As the days start to draw in and we reach once again for the cozy jumpers, thoughts inevitably turn to snuggling on the sofa on a Sunday night with a good period drama. Well, my thoughts do anyway.
So get the popcorn in, and ready yourself for these 11 period drama films which will keep you entertained all the way up until the end of November.
(Please note that due to the ongoing pandemic release dates are still being pushed back at late notice. At the time of writing this post all info is up to date. Make sure you bookmark my period drama guide for all the latest period drama release dates in the UK.)
Period Drama Films – September 2021
This period drama has been pushed back time and time again due to the pandemic, but it finally looks like cinema goers will be treated to Oscar-winning Jennifer Hudson’s portrayal of Queen of Soul and musical icon Aretha Franklin.
Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a young child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, this biopic the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice. Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald and Mary J Blige make up a stellar supporting cast.
Period Drama Films – October 2021
There’s a lot of buzz around this one! The Last Duel is based on a book by Eric Yager that recounts the story of the last legally sanctioned duel in France’s history. The subject matter may sound a bit dry – but we can expect great things due to the team of heavyweights behind this film. This is the first time Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (who also star) have collaborated on a screenplay since their Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting in 1997. Add heavyweight director Ridley Scott and actress of the moment Jodie Comer into the mix, and we have a proper historical epic on our hands!
Despite taking place in the 14th Century, this film looks set to be a very timely and relevant one, examining themes of consent and reputation in a time when the #MeToo movement is more important than ever.
Would it be a period drama list without a bit of Shakespeare?! At the time of writing this post we know very little about this new adaptation of the Scottish play. All we know is it is a black and white film and the cast and crew have more Oscars than you could shake a stick at! Another film with potential for awards season perhaps?
Two times Oscar winer Denzil Washington plays Macbeth, and four times Oscar winner Frances McDormand plays his wife. They are directed by Joel Coen (who has four Oscars – so that’s 10 Oscars so far for those of you keeping track) in his first solo directing outing without his brother.
UPDATE: Release delayed until 14th January 2022 on Apple TV – check out my 2022 period drama guide for more info.
The French Dispatch brings to life three whimsical stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city in a (aesthetically pleasing and kooky) way that only director Wes Anderson can. Critics are calling it ‘the most Anderson of all Anderson films’, so fans are in for a treat.
As is typical for a Wes Anderson film, The French Dispatch has a stellar ensemble cast. It stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.
Now this is one period drama film I am really looking forward to! The storyline sounds intriguing, and I think spooky period drama films are just perfect for Halloween! Plus I just LOVE Ana Taylor Joy as an actress.
This is not a 100% period drama film – Last Night In Soho is set in both the present day and the 1960s. An aspiring fashion designer is mysteriously able to enter the past where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer. But the glamour is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something darker. I don’t want to say anything more as I don’t want to spoil the suspense!
Period Drama Films – November 2021
Netflix likes to keep us on their toes with their period drama releases ( I touched on how they like to push the box with their period drama content in this post) – so I couldn’t imagine anyone else but the streaming service bringing us as a 21st Century Western led by a stellar ensemble cast of black actors.
What most people aren’t talking about is the fact this film is largely based on a lot of true history. When an outlaw (Jonathan Majors) discovers his enemy (Idris Elba) is being released from prison, he reunites his gang to seek revenge in this Western. This gang is based on the Rufus Buck Gang, a real life multi racial outlaw gang, and the actors are based on real life figures from the Wild West. If there is one film to fall down an historical research rabbit hole with, its this one!
Royal drama sells – just look at Netflix’s The Crown. So it was only a matter of time before Hollywood gave the Princess Diana story the silver screen treatment.
However, unlike The Crown, Spencer focuses on just three days in history. During her Christmas holidays with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, England, Diana (played by Kristen Stewart) decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles (played by Poldark’s Jack Farthing).
Early Oscar buzz is predicting a best actress win for Kristen, but I don’t see how anyone can beat Emma Corrin and her performance in The Crown. I’m just going to have to watch the film and make up my mind, aren’t I?
Due to be released in the US on the 10th of September, this Amazon Prime film doesn’t have a UK release date yet, but we can expect one imminently.
Period drama stalwart Benedict Cumberbatch stars as British artist Louis Wain in the extraordinary true story of a brilliant man inspired by both his love of the world and the love of his life, Emily (Claire Foy). Wain was famous for his distinctive paintings of cats and was also an inspiration who defied obstacles throughout his life.
UPDATE: Release delayed until 1st January 2022 on Amazon Prime – check out my 2022 period drama guide for more info.
Now this is a film I’ve been really looking forward to. Netflix’s Passing tells the story of two black women living in 1920s New York. One of the women (played by Ruth Negga) passes for white and even has a white husband who doesn’t know she’s black.
Her friend (played by Tessa Thompson) struggles with this decision. Initial reviews are calling this film beautiful and moving, so one to watch with a box of tissues, and I think it could be a slow burner that does well at awards season.
I am expecting great things from the latest film written and direct by Kenneth Branagh. Belfast centres on a young boy’s childhood amid the tumult of the Northern Irish city in the 1960s. Branagh is calling it his most personal film to date (his family moved from Belfast to Reading when he was 9 years old to escape The Troubles).
Apart from that we still don’t know much about this film apart from the cast list. Catriona Balfe (Outlander) and Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) play the boy’s ‘glamorous, working-class’ parents, with the legend that is Dame Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds playing his grandparents.
UPDATE: Release delayed until 21st January – check out my 2022 period drama guide for more info.
The second Ridley Scott-directed film on the list (what a busy man!), House of Gucci stars Lady Gaga as Patrizia Reggiani, who was tried and convicted of orchestrating the assassination of her ex-husband and former head of the Gucci fashion house Maurizio Gucci, portrayed by Adam Driver.
We all love the glamour of our period dramas about fashion – and House of Gucci is set to be no exception! However, most people are talking about Jared Leto’s totally unrecognisable transformation into Paulo Gucci (you have to check it out)!
So which period drama film are you most looking forward to watching this autumn? Let us know in the comments below.
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