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50 Entertaining Period Pieces on Netflix to Watch – Movie Edition (2021)

These are currently the best period drama films to watch on Netflix!

Initially, when we wrote this article back in 2015, we focused solely on romantic period drama films. Today, we decided to update this post with a complete list – including more than romance! As period drama has become a massively popular genre on Netflix, we felt it was time to finally update this article for all the period drama fans looking for something new (or old) to watch. Now, this list is for movies only and are the period pieces on Netflix you can finish in just one sitting.

Collage of Period Pieces on Netflix - the originals.
Period Pieces on Netflix. Photos: Netflix

For a list of period drama TV shows and miniseries, head on over to our companion article: 55 Sensational Period Dramas to Watch on Netflix – Miniseries and TV Shows (2021)

Currently, the number of period films available on Netflix is particularly long. So, we narrowed the choices by mainly including period pieces with at least a little romance thrown into the mix (because let’s face it: who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned love story?), period drama movies with a Romanticism influence, or ones we just think you’ll love!  

There are, of course, several other fantastic period drama films not included and are also worth checking out (many in the bonus list at the end). 

For this list, we also primarily strove for titles that aren’t excessively graphic. We made a few exceptions – usually because they’re incredibly romantic. But if there is an R-rated film (or TV-MA), we will give a content warning for fans who don’t want to see more explicit content. 

We mostly tended to include the milder Rated R films and added the more explicit ones in a bonus list at the end. Also included in the bonus list are period movies we haven’t seen and ones that didn’t make the list but may still be worth watching.

We hope you find this list useful and have new period pieces to add to your Netflix queue. And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a show to binge instead, check out our list of period drama miniseries and TV shows on Netflix.

Without further ado, here are the top period pieces on Netflix – movie edition.

NOTE: Netflix availability is for the U.S. and at the time of publication and can change at any time. This article was first published in 2015 and has been updated for September 2021.


(In Alphabetical Order)

#1 The African Doctor (2016) 

The African Doctor Poster

Netflix Synopsis: A brilliant doctor from the Congo takes a job in a rural French village, where he and his family work to win over the less-than-welcoming locals.

Why You Should Check This Out: This period piece set in 1970s France is for period drama fans looking for something inspiring to watch! It’s also more of a comedy than you might expect. If you’re a fan of Doc Martin and want something uplifting in your queue, you should like this one. 

We recommend it if you enjoy biographical films since The African Doctor is based on a true story.

Content Note: TV-14 for language and nudity.

#2 Agatha Christie’s Crooked House (2017) 

Crooked House
Photo Credit: Stage 6 Films/Vertical Entertainment

Netflix Synopsis: When a detective investigates the death of his ex-lover’s grandfather, he uncovers secrets about the tycoon’s manipulative family.

Why You Should Check This Out: Crooked House is a stylish adaptation from Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes. With him on board, the period mystery has historical authenticity and intelligent dialogue. 

Then there’s the fabulous cast, including Gillian Anderson, Glenn Close, Max Irons, Christina Hendricks, Julian Sands, Terence Stamp, Amanda Abbington, and more. 

It’s an enjoyable watch worth checking out with mystery, romance, some noir elements, and a great cast.

Content Note: PG-13 for mild sexual content and off-screen violence.

#3 The Artist (2011)

the artist movie poster

Netflix Synopsis: Winner of five Oscars, this black-and-white silent film follows the romance between a silent-era legend on a downward spiral and a rising starlet.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re a film history buff or love beautiful romance films, The Artist is not to be missed. It brings Old Hollywood to life in a breathtaking way.

Content Note: PG-13 for a disturbing image and a crude gesture

#4 The Beguiled (2017)

The Beguiled publicity still with Nicole Kidman and other castmembers
Photo: Focus Features

Netflix Synopsis: During the Civil War, a wounded Union soldier takes refuge at a Southern girls school, rupturing the calm amid growing sexual tension and infighting.

Why You Should Check This Out: The Beguiled is a rather beguiling period movie with thoughtful direction from Sofia Coppola and an all-star cast: Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell. 

This one is on the darker side, so keep that in mind. It’s based on a book by Thomas Cullinan. 

Content Note: Rated R for sexuality – overall mild.

