Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in Bridgerton season 3
(Netflix)

Can’t Wait for ‘Bridgerton’ Season 3? Watch These 10 Movies!

Bridgerton season three is just around the corner, but we still have a little longer to wait! If you need a fix before then and you’ve already rewatched the series once or twice (or more), we have some great films to watch to get you in the Bridgerton mood.

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Based on the books by Julia Quinn and adapted for television by Chris Van Dusen and Shondaland, Bridgerton’s mix of period drama with modern flair and flourish (as well as steamy R-rated scenes) has had everyone in a tizzy. The third season is out soon, but until then, maybe these swoon-worthy titles can hold you over.

1. Mr. Malcom’s List (2022)

Mr. Malcom's List with Freida Pinto and Zawe Aston
(Universal Pictures)

Mr. Malcom’s List is yet another perfect example of why period dramas can expand their horizons when it comes to casting. This charming Regency period romance drama has everything you could want from the genre: deception, female friendship, balls, love, betrayal, and British people realizing that to love they must first let down their high walls.

In this film, the notorious bachelor Mr. Malcom is quite the prize, but he has a list of requirements for a woman to be considered “wife material.” (Remind you of a certain older brother at all?) After having been rejected and humiliated, Julia Thistlewaite pulls in her friend Selina Dalton to get a little payback, but just as we all knew, things don’t go quite as they should. It stars Freida Pinto, Sope Dirisu, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Zawe Ashton, and Ashley Park as the lords and ladies of this particular Regency drama.

2. Pride and Prejudice (2005)

"Pride and Prejudice" where Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen touch their heads together tenderly with their eyes closed.
(Focus Features)

Bridgerton has been inspired by a wealth of period dramas, and the absolute queen of period drama storytelling has to be Jane Austen. Though she wrote many novels, her most famous has to be Pride and Prejudice, a story told and retold over and over again thanks to its phenomenal characters, excellent storyline, and possibly the best enemies-to-lovers arc ever told in Western literature.

The 2005 film starring Kiera Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen is beloved for its sumptuous Regency period design, beautiful music, and sizzling chemistry between its two leads. Bridgerton is one of many stories to have taken inspiration from Pride and Prejudice, with season two in particular focusing on its own enemies-to-lovers arc, with two strong-willed, hot-headed individuals finding that underneath all their arguing and bickering, they’re perfect for one another. If you love romance, period drama, and swooning over the flick of a hand, then this movie is a must-watch. (And if you haven’t seen it already, what are you doing?!)

3. Emma (2020)

Two white women in period piece wardrobe in the film 'Emma'
(Focus Features)

Yet another Austen classic, Emma, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Mia Goth, and Johnny Flynn, is another Regency period story with a strong, intelligent (if occasionally obtuse) female character at the center. Much like the mamas of the ton in Bridgerton, Emma is obsessed with matching everyone, pushing her friend Harriet away from one relationship and into another. Her meddling ends up biting her in the end, and she comes to terms with the fact that she needs to let go of her interfering ways while also realizing that her longtime friend Mr. Knightley can perhaps offer more than just friendship.

Another Regency period drama, there are plenty of parallels between Emma and Bridgerton, so much so that some fans have pointed out similar scenes between the movie and season 3’s trailer. Colin and Penelope’s relationship is very similar to that of Mr. Knightley and Emma, childhood friends who are destined to become something more.

4. Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes starring Millie Bobby Brown as Enola and Henry Cavill as Sherlock
(Netflix)

If you love strong women pushing back against the patriarchy all set against a period backdrop, then Enola Holmes is for you. We don’t know what it is with names starting with the letter E, but they seem to be great detectives, with Eloise serving as our budding detective in Bridgerton. In Enola Holmes, it is, of course, the titular character. Both these women wish to rise above what society expects of them and are willing to put themselves in danger to do just that, and don’t forget the romance element, of course!

Though not quite on the same level as Bridgerton, this film is one of the few period movies that is a little more inclusive in its casting, with Susan Wokoma playing Edith and Adheel Akhtar as Inspector Lestrade.

