Five years ago this month I posted a thoroughly researched ranking of the kisses in Austen adaptations. But I’ve seen several more since then, so it’s time for an update! In this time of social distancing, smooch vicariously by browsing my Austen Kisses playlist. You’re welcome.
A few notes on the rankings:
- They do not necessarily reflect my opinion on the adaptation itself. They are based on subjective “feels” elicited by JUST the kiss (although there are exceptions).
- As far as the kiss goes, I’m looking for hotness, sweetness, and emotional payoff. Again, all subjective.
- I’ve included straight Austen adaptations, modern interpretations, and even Austen-related homages here.
Let’s get on to the smooches, shall we?
Unranked: These don’t have any kisses: Bride and Prejudice, Love and Friendship, P&P 1980
28. Emma 1996 (ITV)
Not a great screen kiss. It doesn’t help that Knightley brings up holding her when she was three weeks old right before he leans in. (video link)
27. Pride and Prejudice 1940
It’s not really fair to judge a screen kiss from 1940 against more modern kisses. They had the Hays Code back then, so we’re basically left with two people pressing their faces together. No one can object to Laurence Olivier though. (video link)
26. Unleashing Mr. Darcy
About what you would expect from a Hallmark movie, I guess. (bad-quality video link)
25. Death Comes to Pemberley
There were good things about this fan fiction brought to the small screen, but the chemistry between Mr. and Mrs. Darcy wasn’t really one of them. (I couldn’t find video, but here is a gifset.)
24. Pride & Prejudice: Atlanta
A cute and sometimes clever modern take. But it’s only a Lifetime movie… (video link)
23. Mansfield Park 2007
A strange and perplexing adaptation. The kiss is OK. (video link)
22. From Prada to Nada
This cute update set in modern-day Los Angeles gives us two heroines, Nora and Mary Dominguez. I find the Mary kiss hotter, despite the wheelchair and neck brace. Go Fez! (videos – Mary and Bruno, Nora and Edward)
21. Sense and Sensibility 1995 cut scene
This kiss scene didn’t actually make it into the movie, but S&S 1995 is one of my favorite Austen adaptations. So I’m including it anyway! Here we have one of Hugh Grant’s trademark awkward yet endearing pauses just before he makes his move. (video link)
20. Emma Approved
This web series had its moments, and the kiss was definitely a highlight. (video link)
19. Persuasion 1995
So there’s a random circus in the background, but YES to Ciaran Hinds in a naval uniform. Yes. (video link)
18. Mansfield Park 1999
Sure, liberties were taken with Fanny’s character. But Jonny Lee Miller has awesome pointy sideburns! (video link)
17. Sense and Sensibility 2008
After Elinor’s rare but justified emotional breakdown, she gets her happy ending, and her smooch. (Sorry, I couldn’t find video.)
16. Pride and Prejudice 1995
Considering that Darcy’s gazes throughout were much hotter, I find this a disappointing final kiss. We know Mr. Firth can do better (see below) (video link).
15. Before the Fall
This gay take on Pride and Prejudice is full of yearning. And so is the kiss. (video link, or watch the whole movie on Amazon Prime)
14. Pride and Prejudice 2005 “American ending”
The good: Matthew MacFadyen’s voice; the pause before their lips meet.
The bad: the lighting; the dialogue – plenty of Austen-written dialogue was cut to keep length down, but this inferior stuff is given almost 2 minutes? Priorities, Joe Wright. (video link)
The ditz with the credit card gets a kiss from a stammering, ever-youthful Paul Rudd. (video link)
12. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
I love this movie if only for capturing the true spirit of the first proposal at Hunsford. But before the kiss we’ve got Persuasion lines thrown in. It’s just.not.right. (video link)
11. Emma. 2020
I absolutely love this version! Johnny Flynn stole my heart. But (Spoiler!) the Knightley confession of love is separated from the kiss. As a result, the emotional pay-off is a bit lacking, although the kiss does have some sneaky hotness. (video link)
10. Emma 2009
The kiss is a lovely mutual exploration, as you might expect from two old friends. (video link)
9. Lost in Austen
Don’t be distracted by Amanda’s hair. There are more interesting things going on: like his hands, and his shoulders. I’m also a fan of the orbiting camera that takes in all of Pemberley’s grounds. (video link)
8. Northanger Abbey 2007
So cute! Catherine is adorably eager and innocent, but I can imagine her letting Henry drag her into all sorts of dark corners in the future. (video link)
7. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries
Daniel Vincent Gordh should always be in profile, if you ask me. (video link)
6. Persuasion 2007
The uncomfortably close shot of breathless, tearful Anne stretching, stretching up to kiss Captain Wentworth doesn’t rank this high. But the spinning kiss-that-morphs-into-waltz deserves #6. (video link)
5. Becoming Jane
This mostly conjecture “biopic” gives young Jane Austen a spiky romance that ends in disappointment. But I greatly enjoy the dance scene and the kiss scene. (video link)
4. Emma 1996
Canon lines like “I cannot make speeches,” and “If I loved you less…” were cut in the Knightley love confession. Despite these egregious omissions, the kiss is lovely. The giant tree is pretty awesome too. (video link)
Austen fantasies come to life? Tally Ho! (video link)
I almost put this as number 1. As a screen kiss it checks all my boxes: the sweeping music, the orbiting camera, the…uh… good lip action, not to mention the super-hot Theo James. But (Spoiler!) I’m still salty that a kiss like that doesn’t lead to an HEA. You done us wrong Andrew Davies. (video link)
1. Bridget Jones’s Diary
Still reigning supreme after 5 years! Proper Mr. Darcy drops an f-bomb. Less surprising is Bridget chasing him through snowy city streets in her underwear. Who can blame her, really? Good luck, crazy girl! (video link)
OK, hit me with your arguments on why my order is way off.