2.26.2016

Austen Awards: Heroines


FINALLLY the Austen Awards comes to an end, and I'm betting you're just as ready for this series to conclude as much as I am. I've saved the most important category for last. The category that is vital to each adaptation: the heroine. Once again, vote for your favorites of each iteration and check out the personality quiz at the bottom of the page.

7. FANNY PRICE

The Character: The lower class girl taken in by relatives, only to be reminded of her inferiority constantly in Mansfield Park. Fanny is quiet observer of all the things going on in the household.

Best Version:
As I mentioned in the hunks post for Edmund Bertram, this is a difficult choice because I'm not a huge fan of this character or either of its portrayals. Frances O'Connor is fine, but is she a good version of Fanny? Is she miswritten? Billie Piper is also fine, but is she miscast? The answer to all of these questions is probably. So there's no one in this category I can really sing praises of. 

Worst Version:
See previous. I'm only placing Frances O'Connor here because it seems like she's more assertive than she's supposed to be.

Worth Mentioning: That's all!

Which Fanny Price do you prefer?

Billie Piper (Mansfield Park 2007)
Frances O'Connor (Mansfield Park 1999)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

6. CATHERINE MORLAND

The Character: A lover of reading any book she can possibly get her hands on, and subsequently develops a wild imagination in Northanger Abbey. Catherine earnestly tries to be good and see the best in people, but is naive to many truths of the world.

Only version with talking about:


Felicity Jones is utterly adorable and delightful as Catherine Morland. She's beautiful, sweet, and incredibly sincere. She comes off as very young, but wanting to better herself in any way she can...unless she gets distracted by her imagination.

Is Felicity Jones the perfect Catherine Morland?

Yes!
No!
Other
Please Specify:
make a quiz

5. ANNE ELLIOT

The Character: A woman filled with regret for being talked out of marrying the love of her life years ago, then thrown together again in Persuasion. Anne quietly suffers and keeps all her pain below the surface where no one can see. 

Best Version:
Sally Hawkins gives an incredible performance as Anne Elliot in the 2007 version. So much of her feelings are beneath the surface, but Sally is able to portray them with just the smallest nuances in her face. She brought the character to life for me!

Worst Version:
It seems to me that Amanda Root only knows how to make her eyes bigger to show that she's feeling anything. I'm not a fan of her portrayal at all.

Worth Mentioning: That's it!


Which Anne Elliot do you prefer?

Amanda Root (Persuasion 1995)
Sally Hawkins (Persuasion 2007)
Other
Please Specify:
personality test

4. MARIANNE DASHWOOD

The Character: The passionate and romantic Dashwood sister in Sense & Sensibility. She feels things deeply and always lets those feelings be known. 
Best Version:
Kate Winslet is SO PERFECT in this role. She creates this poetic soul who only accepts life a certain way, and has to learn things the hard way because of it. Her performance contrasted with Emma Thompson's is just superb.

Worst Version:
I'm wondering if Marla Sokoloff has ever even seen or read Sense & Sensibility because the character she played was NOTHING like Marianne. She was incredibly even tempered for a girl who is supposed to be passionate and dramatic. Alexa Vega too was very cringeworthy...but at least her character somewhat resembled Marianne.

Worth Mentioning: Charity Wakefield gave a similar performance in being passionate in the 2008 version...but sorry girl, you're never gonna compare to Kate Winslet.


Which Marianne Dashwood is your favorite?

Kate Winslet (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Charity Wakefield (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Marla Sokoloff (Scents and Sensibility)
Alexa Vega (From Prada to Nada)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

3. EMMA WOODHOUSE

The Character: The daughter of a rich upper-class man who has spoiled her throughout her entire life in Emma. Emma means well, but constantly meddles in the life of her friends, thinking she can improve their lives. 

Best Version:
It's a tossup between Gwyneth Paltrow and Alicia Silverstone, but I'm giving the edge to Gwyneth for the elegance and class she brought to Emma. She perfectly portrays the snobbery Emma has coming from the upper class and being spoiled all her life, yet you can't help but like her. 

