Top 10 | Costume Dramas (a sequel)

It's been almost a year since my original Top 10: Costume Dramas blog post has gone up and I might have fallen in love with classics a bit more this year and their adaptations, so here's a list of another ten costume dramas that I think need way more recognition than they have. (Also, forgive the overload on the Jane Austen front, I have really gotten into her works recently!)

Northanger Abbey (BBC, 2007)
Controversially, this is my favourite Austen work. I just find it to be so quirky and funny and adorable and perfect for the ones who are only getting into classical literature. You can just relate to Catherine's naivety and it's kind of amazing, in my opinion. Also, I read it in a day and then watched this adaptation... just to illustrate how much I adored it. I think that Felicity Jones makes Catherine's character come to life so amazingly well and it's definitely worth a watch.

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Persuasion (BBC, 2007)
I promise, this will be the last Austen work in this blog post, but I really needed to mention this one. Basically, Anne Elliot and her family need to move from their comfortable house on the countryside to Bath because of financial problems. Just before she leaves, she visits her younger sister in her husband's home, where she runs into her almost-husband and that makes the story go wild. There are so many feminist values in it and it kind of illustrates how Anne had to deal with society at the time and be the grown up one in her family. I think that it can be an interesting watch/read, especially with all the feminist ideals going around the interwebs and besides that, it's really fantastic. I like the fact that they didn't chose drop dead gorgeous actors and actresses for this one, because it makes it much more believable and their skills are just... off the hook.

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North and South (BBC, 2004)
This one was recommended to me by my dearest sister, when I was in deep need to watch some costume dramas and it was a fantastic recommendation. Margaret and her family have to move from their comfortable house in the south to the harsh and cruel reality in Edinburgh in the north because of financial troubles. She deals with all sorts of judgement and realises that the world isn't as nice as she might have thought. The acting is really good, the music captures the feel of the whole series so well and you see so many familiar faces, yet they don't really take away from the whole atmosphere of the story. Definitely one to see! (and yes, young Richard Armitage, we're all very excited about that!)

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Birdsong (BBC, 2012)
I have absolutely no idea how I forgot to mention this beauty earlier, because it's absolutely wonderful. It's a two-part series about a relationship between Stephen and Isabelle, a young couple that meets just before the first world war started. There are a lot of flashbacks and the story is slightly muddled up and very much all over the place, but basically, it talks about their relationship and what happened between them and how they concealed their affair from Isabelle's husband and basically, a war-time romance. It's very well acted, but at the same time it's quite controversial and very detailed (it has very detailed sex scenes, scenes on the front and stuff like that). If you're not a fan of seeing someone's chest and ribs blown into your face by a mine, maybe this one isn't for you, but seeing the acting and just pure amazingness of this series kind of makes up for it. (I haven't read the book, but if you have, please tell me your opinion on it!)

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A Room With A View (1986)
I am basically repelled with myself for forgetting to put this one in the first post, because it's one of my favourite films anyway... Oh god. *cringes in silence* Anyway. A British girl goes to Italy, has a sort of fling with a British guy, goes back home to escape her feelings, gets engaged to a very annoying upper class idiot and then... her fling from Italy comes back and it's all a bit of a mess, but still... the original rom-com in my opinion. Also, the book is wonderful, as you might have noticed, because I can't go through a single blog post without mentioning it. The main character is played by Helena Bonham Carter and she brings out the character of Lucy so brilliantly and portrays her as I've imagined her and it's basically amazing. Watch it. Read it. Whatever. Just do it!

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The Musketeers (BBC, 2013-)
This one might also be a tiny bit controversial, because it's not the most historically accurate show on the planet. It's not even completely based on the actual book, which I've read and absolutely adored. However, it does take the characters, the major plot-points (like the death of Cardinal Richelieu, which kind of upsets me, because I want to see more of Peter Capaldi as the sassy cardinal) and the relationships from the original novel, making them a bit more inviting to the wider public. Basically, d'Artagnan and his father are travelling to Paris on the behalf of Gascony's people, pleading the king to lower their taxes. On their way, his father is brutally murdered and the man who killed him said that his name was Athos of the King's Musketeers and d'Artagnan decides to go to Paris to seek this man and get his vengeance. However, when he meets Athos, he soon realises that it wasn't him that killed his father... and the adventure begins. Even though it's not completely based on everything that happens in the book, it's highly enjoyable, everyone is absolutely gorgeous in this and you can ship pretty much about anything. If you're a fan of Skins, the guy who plays Freddie is in this and for the Merlin fans, Lancelot is back. And of course, the twelfth Doctor. Hell yes.

