2.22.2016

Austen Awards: Sisters, Friends and Mothers


Today's installment of the Austen awards is for the supporting characters that help (or sometimes hinder) our heroines. The friends, sisters & mothers of Austen. Since supporting characters is so broad a topic and there was no way I could cover them all, please let me know which of your favorites didn't make the list.

10. Margaret Dashwood & Mrs. Dashwood

The characters: Mother and sister to Elinor and Marianne Dashwood in Sense & Sensibility.

Best Portrayal:
Both the '95 and '08 versions of these characters are solid and have different strengths. Mrs. Dashwood in '08 seemed to have her emotions a little bit more together, and to be more of a mother you could depend on. The Margaret in that version was a beautiful little girl who was charming, but we needed to see more of. Their counterparts in '95 are a little different. The mother isn't quite a pillar of strength, and the audience can see a little bit of where Marianne gets some of her behavior from. Margaret is a funny, precocious child and makes the most of her screentime. I really liked both counterparts, so I'm giving it a tie.

Worst Portrayal:
I'm gonna have to go with the plot device version in Scents & Sensibility. The mother shows up for a few scenes here and there, but it doesn't make much sense why she wouldn't be trying to help more in the actual plot (where the two sisters try to find jobs to pay for their sudden lack of fortune.) Also, Margaret is relegated to having cancer and never being seen, so that the filmmakers can glean sympathy from the audience. Ehhh.

Worth Mentioning: That's all folks! Margaret doesn't appear in From Prada to Nada. Also, I haven't previously mentioned this, but there's a Bollywood version that I have yet to see...so I can't comment on her status in that film either.


Which Margaret & Mrs Dashwood are your favorite?

Emilie Francois & Gemma Jones (Sense and Sensibility 1995)
Janet McTeer & Lucy Boynton (Sense & Sensibility 2008)
Both!
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

9. Charlotte Lucas

The character: Best friend of Elizabeth Bennet and spinster in the making....until she settles for Mr. Collins in Pride & Prejudice.
Best Portrayal:
No one has ever made the character of Charlotte Lucas shine like Julia Cho in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Honestly, the modern update of the character is often times more likable than the titular heroine herself. Sure she might not be the truest to the book version, but she's definitely the most enjoyable version of the character to grace the screen.

Worst Portrayal:


The Charlotte Lucas in Lost in Austen is really....strange. She gets off on the wrong foot with Elizabeth Bennet's stand in Amanda Price, and with her destiny altered from being Mrs. Collins, she winds up in Africa never to be heard from again. No one seems that sad about it either...

Worth Mentioning: The Charlotte Lucases in the '95, 05, and PPZ versions are fine, but don't really make too much of an impact....but like I mentioned before, the character isn't really supposed to. Also, don't forget Carmen Rassmussen's breakthrough role/cameo as Charlotte Lucas in Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy. Her one scene of dialogue is kinda painful, but funny.

Who is your favorite Charlotte Lucas?

Julia Cho (Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Claudie Blakely (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Lucy Scott (Pride and Prejudice 95)
Aisling Loftus (PPZ)
Carmen Rasmussen (A Latter Day Comedy)
Michelle Duncan (Lost in Austen)
Other
Please Specify:
Personality

8. Kitty Bennet

The character: The second youngest sister, and the Bennet with the least to do in Pride & Prejudice. Extremely close with Lydia, she is prone to similar bad behavior as her youngest sister. 

Best Portrayal:
Knowing that Kitty is the throwaway Bennet sister in Pride & Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries cleverly just made their version an actual cat who belongs to Lydia. Brilliant. My other favorite take is Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day comedy. 



The Kitty in that is really unique and funny. Though she is a lackey of Lydia, she still has her own personality and is a lot of fun. Most versions seem to just make a clone of whoever their Lydia is, and some cut the character entirely.

Worst Portrayal:
Lost in Austen and Pride and Prejudice '95 give us Kitties to rival Mary in plainness. And boringness. 

Worth Mentioning: Carey Mulligan's first starring role was playing Kitty in the 2005 version. Her Kitty could be better, but could certainly do worse. Perhaps she'd have been better if she had had a better Lydia counterpart.



Who is your favorite Kitty Bennet?

the cat (Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Carey Mulligan (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Florence Hoath (Lost in Austen)
Suki Waterhouse (PPZ)
Polly Maberly (Pride and Prejudice 95)
Nicole Hamilton (Latter-Day Comedy)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker


7. Mary Bennet

The character: The black sheep daughter of the Bennet family in Pride & Prejudice. Most versions portray her as the nerdy sister and a loner. She would much rather read a book than be forced to socialize.
Best Portrayal:
I really like Tallulah Riley's take in the 2005 Pride & Prejudice. Every other version seems satisfied to throw some glasses on their Mary and call it good, assuming that the audience will pick up that she's the nerdy one...without giving her much depth or personality. I think there's a lot of interesting things going on with this Mary, just from subtle looks. She tries very hard to fit in, but it's just not very natural for her...and everyone around her just feels the awkwardness.

Worst Portrayal:
I'm not even positive if Mary gets to speak a word in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. The actress was okay in her one or two scenes, but it would have been nice to see more from her.