Worst Version
I'm gonna get killed for this. I know a lot of Austen aficionados love her, but I really didn't care for Romola Garai as Emma. She is beautiful and often elegant in other roles, but somehow she played this character too goofy for me. I also felt Kate Beckinsale didn't fit my vision of Emma, but I couldn't find any gifs for her!

Worth Mentioning: Alicia Stone is so great in Clueless. She's incredibly funny and a great modern lead. I also really liked Joanna Sotomura in Emma Approved, though with a much longer runtime, it was easier for her to occasionally get on your nerves. But usually I thought she was hilarious and sweet....and incredibly stylish.



Which Emma is your favorite?

Gwyneth Paltrow (Emma 1996)
Alicia Silverstone (Clueless)
Joanna Sotomura (Emma Approved)
Romola Garai (Emma 2009)
Kate Beckinsale (Emma 1997)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

2. ELINOR DASHWOOD

The Character: The even-tempered Dashwood sister who suffers her pain in private in Sense & Sensibility. She is reasonable and rational. She doesn't make decisions based on her heart, but rather what she believes is the most sensible. 

Best Version:
I just love Emma Thompson's Elinor Dashwood. She just exudes this inner strength that is threatened only when her sister is in danger. She is stable and serene and everything that an Elinor ought to be. 

Worst Version
Ashley William's isn't as bad as Marla Sokoloff in Scents and Sensibility, but when your Marianne is so even tempered, any type of reaction Elinor has seems really out of character because she seems more emotional than Marianne. Really she's not SO bad...but together neither of them really resemble their counterparts. 

Worth Mentioning: Hattie Morahan pleases a lot of Janeites because she's more age appropriate. I probably remember her performance the most from the 2008 version and thought she was pretty solid, but Emma Thompson just wins it for me. 


Which Elinor Dashwood is your favorite?

Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Hattie Morahan (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Ashley Williams (Scents and Sensibility)
Camilla Belle (From Prada to Nada)
Other
Please Specify:
quizzes

1. ELIZABETH BENNET

The Character: The vivacious and intelligent woman who unknowingly captures the attention of a man she utterly dislikes in Pride & Prejudice
Best Version:
I now have two favorite Elizabeths. I have my favorite straight adaptation version (Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice '05,) and then I have my favorite action hero version (Lily James in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.) Keira is beautiful, quick and witty...but above all, she's playful. She isn't trying to be coldly rude all the time, rather she just likes to tease. She certainly dislikes Mr. Darcy, but she knows how to be civil enough and prefers to challenge him intellectually through bantering. Lily James played it similarly, but threw in a few more personal digs and....kicks and punches. 


But take out the zombies and you'd still get a really awesome Elizabeth Bennet from Lily's performance! 
Worst Version
Anna Maxwell Martin is SO miscast in Death Comes to Pemberley. Not only is she too plain to be the beautiful Elizabeth described as having "fine eyes," but she's also too drab and boring personality wise as well! I don't know what these guys were thinking. Also among my least favorites is Aishwarya Rai's bratty take in Bride & Prejudice. She's certainly incredibly beautiful, but her beauty doesn't make up for how rude she is to her Darcy. I also feel similarly about Jennifer Ehle to be honest, but at this point, I'm not gonna rant too much. I'll just say I'd prefer more smiles and less death eyed glares. Also a least favorite HAS to be Gemma Arterton in Lost in Austen. She's very beautiful and visually looks like she'd be a good Elizabeth, but talks too sing-songy and worse, is written TERRIBLY. [SPOILERS highlight to read] What kind of Elizabeth would know her fate with Darcy and know he's the love of her life, but NOT be curious in truly pursuing that? Is she taking crazy pills? And what does she prefer to it? A nanny job in modern London? I don't think so. [/end spoilers.]

Worth Mentioning: Ashley Clements at times can be a perfectly wonderful modern Lizzie. Unfortunately, since she's the character who is the source of the story, sometimes the viewer has to suffer from A LOT of her complaining. And it gets old. But she really makes up for it in the end. Kam Heskin is an okay Elizabeth in P&P: A Latter-Day comedy, but doesn't really fit the way I see the character. 