#5 Big Stone Gap (2014)

Big Stone Gap Publicity Still with Ashley Judd and Jenna Elfman
Photo: Picturehouse

Netflix Synopsis: A single middle-aged woman who has lived her whole life in a small Virginia mining town uncovers a family secret that alters her profoundly. 

Why You Should Check This Out: Big Stone Gap is a drama/romantic comedy set in the 1970s in Virginia. While there’s nothing that inventive about the film, it’s a cute, light-hearted watch with a good cast, including Ashley Judd, Patrick Wilson, Jenna Elfman, Whoopi Goldberg, Jane Krakowski, Jasmine Guy, and more.

Content Note: PG-13 for mild innuendo.

#6 Bright Star (2009)

Bright Star promotional photo. The two actors are holding hands while sitting on a couch.
Photo: BBC Films/Warner Bros.

Netflix Synopsis: This drama details the passionate three-year romance between Romantic poet John Keats – who died tragically at age 25 – and his great love and muse.

Why You Should Check This Out: Bright Star is a beautiful movie and love story from the Oscar-winning writer/director Jane Campion. It’s one of the best period dramas on the list and should not be missed. 

It was nominated for Best Costume Design at the Academy Awards, but it is more than that. Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish give brilliant performances in what is truly a magnificent movie.

Content Note: PG

#7 The Butler (2013)

The Butler Promo photo with Oprah and Forest Whitaker.
Photo: The Weinstein Company

Netflix Synopsis: The life of a White House butler who worked for eight presidents unfolds against a backdrop of unparalleled change in American history. 

Why You Should Check This Out: Fans of inspirational historical drama films (think Forrest Gump) will love Lee Daniels’ The Butler. With a great cast and an emotional story, it’s worth watching. 

Plus, Forrest Whitaker gives a fantastic performance.

Content Note: PG-13

#8 The Butterfly’s Dream (2013)

The Butterfly's Dream movie poster

Netflix Synopsis: Forced to work in a coal mine during World War II, two young poets find some escape when they both fall for the same woman.

Why You Should Check This Out: It’s a graceful film with a touching love story and a beautiful music score. Watch this if you appreciate artistic romance films. 

The Butterfly’s Dream is a romantic drama film from Turkey and is a standout about two forgotten poets.

Content Note: TV-PG

#9 Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Catch Me If You Can promo photo with Leonardo Dicaprio dressed as a pilot and female flight attendants standing around him.
Photo: Amblin Entertainment/DreamWorks Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: An FBI agent makes it his mission to put cunning con man Frank Abagnale Jr. behind bars. But Frank not only eludes capture, he revels in the pursuit.

Why You Should Check This Out: Steven Spielberg directs this Oscar-nominated crime dramedy starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks. It is truly captivating with a top-notch cast, brilliant script, and skillful direction. The movie takes place in the 1960s and is a fun watch.

Content Note: PG-13

#10 Crimson Peak (2015)

Crimson Peak promotional poster
Photo: Universal Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: After marrying a mysterious British aristocrat, a young heiress moves into his crumbling, creepy ancestral home and finds it conceals sinister secrets.

Why You Should Check This Out: Crimson Peak is more explicit than most period dramas on the list, but it is a fantastic gothic romance film Jane Eyre fans will love. Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam, and Jessica Chastain star.

Content Note: Rated R for graphic violence, sexuality, and brief strong language.

#11 Cold Mountain (2003)

Cold Mountain Promotional Art with Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger.
Photo: Miramax films

Netflix Synopsis: This drama follows a wounded Civil War soldier making the long journey home while his faraway love fights for survival on her deceased father’s farm.

Why You Should Check This Out: Cold Mountain is an epic romance movie adapted from the bestselling book. The love story between Ada and Inman captivates, while the chemistry between Nicole Kidman and Jude Law is electric. 

Renée Zellweger is also a standout, winning the Oscar for this movie for her performance as Ruby Thewes, a young mountain farmer with a whole lot of gumption.  

Like Crimson Peak, this film is a little bit more on the explicit side, so keep that in mind. 

Content Note: Rated R for violence and sexuality.

#12 Dances with Wolves (1990)

Dances with Wolves promo image with Kevin Costner and a wolf-like dog.
Photo: Orion Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: On the frontier, a Civil War soldier bonds with a Sioux tribe and adapts to their way of life, becoming their ally amid growing threats.