Worth Mentioning: The glasses thing started early! Even the 40's version   was all about it! The '95 version, as well as Lost in Austen followed suit on that portrayal as well.  On the alternative side, I do like the version we meet in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries a lot. She's a good influence on Lydia when Lydia allows her to be. She's very intelligent, and she's not as charismatic as everyone else on the series...she's very low key, and you sense that her personality is just different from everyone else (which is why you don't see her more regularly.) Oh and also we have the lovable, but incredibly dorky version in Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy.




Who is your favorite Mary Bennet?

Tallulah Riley (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Rainy Kerwin (Latter-Day Comedy)
Millie Brady (PPZ)
Ruby Bentall (Lost in Austen)
Lucy Briers (Pride and Prejudice 95)
Briana Cuoco (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Other
Please Specify:
Personality


6. Mrs. Weston

The character: Former governess and current best friend to Emma Woodhouse in Emma
Best Portrayal:
Dionne is oh so fabulous. Really. How could I pick anyone but her? She is a fabulous sidekick and incredibly hilarious. But most importantly, she does seem to be able to ground Cher from time to time (while still living in the same world with her and wanting the same things.)

Worst Portrayal:
Okay, I didn't really hate the version in Emma Approved, but she's probably my least favorite because she wasn't in it nearly enough. I wish she had been far more involved in this adaptation because Emma needed some reigning in from someone other than Knightley.


Worth Mentioning: I really like both the Mrs. Westons in the '96 and '09 versions. They do their best not to indulge some of Emma's flaws, but occasionally they can't help but gossip and hypothesize with her.


Which Mrs. Weston is your favorite?

Stacey Dash (Dionne - Clueless)
Greta Scacchi (Emma 96)
Jodhi May (Emma 09)
Alexis Boozer Sterling (Emma Approved)
Other
Please Specify:
facebook poll

5. Georgiana Darcy

The character: Little sister to Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. Her good nature helps Elizabeth see the real character of the Darcys.
Best Portrayal:
Once again, The Lizzie Bennet diaries takes a small character, and with a perfect casting decision, transforms them into a really memorable one. This Gigi is beautiful, sophisticated and kind. Plus she really acts like a sibling to her brother in the usual ways, but also a sibling who really respects her brother and only wishes for his happiness. She is incredibly likable.

Worst Portrayal:
I don't remember the '95 version of the character well enough to comment, so I suppose I'll go with the Lost in Austen version this time. She's only in it for a couple scenes, and while she does the job adequately enough...her version of the character is a liar. Which is a fun twist on the story, but definitely has to win her the award here.

Worth Mentioning: The Georgiana in the 2005 version is incredibly sweet, and looks (and seems) incredibly young.  She's in it briefly, but is very likable. Also likable in her short appearance is Honor Bliss in the 2003 Latter-Day Comedy version. She's a lovely and kind version of the character. Also, of note is the Death Comes to Pemberley version who is so incredibly stunning she easily outshines the very plain Elizabeth in that version. And one last Gigi to mention would be Alexis Bledel in Bride & Prejudice who gives a solid, likable version (even if she is playing her self...)


Who is your favorite Georgiana Darcy?

Allison Paige (Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Tamzin Merchant (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Emilia Fox (Pride and Prejudice 95)
Genevieve Gaunt (Lost in Austen)
Eleanor Tomlinson (Death Comes to Pemberley)
Honor Bliss (Latter-Day Comedy)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

4. Harriet Smith

The character: The inexperienced and incredibly trusting protege who Emma Woodhouse takes under her wing in Emma. Naive and innocent, she allows Emma Woodhouse to govern every thought and action.

Best Portrayal:
To me, Dayeanne Hutton is an absolutely perfect Harriet. She idolizes Emma so much and is just happy to be in her presence that it's incredibly easy to understand how she would be so easy to convince to do anything. Yet, she is so incredibly good-hearted, sweet and awkward, you can also see why Emma thinks she'd make such a perfect project

Worst Portrayal:
I don't think I really have a huge problem with any of the interpretations. Toni Collette seemed a little old for the role, but I love her in everything and thought she was funny enough. Louise Dylan in the 2009 version was one of the more boring takes, but I don't think she really did a bad job.

Worth Mentioning: Brittany Murphy in Clueless is absolutely hilarious. She has a little bit too much edge though to be my favorite of the Harriets, but as a movie character...she is so funny and memorable. 



Which Harriet is your favorite?

Dayeanne Hutton (Emma Approved)
Brittany Murphy (Tai - Clueless)
Toni Collette (Emma 96)
Louise Dylan (Emma 09)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

3. Lydia Bennet

The character: The youngest and most carefree and troublesome daughter of the Bennets in Pride & Prejudice. Her reckless behavior is a key element in bringing Darcy and Elizabeth together.

Best Portrayal:
Once again, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries wins this round. Their Lydia is by far the most well-rounded and likable of the bunch. She's given a real character arc that as a result leaves her character with a lot of depth...and makes way for some great sisterly moments with Elizabeth at the end. My runner up would be Kelly Stables similarly feisty red-head (though less of a party girl and more of a husband hunting schemer) in 2003's Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy.