Which Elizabeth Bennet is your favorite?

Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice 2005)
Lily James (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies)
Ashley Clements (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice 1995)
Gemma Arterton (Lost in Austen)
Kam Heskin (Latter-Day Comedy)
Aishwarya Rai (Bride & Prejudice)
Anna Maxwell Martin (Death Comes to Pemberley)
Greer Garson
Other
Please Specify:

personality test


HONORARY HEROINES: Jane Erstwhile/Hayes is an obsessive Janeite but a fun modern heroine, Each of the Jane Austen book club members possess traits similar to those found in Austen's novels. Whereas Amanda Price couldn't be any more different than any of Austen's ladies, rather the comedy comes from how much she doesn't fit in.




2.25.2016

Austen Awards: The Hunks


We've finally reached perhaps THE most important of the Austen Awards. The hunks. It is time to find who is the most desirable of all of the wonderful heroes in Jane Austen adaptations. Vote for your favorite versions of each character and let me know who is your favorite of all the hunks in ALL the categories. Plus, find out which hunk you'd end up with. Ready!? Okay!

8. EDMUND BERTRAM

The Character: The cousin of Fanny Price who is immediately bewitched by Mary Crawford then does a 180 at the end of the story to be in love with Fanny.

Best Portrayal: 

This is REALLY tough to pick, but mostly because I'm ambivalent to both of them. I think Blake Ritson's version might be a little more kinder...but he kind of reminds me of a vampire. Johnny Lee Miller is more attractive, but might as well have been a cardboard cutout he's so bland. I honestly don't even know who to pick here... I'd be better off flipping a coin really. I guesssssss I'll go for personality over looks this time and pick Ritson, but really don't care one way or another.

Worst Portrayal:

See last entry. Worst is best and best is worst. There's no difference here for me. Really the character isn't my favorite, so I don't know who could really make me love him.

Worth Mentioning: N/A. We've covered everyone.


Which Edmund Bertram do you prefer?

Blake Ritson (Mansfield Park 2007)
Johnny Lee Miller (Mansfield Park 1999)
Neither! She should end up with Henry Crawford
Other
Please Specify:
quiz tool

7. EDWARD FERRARS

The Character: The love interest of Elinor Dashwood who loves her too, but is bound by duty to a previous engagement to a woman he is no longer in love with.

Best Portrayal:


This is tricky because the version I am by far the most familiar with is Hugh Grant's take in the '95 version...but he is without a doubt the weak link in the film (nor does he and Emma Thompson have the greatest chemistry.) Yet, he's kind of serviceable and works well enough. But I suppose if I had my choice between Dan Stevens and Hugh Grant, I'd pick Dan...so I'll pick him here too even if I don't remember much about the 2008 version.

Worst Portrayal:
I feel guilty labeling anyone in this category as the worst because none of them were that bad. None of them were that good either, but that's kinda more due to the character than the performances.


Worth Mentioning: We already discussed Hugh Grant, but the two modern versions in Scents and Sensibility and From Prada to Nada are fine (if forgettable) enough. 


Which Edward Ferrars is your favorite?

Hugh Grant (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Dan Stevens (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Brad Johnson (Scents and Sensibility)
Nicolas D'Agosto (From Prada to Nada)
Other
Please Specify:
Do Quizzes

6. MR. BINGLEY

The Character: Mr. Darcy's best friend who is immediately bewitched by Jane Bennet in Pride & Prejudice. He is a sweet, well-intentioned man who is just a little too easily persuaded. 

Best Portrayal:

Hmm. This one is a hard one. There seems to be two ways of playing Bingley to people. Usually by making him too silly, or too bland. I like the silly Bingleys, but I understand that's probably not how the character should be... Some solid Bingleys are the '95 version and the Lost in Austen version...but I think I'm going to bestow this honor upon the Lizzie Bennet Diaries version.

Worst Portrayal:

Hmm. Has anyone played him truly badly? Some might hate Simon Woods for being too goofy, but I like him so I'll give him a pass. I think if I had to pick one I'll go with the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies version. He wasn't really that bad, but kinda came off as a weak pretty boy. He doesn't seem equal to his Jane.