Why You Should Check This Out: Kevin Costner stars in this period epic that won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, and deservedly so. It’s an incredible and emotional movie everyone should see at least once. Dances With Wolves has a sweet love story too.

Content Note: PG-13

#13 The Dig (2021)

The Dig publicity photo with Carey Mulligan
Photo: Netflix/Clerkenwell Films/Magnolia Mae Films

Netflix Synopsis: On the eve of World War II, a British widow hires a self-taught archaeologist to dig up mysterious formations on her land, leading to a staggering find.

Why You Should Check This Out: With fine actors and a touching, emotional story based on real-life, The Dig is a period piece all period drama fans should watch: Carrie Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, and Lily James star. 

Content Note: PG-13

#14 Effie Gray (2014)

Emma Thompson and Dakota Fanning in Effie Gray publicity photo. Paintings are behind them.
Photo: Adopt Films/Universal Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: Trapped in a loveless marriage, the young wife of Victorian-era art critic, John Ruskin finds herself falling for an artist – and looking for a way out.

Why You Should Check This Out: Effie Gray is a splendid romantic period drama written by the consistently brilliant Emma Thompson. Sense and Sensibility (1995) fans won’t want to miss it. Nor will lovers of art history: Dakota Fanning, Greg Wise, Tom Sturridge, and Emma Thompson star.

Content Note: PG-13

#15 Enola Holmes (2020)

Enola Holmes promo photo
Legendary Pictures/PCMA Productions/Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: While searching for her missing mother, intrepid teen Enola Holmes uses her sleuthing skills to outsmart big brother Sherlock and help a runaway lord.

Why You Should Check This Out: Millie Bobbie Brown steals the show in this adorable teen mystery movie. Enola Holmes has enough romance, adventure, and good old-fashioned sleuthing to entertain teens and adults. 

Content Note: PG-13

#16 Fatima (2020)

Fatima publicity photo
Photo: Picturehouse

Netflix Synopsis: In 1917 Portugal, visions of the Virgin Mary come to three children whose message of faith raises doubts in their family and angers authorities.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you like faith-based films but also appreciate high-quality filmmaking, then you’ll probably like Fatima; the director was previously the cinematographer on shows like Game of Thrones and Rome.

Content Note: PG-13

#17 Get on Up (2014)

Get On Up Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis: Music legend James Brown makes a turbulent journey from humble origins to superstardom as the Godfather of Soul in this biopic starring Chadwick Boseman.

Why You Should Check This Out: Chadwick Boseman does a tremendous job as James Brown, bringing the charismatic performer to life. Plus, the period detail is right on the mark.

Content Note: PG-13

#18 The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Juliet and Dawsey
Photo: StudioCanal/Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: A London writer bonds with the colorful residents of Guernsey as she learns about the book club they formed during the WWII German occupation.

Why You Should Check This Out: Guernsey is based on the bestselling epistolary historical fiction novel, and it is enchanting. Period romance fans will love this marvelous adaptation with the perfect casting choices. It’s a comforting, wholesome watch and will keep you engaged from start to finish.

Content Note: TV-PG

#19 Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail Caesar movie poster
Photo: Universal Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: When a major star is kidnapped from a movie set, a hard-charging but overwhelmed studio boss sets out to find the actor and save the film.

Why You Should Check This Out: Hail, Caesar is one of those movies you either love or hate. But if you’re a fan of Old Hollywood and appreciate the A-list cast, this period satire from the Coen Brothers is worth giving a shot.

Content Note: PG-13

#20 Howards End (1992)

Howards End publicity photo with Helena Bonham Carter
Photo: Merchant Ivory/Sony Pictures Classics

Netflix Synopsis: When a husband, acting in his family’s “best interest,” does not accept his wife’s deathbed wish, providence dictates that he pay for his duplicity. 

Why You Should Check This Out: This Merchant-Ivory production is absolute perfection and a 20th-century masterpiece of filmmaking. From the first-rate cast to the gorgeous cinematography and costumes, Howards End exemplifies how romantic period dramas should be executed. 

Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, and Anthony Hopkins star.