5. Much Ado About Nothing (1993)

ladies run down the hill
(Columbia Pictures)

From Austen, we are now jumping even further into the past to hang out with Shakespeare. Another writer known for his romantic work, Shakespeare also had an epic enemies-to-lovers storyline between two feisty, opinionated, passionate, intelligent people in the form of Benedick and Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. They do say there are only 10 storylines in the world, and this one is well-loved for good reason.

One of the better film adaptions of the play has to be Kenneth Branagh’s 1993 film, which he adapted, directed, and starred in (very on-brand for him). Alongside Branagh, Emma Thompson, Robert Sean Leonard, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves, and Kate Beckinsale make up the star-studded cast.

6. The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019)

Dev Patel in The Personal History of David Copperfield (2019)
(Fox Searchlight)

If you love Bridgerton for being a period story with inclusive casting, then you might want to check out Dev Patel in the film adaption of Charles Dicken’s The Personal History of David Copperfield. A charming period piece, this time set in Victorian England, the film follows the tumultuous life of its titular character, the ups and downs, and all the weird and wonderful characters he meets along the way.

It’s a captivating watch, with great set design and cinematography that make it a visual pleasure, not to mention to fantastic cast which includes Peter Capaldi, Hugh Laurie, Tilda Swinton, Benedict Wong, Ben Whishaw, and Gwendoline Christie.

7. Austenland (2013)

Austenland with Keri Russell as Jane
(Sony Pictures Classics)

Bridgerton may be set in the Regency period, but it’s far from historically accurate, combining modern design elements into the costumes and even set design, the look is what a modern woman may dream Regency to be. Bearing that in mind, we move across to Austenland, where the world of Jane Austen is brought to life in an immersive getaway, though the experience is, once again, far from historically accurate.

Jane Hayes is in love with the works of Austen and decides to spend all her savings on a blowout trip to Austenland, a period romance lover’s dream come true. Her trip ends up not being quite what she expected. With her Pride and Prejudice fantasy turning into a daft rendition of a Mills & Boon novel, she still catches the eye of the rather curt, rude, but incredibly handsome Mr. Henry Nobley. It’s daft and corny but it’s a little bit of fun.

8. Clueless (1995)

Brittany Murphy, Alicia Silverstone, and Stacey Dash in 'Clueless'
(Paramount Pictures)

This is kind of a cheat because we already have Emma on the list, and this iconic ’90s film is simply a retelling of that same story. Nonetheless, it’s different enough for us to consider it here, given it’s a modern adaption (now retro … god, I feel old). The premise is pretty much the same as Emma, though we swap out our English Lady for a spoiled California high schooler named Cher.

If style and fashion are some of the reasons you love Bridgerton, then Clueless has plenty, albeit in a different period, with the styling of this film having become iconic. Modern adaptations such as this prove that stories such as those written by Austen transcend time, relatable to us now as they were 200 years ago.

9. Marie Antoinette (2006)

Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette
(Sony Pictures)

It’s pink, it’s pastel, it’s Sofia Coppola’s masterpiece: Marie Antoinette. Coppola looks at the story of Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria, turned Dauphine of France, turned Queen of France. The film takes a rather sympathetic view of the character, showcasing her naive nature, young age, and lack of real-world education as she tries to make a home for herself in the foreign palace of France amid political turmoil and war.

Though the film is set in the period of Antoinette, Coppola chose to add modern twists, and the film is extremely stylized, much like with Bridgerton, with a more contemporary soundtrack. Though the film received some mixed reviews, it has gone on to be considered a classic, paving the way for some of the more updated period adaptions we see today.

10. Belle (2013)

Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Elizabeth Belle in Belle (Fox Searchlight)
(Fox Searchlight)

This film is a loose adaption of the real historical figure of Dido Elizabeth Belle, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, a free Black British gentlewoman of mixed ethnicity who was raised by her father’s uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Mansfield. Though the characters may be based on real figures, the story is fictional but adds real elements of events that happened around the time, which include the events that led to the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

While Bridgerton creates a universe wherein people of color are an accepted part of society during the Regency period, even within the show, they discuss the fear of losing it all, of going back to a time before Queen Charlotte—a time that Dido Elizabeth Belle actually lived in.

So why not give these a watch to get you in the mood for some romance, drama, and stunning period pieces before Bridgerton season three lands on Netflix on May 16?

(featured image: Netflix)


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Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.