Hello, dear readers! Welcome to the Austen Awards. Here, I will recount the many adaptations done of Jane Austen's work, and break down the portrayals into different categories. Each category will have contenders ranked within the category, where I will determine the best and worst version of each character. I will include polls so if you disagree with me, you can have your vote counted there. And at the end, per post we'll have a personality quiz that goes along with the theme of the day. And as always, any comments you have about my rankings or picks of best & worst, feel free to mention it in the comments below. Now onto the subject at hand. Our first Austen Awards post will be celebrating the men that Jane Austen wrote who gave us the heebie-jeebies. Whether they were goobers, or jerks, this is the place where they will be celebrated.
Edit: EEEE GADS! I just realized I overlooked a very important creep AND cad: Mr. Elton. I'm gonna place him as #8, but really he probably overtakes John Thorpe at #4. Unfortunately though, he will not be placed into the soulmates quiz. It's too late for that, and he already found his perfect woman in Mrs. Elton anyway.
The character: A social climber and usually a kiss-up in Emma. He can be particularly cruel if you've crossed him, or if he thinks you're beneath him.
This was honestly one of the harder choices!!! I really love Jeremy Sisto's take. He's slimy, but you can see why Cher would think he's a catch for her friend. I feel the same way about Emma Approved's version as well....and almost even feel bad for him in his misreading Emma's feelings. But he certainly earns his creep status with how cold he is to her afterward. I'm not sure if Alan Cumming's take on the character is necessarily the best...but I find it super entertaining too. He's such a kiss up and his line delivery is honestly hilarious.
Honestly, I think everyone brings something fun to this role...and if there has been a genuinely bad portrayal, I guess I haven't seen it yet.
Worth Mentioning: Blake Ritson (who also happens to play Edmund Bertram in the 2007 Mansfield Park,) does a solid job in the part too. Certainly more of a catch than Alan Cumming's version, but still kind of a simpering fool.
7. HENRY CRAWFORD
The Character: A scheming playboy, who is capable of developing genuine feelings, if fleetingly in Mansfield Park. He ranks last on the list though, because you get the sense that if someone good did give him a chance, maybe he could change.
Alessandro Nivola's Henry Crawford in the 1999 adaptation is so likable, he makes a good chunk of the viewers wish that the heroine Fanny picked him, despite his playboy ways. His feelings for Fanny seem genuine, and you can't help but feel bad for him when he gets shut down. You don't excuse his ways, but wonder if things had happened differently, if he could have been good.
Joseph Beattie wasn't particularly bad in the 2007 version, but he certainly didn't leave much of an impression...besides that awful hair.
Worth mentioning: We pretty much covered the versions of note, but there is, of course, an adaptation from the 80's I have not seen (you'll find there's ALWAYS a version from the 80's that I have not seen.) Also, there's a Youtube version (NOT by Pemberley digital, and thus not of interest to me) adapted for modern times. Also, many people consider Whit Stillman's Metropolitan to be a loose Mansfield Park adaptation. I saw that a couple years ago, but must confess I don't recall it specifically to report on the Henry Crawford counterpart.
6. MR. ELLIOT
The Character: A social climber who likes to keep some women on the side in Persuasion. Rank is very important to him, and he'll do anything he can to seem proper to society. Mr. Elliot is kind of a recycled man from Austen's previous works. There's not much truly unique to him...except for the fact that his feelings for the heroine may be genuine, he still uses her for gain.
I slightly prefer Tobias Menzies take in the 2007 version, but honestly I don't really love either. Again, I believe this is due to the fact that this particular Austen gentleman isn't really that fleshed out in the book, so he seems like simply an obstacle in both films.
Truth be told, I don't hate the 1995 version...other than that he reminds me of a Leprechaun. Or Prince Caspian from that BBC version... (99% sure it is him.)
Worth mentioning: No. Not an 80's version I haven't seen... a 70's version. There REALLY needs to be a modern day one. Come on Pemberley Digital. Please make one.
5. FRANK CHURCHILL
The Character: A social butterfly of a man who loves to gossip, spread rumors, and talk smack about pretty much anyone in Emma. He's incredibly secretive and will use anyone to get what he wants, regardless of their possible feelings.
I'm gonna have to give this to the 2009 version. I'll be honest and say that I don't really particularly love anyone's take on this guy, but Rupert Evans's is probably the most alluring.