Worth Mentioning: I already mentioned Simon Woods' lovable goofball take, but Ben Gourley made Bingley even MORE of a lovable goofball, if possible. His Bingley is adorable, even if he's a little bit dumb. Also Naveen Andrews in Bride & Prejudice is pretty good too.


Which Mr. Bingley is your favorite?

Simon Woods (Pride & Prejudice 2005)
Ben Gourley (Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy)
Douglas Booth (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies)
Christopher Sean (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Tom Mison (Lost in Austen)
Naveen Andrews (Bride & Prejudice)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Pride and Prejudice '95)
Other
Please Specify:
personality test

5. COLONEL BRANDON


The Character: An older man who is instantly smitten with Marianne Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility. Unfortunately, he has to stand by and watch her be romanced by another man, then have her heart broken before she'll give him the time of day.
Best Portrayal:

Could this go to anyone but Alan Rickman? Like really? Could it? He claimed this role and I really doubt that anyone could ever take it from him.

Worst Portrayal:

Wilmer Valderrama in Prada to Nada. I don't think Colonel Brandon was ever supposed to be a gangster.

Worth Mentioning: There's the Liam Neeson Walking Dead lookalike in the 2008 version and Nick Zano in Scents and Sensibility. Both are okay. 


Which Colonel Brandon is your favorite?

Alan Rickman (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Nick Zano (Scents and Sensibility)
Wilmer Valderrama (From Prada to Nada)
David Morrissey (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Other
Please Specify:
Do Quizzes

4. CAPTAIN WENTWORTH

The character: The jilted ex-fiance of Anne Elliot, a woman who was talked out of marrying him even though she truly loved him, who meets her again years later in Persuasion. Captain Wentworth is a haunted man trying to escape his past, he's a total catch that wants to move on with his life, yet remains subconsciously loyal to his first love and can't quite seem to quit her. And he's increeeeddddibly romantic.

Best Portrayal:

Rupert Penry-Jones is a man anyone would kick themselves over letting go, especially in 2007's Persuasion. He's obviously beautiful, but he's also very tender. The look he gives Anne in the very last scene (improbable as his wedding gift may have been for those times...) is pretty much the most adorable thing. In the end, he just wants to make the one he loves happy.

Worst Portrayal:

If Rupert Penry-Jones is the winner in my eyes, that means that Ciaran Hinds must be the loser. He's not that bad, but not really anyone I'd be pining over for 7 years. I won't say it here, but my sisters summation of that film is perfectly illustrated in that gif.

Worth Mentioning: Only two major adaptations have been made, so that's all we can talk about for now...


Which Captain Wentworth do you prefer?

Ciaran Hinds (Persuasion 1995)
Rupert Penry-Jones (Persuasion 2007)
Other
Please Specify:
trivia quiz


3. MR. DARCY

The character: The proud and prejudiced man with a secret heart of gold for the ones he loves that gets off on the wrong foot with Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice.

Best Portrayal:

When most people think of Mr. Darcy, Colin Firth immediately comes to mind. Just not my mind. He's a fine Darcy, but I much prefer Matthew McFadyen's nuanced and incredibly romantic rendition of the classic character. He softens the viewer (well the ones that are open to having a Darcy besides Firth anyway...) the same way he softens Elizabeth, where you're both falling for him at the same time. And by the end? Chills. He delivers his speech to Elizabeth in an incredibly cinematic way that basically makes everyone swoon.

Worst Portrayal:

The worst Darcy has to be Elliot Cowan in Lost in Austen. He's incredibly rude and not that handsome. He legitimately makes you want Amanda to end up with Wickham. Plus let's be honest...Amanda should not be in the equation for him to end up with at ALL. What kind of Darcy would go for her anyway??? The worst kind, that's what. But I'll finish this rant tomorrow in the heroines section. Though it IS funny when she makes him do the pond scene for her.