Worst Portrayal:
I think I'm actually gonna give this to a tie for the '95 and '05 versions. The '95 one is too old and too crazy... and Jena Malone in '05 is by far the weak link of the cast with regard to the Bennet girls. She's incredibly obnoxious...which I do realize is part of the character, but it's a bit much. Hard to believe she supposedly came from the same gene pool as Rosamund Pike and Keira Knightley.

Worth Mentioning: Red-headed Lydias are the best Lydias. The PPZ version is a lot of fun, but I would have loved more of her. Also, the Death Comes to Pemberley version outshines Elizabeth in beauty just as the Georgiana does. Come on guys, Elizabeth was supposed to be second only to Jane in beauty! Lost in Austen's Lydia is good, but incredibly tame and pretty normal for someone that Elizabeth worries to be an embarrassment to her family.


Which Lydia Bennet is your favorite?

Mary Kate Wiles (Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Ellie Bamber (PPZ)
Jena Malone (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Julia Sawalha (Pride and Prejudice 95)
Jenna Coleman (Death Comes to Pemberley)
Other
Please Specify:
Personality

2. Jane Bennet

The character: The kindest and most beautiful of the Bennet daughters in Pride & Prejudice. Best friend to Elizabeth, she always tries to see the good in everyone, while her sister often disagrees.

Best Portrayal:


I couldn't choose between the lovely and elegant portrayal by Rosamund Pike in the 2005 version, and the sweet and fleshed out take by Laura Spencer in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Rosamund is exactly how I envision Jane. Stunning and graceful. But Laura Spencer is given more time with the role and really makes it her own. She's more than just a beauty, and her kind nature is incredibly endearing. She's a perfect contrast to Lizzie.

Worst Portrayal:
Call me superficial, but one of Jane's requirements as a character is to exceed Elizabeth in beauty...since you know, everyone always talks about how she's the beauty of the family. The '95 version did not achieve that by a long shot, and her character's personality doesn't sparkle in any way that would make her really stand out to Mr. Bingley.


Worth Mentioning: Bella Heathcote has an ethereal beauty that enables her to be the perfect Jane alongside Lily James. Lucila Sola in the 2003 Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy is a really fun and unique take on Jane. Lost in Austen gives us a very typical Jane, but also a very kind one. She's one of the most likable characters in that series, and someone you can always root for when Amanda's story lets you down.

Which Jane Bennet is your favorite?

Rosamund Pike (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Laura Spencer (Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Bella Heathcote (PPZ)
Susannah Harker (Pride and Prejudice 95)
Lucila Sola (Latter-Day Comedy)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

1. Mrs. Bennet

The character: The eccentric and often hysterical mother who is dedicated to the task of finding all of her daughters husbands in Pride & Prejudice.

Best Portrayal:

The '95 version wins favor with me for the ridiculous winking scene alone, but Brenda Blethyn's take in '05 is very good. She has a good balance of being incredibly dramatic without being too cartoonish, and you get the sense that she really is trying to look out for her daughters' futures.
Worst Portrayal:
I pretty well like all versions of this character. All of them have their annoying moments, but all actresses gave this part their all.

Worth Mentioning: Sally Phillips in PPZ and Alex Kingston both give amiable takes on Mrs. Bennet. Sally's is a far less outlandish take on the role which is welcome, while Kingston certainly has her moments...but on the all is definitely looking out for her daughters' well-being. Also, while The Lizzie Bennet Diaries never *really* shows the important character of Mrs. Bennet, she is still very much a part of the story through her daughter's impersonation of her.



Which Mrs. Bennet is your favorite?

Brenda Blethyn (Pride & Prejudice 05)
Ashley Clements' impression (Lizzie Bennet Diaries)
Sally Phillips (PPZ)
Alex Kingston (Lost in Austen)
Alison Steadman (Pride and Prejudice 95)
Other
Please Specify:
Poll Maker

Other noteworthy supporting characters:
Mr. Bennet (well done in Lost in Austen and PPZ), Mary (Persuasion...great in both versions),  Mrs. Bates (Emma; great in Clueless, Emma Approved and Emma '96) Robert Martin (great Emma Approved, sweet in Emma '96,) Jane Fairfax (didn't care for her in Emma Approved, liked her for different reasons in '96 and '09.), Mrs. Jennings (hilarious in Sense and Sensibility '95), Mr. & Mrs. Palmer (also great in '95!)


Honorary Austen friends: Elizabeth Charming, Amelia Heartwright, the pug named Austen in a Latter-Day comedy. The book club in Jane Austen's book club?

4 comments:

Sarah said...

What!? Robbery! Mrs. Bennet is NOT my bestie!

Alli kAe said...

Just for kicks - you should check out Bride and Prejudice. Austin meets Bollywood. It's great. ;)

Alli kAe said...

Just for kicks - you should check out Bride and Prejudice. Austin meets Bollywood. It's great. ;)

Emily said...

I've seen it. None of the supporting characters made much of an impression (though Alexis Bledel's Gigi made the list here on the Georgianas.) They'll be making an appearance on the Elizabeth and Darcy lists though.