Content Note: PG

#21 Hugo (2011)

Hugo poster
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: Living inside a Paris train station, an orphan eludes the rigid stationmaster, meets a legendary filmmaker, and finds the key to unlocking his destiny.

Why You Should Check This Out: Hugo is a love letter to the magic of cinema and is a charming period movie for the entire family! Martin Scorsese directs this Oscar-winning film, and it is a joy to watch.

Content Note: PG

#22 Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

Jodhaa Akbar Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis: In 16th-century India, what begins as a strategic alliance between a Mughal emperor and a Hindu princess becomes a genuine opportunity for true love.

Why You Should Check This Out: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan from Bride and Prejudice stars in this epic love story. It’s a grand, ambitious Bollywood film and very romantic!

Content Note: TV-14

#23 Kartini: Princess of Java (2017)

Kartini Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis: A woman of nobility battles patriarchal norms in order to improve educational access for women in early 1900s Indonesian society.

Why You Should Check This Out: This uplifting biographical drama tells the true story of Kartini, a famous Indonesian heroine. It’s a lovely film for the entire family and great if you’re looking for a female-driven movie.

Content Note: TV-PG

#24 Lady J (2018)

Lady J Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis: When her romance with a lustful marquis takes an unwelcome turn, a wealthy widow concocts a scheme to get revenge – with help from a younger woman.

 Why You Should Check This Out: Fans of French cinema will love this witty adaptation of a Diderot novel. 

Content Note: TV-MA for nudity. Mild overall.

#25 Lagaan (2001)

Lagaan Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis: In 1890s India, an arrogant British commander challenges the harshly taxed residents of Champaner to a high-stakes cricket match.

Why You Should Check This Out: This lavish musical was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars, and it is spectacular. Lagaan is romantic, entertaining, and full of heart.

Content Note: PG

#26 The Last Letter From Your Lover (2021)

The Last Letter From Your Lover Promo art
Photo: Netflix/StudioCanal

Netflix Synopsis: After finding a trove of love letters from 1965, a reporter sets out to solve the mystery of a secret affair – while embarking on a romance of her own.

Why You Should Check This Out: Like Possession, The Last Letter From Your Lover is a double story set into two time periods – the present day and the 1960s. It’s an emotional love story akin to An Affair to Remember with a strong cast. It’s also based on the bestselling novel by Jojo Moyes. I recommend the movie because of the fantastic ending.

Content Note: TV-MA for sensuality (one mild love scene) and brief strong language.

#27 Les Misérables (2012)

Les Miserables Movie Poster
Photo: Universal Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: The musical version of Victor Hugo’s epic tale of love and sacrifice, first produced for the stage in 1985, now receives the big-screen treatment.

Why You Should Check This Out: The epic period musical won three Oscars, including Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway. It’s mostly faithful to the Broadway play, and while a tragic story has light moments of romance and comedy.

Besides the odd casting choice of Russell Crowe (who can’t sing), the entire ensemble cast (particularly Jackman and Hathaway) excel in what is a brilliant piece of musical filmmaking.

Content Note: PG-13

#28 The Lion Woman (2016)

The Lion Woman Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis: A girl born with a condition that causes abnormal hair growth across her body tries to cope with the challenges of being different.

Why You Should Check This Out: This Norwegian period drama is an inspirational film about a young woman who faces abuse for being different but learns to love herself anyway. It’s based on a book and is a lovely movie adaptation.

Content Note: TV-14 for nudity

#29 A Little Chaos (2014)

A Little Chaos Movie Poster
Photo: BBC Films/Lionsgate

Netflix Synopsis: A willful young woman is hired to design a garden at Versailles for Louis XIV. Soon, she’s ensnared in political and romantic complications.

Why You Should Check This Out: Alan Rickman directs A Little Chaos, a photographically beautiful romance film. Plus, Sense and Sensibility fans will want to see Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet reunite on the screen.  Matthias Schoenaerts and Stanley Tucci also star.

Content Note: Rated R for a moderate amount of sexuality and brief nudity.

#30 The Lovely Bones (2009)

The Lovely Bones promo photo with Saoirse Ronan
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: In the aftermath of her murder, 14-year-old Susie watches from beyond as her loved ones mourn and search for her killer who is hiding in plain sight.