Worth Mentioning: I already mentioned the popular Colin Firth, but he's not the Darcy who started it all! That honor goes to Laurence Olivier. For modern Darcys we have Orlando Seale in Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy and Daniel Vincent Gordh in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Orlando is pretty decent, while Daniel kind of has an awkward hipster vibe to him...which is how they wrote the character so he definitely works for that adaptation. Plus FINALLY getting to see him after all the time spent wondering what he'll be like is THE BEST. There's the version in Death Comes to Pemberley which shallow internet people like myself loathed since they thought the Darcy was too haggard. In PPZ we're treated to a Darcy with an insanely rasphy voice, but eventually like most Darcys he grows on you. Also there's Martin Henderson's decent, but forgettable take in Bride & Prejudice


Which Mr. Darcy is your favorite??

Sam Riley (Pride & Prejudice & Zombies)
Matthew McFadyen (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Daniel Vincent Gordh (Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Matthew Rhys (Death Comes to Pemberley)
Colin Firth (Pride and Prejudice 1995)
Elliot Cowan (Lost in Austen)
Laurence Olivier (Pride & Prejudice 1940)
Orlando Seale (Latter-Day Comedy)
Martin Henderson (Bride & Prejudice)
Other
Please Specify:
Do Quizzes

2. MR. KNIGHTLEY

The character: Emma's longtime friend, mentor, and secret admirer in Emma. He's loving and kind, but doesn't shy away from putting Emma in her place when she does something wrong...in hopes of teaching her lessons to become a better person.

Best Portrayal:

There are three strong contenders to take the number one spot, but it HAS to go to Jeremy Northam's Mr. Kingthley. He is absolutely PERFECT. He has just the right amount of reprimanding Emma while still completely loving her and secretly adoring her. He is the perfect Knightley, and his speech at the end would pretty much make anyone melt. 

Worst Portrayal:

I didn't much like Johnny Lee Miller's "grumpy cat" take on the performance, but the worst has to be the Knightley from Mark Strong. I only remember two things about him. He yelled a lot and he wasn't very attractive. An Emma is only as good as its Knightley, and because of Mark Strong I will never go back and watch that version.


Worth Mentioning: As I mentioned in the best portrayal category, there are two strong runners-up to Jeremy Northam in Paul Rudd (Clueless) and Brent Bailey (Emma Approved). Both are absolutely adorable boy next doors with loads of common sense. They reign their Emmas in when needed and do their best to teach them to become better people. But their hearts break whenever their Emmas are in trouble or heartbroken themselves.


Which Mr. Knightley is your favorite?

Jeremy Northam (Emma 1996)
Johnny Lee Miller (Emma 2009)
Paul Rudd (Clueless)
Brent Bailey (Emma Approved)
Mark Strong (Emma 1996)
Other
Please Specify:
poll creator

1. HENRY TILNEY

The Character: The adorable son of General Tilney (Lord of Northanger Abbey,) who Catherine Morland meets on her vacation to Bath in Northanger Abbey.

BEST & ONLY PORTRAYAL WORTH TALKING ABOUT:

Yes it's true, the hero that isn't the most mainstream or known by casual Austen fans is my favorite. Mr. Tilney is like Mr. Knightley with a bit more of a sense of humor and a lot less lecturing. In addition to humor, he's also incredibly intelligent and very kind. He adores Catherine and wants to be her protector, but he also is not about to indulge her when she needs some tough love. Plus he's played by JJ Field who also gave us the equally adorable Henry Nobly in Austenland, so letting Tilney win was kinda like letting Nobly win (even though the characters are very different.)


Is JJ Field the most adorable Henry Tilney er what?

Yes!
No!
Other
Please Specify:
personality test


HONORARY HUNKS: As I mentioned, Henry Nobly is the most adorable character in rom-coms of the last decade. Captain East is a hilarious hunk that is welcome eye candy.  Hugh Dancy is utterly sweet and adorable in The Jane Austen Book Club. Donald Faison's Murray essentially gets the Mr. Weston role in Clueless and is more hilarious than hunky, but I'll bestow him a mention nonetheless. Kate Beckinsale's prime target in Love & Friendship is adorable and an Austen hunk in the making. If only he had a more worthy lass to romance.