10 Best Period Drama Movies Of The 2010s, According To Letterboxd

Period drama is one of the most popular film and television genres. It’s not hard to see why, as it has the unique power to transport audiences to another time period. Additionally, these types of films often focus on the most compelling parts of the human experience, immersing the viewer in a world of frothy costumes, powerful human desire, and unusual human relationships.

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The 2010s created plenty of movies in this regard, and Letterboxd users helpfully rated them, providing a helpful guide to the best in the genre.

ten Beautiful (2013) – 3.5 – No streaming

One of the shortcomings of the period drama has been the reluctance to address the issue of race head-on. A notable exception to this rule was the 2013 film Beautiful, which focused on a noblewoman named Dido Elizabeth Belle, daughter of an English nobleman and a slave. Due to her heritage, she occupies a liminal place in British society, and the film excels at exploring this aspect of her life. Additionally, it also features the usual lavish adornments associated with period drama.

9 Jane Eyre (2011) – 3.6 – No Streaming

There have been many great literary adaptations in movies, and the 2011 iteration of Jane Eyre is rightly considered one of them. Based on the famous novel by Emily Bronte, it focuses on the title character after she becomes a governess for the brooding Mr. Rochester.

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The film excels at creating an adaptation of the classic novel by staying true to the source material while making it explainable to modern audiences. The powerful performances of Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender are particularly noteworthy.


8 The King’s Speech (2010) – 3.7 – Streaming on Starz

The King’s Speech is widely considered not only one of the best period dramas of the 2010s, but also one of the best British period dramas overall. Much of this stems from its cast’s ability to capture the complexity of its characters, particularly Colin Firth as King George VI, a man who struggled with a speech impediment but managed to overcome it through to the influence and patience of a speech therapist. Moreover, it also exhibits powerful performance of its supporting cast.

7 The Artist (2011) – 3.7 – Streaming on Netflix and Roku Channel

Hollywood is very fond of making films about what it’s like to work in Hollywood. One of the best examples of this particular genre includes The artist. Set during the waning years of silent cinema, it manages to capture the mood of this particular period of cinema and also allows the viewer to become emotionally involved with its two characters, a young actress and an aging star. It’s a visually stunning film that manages to capture the particular style associated with silent era films.

6 The Witch (2015) – 3.9 – Streaming on Showtime

Many strong horror movies emerged from the 2010s, and one of the best was The witch. He quickly manages to immerse the viewer in the dark and sinister world of colonial America, in which the forest is inhabited by dark forces beyond civilization. With its story about a young girl whose family is banished to the forest and meets a witch, it delves into the sinister side of America’s origins. With his understated approach to his material, his fearsome darkness only slowly becomes apparent.

5 The Favorite (2018) – 4.0 – No streaming

Part of the fun of period drama is that it can immerse the viewer in the strange world of the past. Some examples of the genre excel more than others, and that includes The favourite. Set in the deeply dysfunctional court of the aging Queen Anne, it centers on the equally strained relationship between two sparring cousins ​​who are desperately trying to gain the monarch’s wayward approval. However, neither of them quite gets what they want, and the film shows the dangers of the pursuit of power.

4 12 Years A Slave (2013) – 4.1 – Streaming on HBO Max

12 years of slavery is rightly and widely regarded as one of the best films of the 2010s. Focusing as it does on a free African American man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. It’s often hard to watch, as it doesn’t shy away from showing the brutality of slavery and how it systematically sought to dehumanize human beings. What makes it a particularly haunting movie is the fact that it’s based on a true story, the memoir of Solomon Northup.

3 Embrace of the Serpent (2015) – 4.1 – Streaming on Kanopy

A tribesman stands in Embrace of the Serpent

While many period dramas can be dismissed for their focus on seemingly insignificant matters like desire and costumes, the same cannot be said for The Serpent’s Embrace. This movie manages to be both visually and thematically complex, focusing as it does on a shaman named Karamakate who goes on two separate journeys.

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It’s a remarkably complex film, featuring many different languages, and allows the viewer to see just how terrible damage modernity has inflicted on the Amazon and its people.

2 Little Women (2019) – 4.2 – Streaming on FuboTV

The March sisters at the beach in Little Woman

In the history of American literature, few novels have remained as popular and beloved as Little woman. It has also seen a number of screen adaptations, most of which manage to retain the appeal of the original book. That’s very true of the 2019 version, written and directed by Greta Gerwig. Part of what makes the movie so charming are the performances, especially those of Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, and Laura Dern. It manages to be both timeless and timely at the same time.

1 The Handmaiden (2016) – 4.4 – No streaming

Servant and heiress in the forest in The Servant

While some period dramas can be a bit muted in their approach to the past, that’s not the case with The servant. Although based on a novel set in Victorian London, the adaptation shifts the setting to Korea, which is struggling under the rule of Japanese settlers. In particular, it focuses on the dangerously forbidden and deadly desire that emerges between a lady and her servant, who resent the restrictions imposed on their freedom by the world in which they live.

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