best films: #61: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995)
Nothing quite does it like a fancy, shiny, costumey period piece. If its source material is penned by Jane Austen, well, you’ve generally got yourself a fairly enjoyable theatrical experience. Sense and Sensibility is no exception and is probably the best and strongest Austen adaptation you can find. (In film, that is; for the absolute best, see 1996’s TV miniseries Pride and Prejudice, which is ineligible for this list, of course.) Buoyed by a fantastic adaptation written by the star herself, Emma Thompson, who is in fine form as usual (is there no end to this woman’s entertainment value?), the movie also boasts the arguable breakthrough from Kate Winslet (who managed her very first Oscar nomination playing Marianne Dashwood in a brilliant star-making turn). Chalk the rest of its appeal up to the curmudgeonly but easy-to-love Colonel Brandon, played by Alan Rickman in his first match-up with Thompson (the second being the complicated relationship they shared in Love Actually, which also provided us with an unsung performance by the great Emma Thompson). But the primary rule of thumb for these types of films is that no one gets anywhere without some genius costume design and some very pretty countrysides, so thank frequent Academy Award magnet team Jenny Beavan and John Bright for her skill with a thread and needle.