include The New World, First Knight and Sense and Sensibility.Which romance story makes you swoon? Give the best movies a thumbs up and share some of your favorite scenes in the comments section.
- Released: 2005
- Directed by: Joe Wright
Pride & Prejudice, based on the timeless Jane Austen novel, immerses audiences in the enchanting story of the sharp-witted Elizabeth Bennet, portrayed by Keira Knightley, and the brooding Mr. Darcy, played by Matthew Macfadyen. With its graceful choreography of restrained English courtship, breathtaking landscapes, and nuanced performances, Joe Wright's vision brings this beloved historical romance to life, resonating with fans of the novel on an intimate emotional level. The film's entrancing allure and tender character development have firmly placed it among the most cherished adaptations of Austen's timeless romance.
- Released: 2017
- Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson
Phantom Thread, the sublime cinematic exploration of love, art, and obsession, stars the illustrious Daniel Day-Lewis as Reynolds Woodcock, a fastidious dressmaker in 1950s London who becomes enamored with a young waitress, Alma, portrayed by Vicky Krieps. Directed by the visionary Paul Thomas Anderson, the film masterfully weaves an intricate web of desire between its intriguing characters, earning several award nominations and acclaim for the enchanting performances. As a remarkable example of historical romance cinema, Phantom Thread leaves viewers spellbound by its alluring story and delicate portrait of love.
- Released: 2019
- Directed by: Céline Sciamma
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a tour de force from director Céline Sciamma, unravels the delicate tale of passion between a portrait painter, Noémie Merlant's Marianne, and her elusive subject, Adèle Haenel's Héloïse, in 18th-century France. The film's mesmerizing visuals, palpable desire, and unconventional approach to both art and romance create an unforgettable atmosphere of romantic tension. Praised for its bewitching exploration of forbidden love and the fleeting nature of passion, Portrait of a Lady on Fire has enraptured audiences and critics alike, leaving an indelible mark on the landscape of historical romance cinema.
Little WomenSaoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh
- Released: 2019
- Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Little Women, Greta Gerwig's captivating adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, features an ensemble cast brimming with talent—including Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, and Timothée Chalamet. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, the film follows the March sisters as they each confront societal expectations and navigate the intricacies of their individual romances. Celebrated for its depth of emotion, artistic achievements, and tender portrayal of sisterly bonds, Little Women stands as an endearing and transformative example of historical romance cinema.
- Released: 1995
- Directed by: Ang Lee
Sense and Sensibility, Ang Lee's adaptation of Jane Austen's classic novel, features stellar performances by Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, whose lives are upended by financial woes and the tumultuous path of love. The film elegantly balances the restrained courtship rituals of Regency England with the emotional turbulence brought on by thwarted desires and crossed emotions. Lauded for its evocative storytelling, Sense and Sensibility entwines humor, heartache, and hope in a magnificent tapestry of historical romance.
- Released: 2011
- Directed by: Cary Joji Fukunaga
Jane Eyre, adapted from Charlotte Brontë's enduring tale, stars Mia Wasikowska as the resilient young heroine and Michael Fassbender as the enigmatic Mr. Rochester, bringing their intense romance to life amidst the rugged landscapes of 19th-century England. Directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the film expertly balances its brooding Gothic atmosphere with the emotive depth and complexity of its central love story. As a powerful example of historical romance cinema, Jane Eyre enchants with its capacity to evoke passion, mystery, and a relentless drive for love in the face of adversity.