Why You Should Check This Out: The team behind Lord of the Rings adapts this historical fantasy (it’s set in the 1970s) about the tragic murder of a young woman. 

It’s a gorgeous film with a first-rate cast, including Saoirse Ronan, Rachel Weisz, Mark Wahlberg, Susan Sarandon, Stanley Tucci, and more. Tucci was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his brilliant performance.

Content Note: PG-13

#31 Loving (2016)

Loving Publicity Photo
Photo: Focus Features

Netflix Synopsis: A young couple’s interracial marriage in 1958 sparks a case that leads to the Supreme Court. Based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving.

Why You Should Check This Out: Loving is a gorgeous biographical romantic drama with a poetic script and perfect performances from Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton. It’s one of our favorite films of all time, and we can’t recommend it enough.

Content Note: PG-13

#32 Marshall (2017)

marshall publicity photo
Photo: Open Road Films

Netflix Synopsis: This biopic of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black U.S. Supreme Court justice, centers on his pivotal work in a sensational case as an NAACP lawyer.

Why You Should Check This Out: Chadwick Boseman stars in this old-fashioned courtroom drama based on a true story. It has a great cast and an involving screenplay sure to keep you watching.

Content Note: PG-13

#33 Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)

Memoirs of a geisha publicity still
Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Netflix Synopsis: Sold to a geisha house as a child, a fisherman’s daughter becomes the most sought-after geisha in Kyoto, but rivalries threaten the destiny she desires.

Why You Should Check This Out: Besides the sumptuous visuals (including the stunning costumes), what makes Memoirs of a Geisha so memorable is the beautiful love story. The movie won three Oscars for Cinematography, Art Direction, and Costume Design.

Content Note: PG-13

#34 My Fair Lady (1964)

My Fair Lady promo image
Photo: Warner Bros.

Netflix Synopsis: When a Cockney flower girl takes elocution lessons from an aloof professor, he decides to introduce her to high society, transforming both their lives.

Why You Should Check This Out: Based on PygmalionMy Fair Lady is the classic romantic musical set in Edwardian London starring Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. 

From the iconic performances to the music and costumes, My Fair Lady is a period musical everyone should see. It also won eight Oscars, including Best Picture.

Content Note: G

#35 My Girl/My Girl 2 (1991, 1993)

My Girl Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis for My Girl: This coming-of-age charmer follows a summer in the life of an 11-year-old girl who learns about love and loss as she grapples with profound changes.

Why You Should Check This Out: My Girl is the perfect historical drama for pre-teens and teens. My Girl is a coming-of-age story full of heartbreak, laughter, and tears. Just come prepared to sob. 

The sequel, while not as good, continues to show why Vada captured everyone’s heart. 

Content Note: PG-13

#36 Ophelia (2018)

Photo: IFC films

Netflix Synopsis: In this retelling of “Hamlet” from Ophelia’s point of view, the lady-in-waiting’s shared love with Denmark’s prince is ruined by treachery and madness.

Why You Should Check This Out: If you love Romeo and Juliet, Ever After, YA adaptations, and female empowerment films, you’ll probably love this mostly brilliant re-imagining of Shakespeare’s story. 

Ophelia‘s visual atmosphere is influenced by Romanticism and Pre-Raphaelite art, making the film visually breathtaking. 

Daisy Ridley, Naomi Watts, Nathaniel Parker, Clive Owen, George Mackay, and Tom Felton star. 

Content Note: PG-13

#37 The Ottoman Lieutenant (2017)

Photo Credit: Paladin

Netflix Synopsis: As World War I looms, an American nurse travels to the Ottoman Empire on a medical mission, where she clashes with a dashing lieutenant. 

Why You Should Check This Out: Watch The Ottoman Lieutenant for the love story! While an imperfect film, Michiel Huisman excels as the leading man in this Turkish-American romantic war drama movie. 

Content Note: Rated R for war violence and sensuality (mild). 

#38 The Professor and the Madman (2019)

Jennifer Ehle in The Professor and the Madman
Jennifer Ehle in The Professor and the Madman. Photo: Vertical Entertainment

Netflix Synopsis: While working on the first Oxford English Dictionary, a scholar receives thousands of entries from a doctor with a lengthy vocabulary and dark secrets.