I hate to say it because I love Ewan McGregor, but his Frank Churchill is probably the worst for his hair alone. Ewan is great in everything, but his Frank Churchill is lacking the ability to be a foil for the hero that we can actually take seriously.
Worth Mentioning: Christian from Clueless is good in the sense that he's a character who class-wise seems on par with the lead, but he's still not really how I picture Frank Churchill. Emma Approved's version is hit or miss for me. Sometimes he's spot on, other times he's pretty iffy. There was a version with Kate Beckinsale that also came out during the 90's, but I wasn't a fan and have faded it from my memory.
4. JOHN THORPE
The character: An arrogant creeper who will do anything in his power to marry into wealth in Northanger Abbey.
By default, being the only version I've ever seen I will give it to 2007's Thorpe played by William Beck. He's certainly good at being a creep.
Ditto the last entry. Yeah he's good at being a creep, but you'd have to be crazy to consider him an actual romantic option, especially when placed against JJ Field.
Worth Mentioning: Once again, there's a version from the 80's that I haven't seen. Also a non-Pemberley Digital youtube version. But also worth discussing is the fact that Northanger Abbey actually has two other scumbag male characters in the form of Tilney's brother and father. They probably deserved spots on this list as well, (one a playboy, the other a jerk who only cares about money,) but I didn't quite have the energy to devote to them.
We'll skip the poll on this one, but if you feel incredibly strongly about him...let me know in the comments.
3. JOHN WILLOUGHBY
The character: a cowardly heartbreaker who lets money get in the way of his own happiness in Sense & Sensibility.
It's a tough choice between Greg Wise and the fella from Mamma Mia, but I have to go with the former. He's the perfect incarnation of the character, a romance hero come to life...only too cowardly to do the right thing.
Tie between the modern adapted versions in From Prada to Nada and Scents and Sensibility. Both are absolutely forgettable for a character who is supposed to be Marianne's perfectly passionate man.
Worth mentioning: Dominic Cooper from the 2008 version does a fine enough job....but couldn't really have been THAT great since apparently the internet doesn't have a single gif of him in this role. For goodness sakes!
2. MR. WICKHAM
The character: a liar, a fiend, and a guy who is very bad with money in Pride & Prejudice. He'll use anyone to get what he wants, whether it's a physical need or a monetary one.
The Lizzie Bennet diaries version of Wickham takes the cake. Through Lydia's videos, his character really gets fleshed out, and you can really understand how she's taken in by him...and how predatory he really is. This guy is a user and abuser, but it's so easy to fall for his tricks.
Rupert Friend's take on Wickham is far too wooden and bland to be a tempting alternative to Darcy. Let's be honest here and say what we're all thinking, he's a poor man's Orlando Bloom which is why he got the job.
Worth Mentioning: The 2003 "Latter-Day Comedy" has a perfectly smarmy version of Wickham, that if it weren't for the updated LBD one might take the cake. Also of note is Tom Riley's take in Lost in Austen. He makes his Wickham so darn likable that you wish that Amanda Price end up with him.
1. MR. COLLINS
The character: the doofus that NO girl wants to end up with in Pride & Prejudice. At least that's the way they always seem to cast him when making any kind of adaptation. If there's one character almost every version gets right it's Collins.
This was the hardest one to pick, and so instead I'm giving you a three-way tie between the newest and wryest Collins in Matt Smith, the short monotone flatterer Tom Hollander plays in the 2005 version, and the spiritual zealot played by Hubbel Palmer in the 2003 "Latter-Day Comedy." Each is hilarious in the role, while maintaining that appropriate level of gooberness that is needed to be a good Collins.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries version gets my vote for the sole reason that to me....he's not that bad. In fact, he's kind of precious. Yeah he talks a lot and is annoying, but hardly what I think of when I think of how bad Mr. Collins should be.
Worth Mentioning: The Lost in Austen Collins is beyond creepy. The '95 BBC version is funny, but almost seems cartoonish at times.
Bret McKenzie in Austenland, Jimmy Smits in The Jane Austen Book Club... I'm never sure if we're supposed to root for him or not. Hugh Grant in Bridget Jone's Diary (though I won't be including that film in too many of the lists, I know it's an Austen wannabe, but Bridget is no modern Elizabeth.)
And now the moment you've all been waiting for.... the quiz that let's you know which one of these cads or creeps is your soulmate. And if you're not into dudes, you can take the quiz more like a personality test and find out which one you're most like.