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Anna Karenina (2012)
(OK, the reasons why I like this film are weird, but please, stick with me!) The novel/film is about Anna Karenina, a woman in her 30's (basically, an old lady for those standards), living in Russia in a very unhappy marriage. One day, whilst travelling on the Russian railway to meet her sister, she meets a very young officer from the army and with his good looks and charm, she inevitably falls in love with him and starts an affair which was very controversial for that time. Queue the shame and drama and angry husbands yelling. Generally, I have found all three of the main characters of the novel (so, Anna, Aleksej and Aleksej, the husband and the lover) to be extremely annoying. I have hated them with a passion, but the way they acted them out was brilliant. If I can despise them so much, then it's gotta be good. I was very interested in the story of the smaller characters (like Konstantin) and they have portrayed that brilliantly and just the way the whole film was shot made me weep a bit, because it was abso-fucking-lutely stunning.. It all seemed like they were in the same room all the time; in an abandoned theatre and the rooms above it. The clothes are amazing and the music is amazing (Dario Marianelli, you've got me again!) and the acting was brilliant, but I only hate the main characters, that's the problem. I told you the reasons for me liking the film are weird as fuck.

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Sense And Sensibility (BBC, 2008)
Remember when I said no more Austen novels? I lied, because this one is way too fabulous to let out. Basically, sisters Marianne and Elinor and their mother and younger sister have to move into a smaller house because of their poor financial condition (a common theme in Jane Austen novels, as you might have noticed) and just before they move, both sisters meet two men; the elder basically meets Matthew from Downton Abbey and the younger meets the most obnoxious bastard on the planet and it sets off a very funny, heartwarming story, with many cute and adorable plot twists. As much as I like Pride and Prejudice, both Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey surpass it, because I feel like there are so many more things I can relate to. Also, there are many, many familiar faces for those of you who have seen at least two shows from my previous costume dramas list, but other faces are really unfamiliar and the story seems a lot more genuine. Basically, a big like from me!

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
This is one of the weirdest costume dramas ever made (and I hope it counts as a costume drama... well, it might not, but fuck it, I need to talk about it!), but it's quite possibly one of my favourites. In the 1960's in a weird fictional country in Europe, an older, balder Jude Law is taking a break in the Grand Budapest hotel. He one evening has dinner with the owner of the hotel, Zero Mustafa and he tells him the story of the time he was a lobby boy at that very hotel. Basically, one of the most beautifully shot films, it's Wes Anderson (you either love his films or you hate them... I'm on the love bandwagon) and everything is amazing, from the warderobe and makeup and the acting to the storyline and the characters, you just can't help but fall in love with everything. If you haven't already seen, it's nominated for quite a few Academy Awards this year, so definitely... check it out.

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Midnight in Paris (2011)
Quite possibly, one of the best Woody Allen films. There, I've said it. Gil is a writer, living in L.A. with his absolutely gorgeous, yet unbelievably annoying girlfriend Ines and one day, they go to Paris with her parents just before their wedding. Gil is having troubles with writing and he seeks some inspiration and during the day, he wanders around Paris, constantly preparing for the wedding, but during the night, he boards a carriage that takes him back to the 1920's, where he casually hangs out with F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein and all those amazing people and then, when he starts mixing everything he learnt from Hemingway into his everyday life, things start getting complicated. The music, the clothes, the acting, the unbelievable annoying character of Ines, possibly the most perfect ending to a film, I just love it. Plus, so many actors that you've seen everywhere are in this and I think that this is definitely an amazing film that many will love.

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(honourable mentions) A Very Long Engagement (2004)
The story follows around Mathilde, a young girl suffering from some sort of paralysis, living during the first world war. Before the war, she was engaged to a guy called Manech and then, during the war, she got the news that he supposedly died on the front on the Somme. Somehow, she couldn't quite believe them, because apparently, she would feel it if he was truly dead. And so, without further ado, she goes on a quest to find her true love and the ending... is too much. Oh good god. This might be one of my favourite French films (besides Love Songs, La Belle Personne, Amelie and Hors De Prix), purely because of the acting. It gets to me so many times. Audrey Tatou is so wonderful in it, because she is constantly this determined, focused human being and you almost feel sorry for her, because every sane person would just give up and wouldn't go as far as she did and the reward is so worth it. It really shows you that sometimes, there are things that aren't worth giving up on. Plus, is the one of the most realistically shot films concerning the wartime topic. It's so terrifyingly real and beautiful and definitely a must-see.

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So, if you're stuck as to what to watch on your lonely Saturday night, then I definitely recommend one of the above, because they are all pure gold and definitely worth a watch. Or, if you're not quite a big of a fan of costume dramas, then I hope that this blog post has at least made you consider to watch one, because they're not all boring. They are all pretty amazing. I shall see you soon!
xxx Katherine


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