Why You Should Check This Out: This is a compelling historical drama – mainly because of the intriguing actors. Besides Mel Gibson and Sean Penn, the supporting actors include Natalie Dormer, Jennifer Ehle, Steve Coogan, Ioan Gruffudd, Stephen Dillane, Jeremy Irvine, and more. 

Content Note: TV-14

#39 Quigley Down Under (1990)

Quigley Down Under promo photo
Photo: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Netflix Synopsis: After traveling to Australia for a job, a sharpshooting cowboy becomes a target himself when he refuses an immoral assignment from a corrupt landowner.

Why You Should Check This Out: If light-hearted romantic westerns are your cup of tea, then you’ll like this one starring Tom Selleck! Alan Rickman even gets to play the villain.

Content Note: PG-13

#40 Radium Girls (2018)

Radium Girls poster

Netflix Synopsis: When the women at a radium factory begin to fall gravely and inexplicably ill, Bessie and her co-workers set out to expose a corporate cover-up.

Why You Should Check This Out: While highly fictionalized, Radium Girls is an excellent introduction to the famous tragedy from the 1920s. There’s some romance in it, but it’s better when it’s showing the bond between sisters.

Content Note: TV-14

#41 The Railway Man (2013)

The Railway Man Publicity Still With Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman.
Photo: Lionsgate/Paramount Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: Decades after World War II, a still-shattered soldier unexpectedly falls in love and sees a bizarre coincidence bring his past back into focus.

Why You Should Check This Out: The performances in The Railway Man are exceptional. While it’s hard to get through prisoner of war scenes, the themes of redemption and forgiveness make this a profoundly moving movie to watch. Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine, Stellan Skarsgård, and more, star.

Content Note: Rated R for disturbing prisoner of war violence.

#42 Rebecca (2020)

Rebecca with Lily James; publicity photo
Photo: Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: A young newlywed moves to her husband’s imposing estate, where she must contend with his sinister housekeeper and the haunting shadow of his late wife.

Why You Should Check This Out: Rebecca is a breathtakingly beautiful looking film, even if it’s not the most remarkable adaptation of the famous gothic novel by Daphne Du Maurier. Lily James is also a period drama favorite.

Content Note: PG-13

#43 Shadow (2018)

Shadow Movie publicity image
Photo: Well Go USA Entertainment

Netflix Synopsis: As three kingdoms struggle for control of a walled city, a figure with a rare power spins a web of intrigue that entangles a king’s court.

Why You Should Check This Out: The gorgeous visuals that look like a painting come to life! The cinematography in Shadow is spectacular – as is the set design. 

Since the film comes from the award-winning director Yimou Zhang of Raise the Red Lantern, Hero, and House of Flying Daggers, it’s no surprise.

Content Note: TV-14

#44 Silver Skates (2020)

Silver Skates publicity image
Photo: Central Partnership Netflix

Netflix Synopsis: On the frozen rivers and canals of St. Petersburg, a petty thief on skates warms the heart of an aristocrat’s daughter as forces try to keep them apart. 

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re looking for a formulaic but entertaining star-crossed historical romance, this Netflix original from Russia is perfect! We also recommend this one if you love fairy tales. 

Content Note: TV-MA for nudity and love scene. Mild overall. 

#45 A Single Man (2009) 

A Single Man Poster with Colin Firth and Julianne Moore
Photo: The Weinstein Company

Netflix Synopsis: This stream-of-consciousness drama centers on a day in the life of a gay college professor who’s reeling from his longtime lover’s recent death.

Why You Should Check This Out: Colin Firth gives an award-worthy performance that secured him a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, and Nicholas Hoult also star in this artistically beautiful film.

Content Note: Rated R – for nudity/sexuality, disturbing images but overall, it is mild.

#46 Stardust (2007)

Stardust movie poster
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Netflix Synopsis: To win his true love’s heart, wide-eyed Tristan Thorn journeys to a forbidden realm to retrieve a fallen star that has taken human form. 

Why You Should Check This Out: Technically, Stardust is more fantasy than period drama – but it is set in Victorian times, and romantic costume drama fans should all love this one!

In a small country village, Tristan decides to cross the wall into a magical land to retrieve a fallen star and win over his most undeserving “beloved.” Once found, he realizes the star is actually a woman who begins to fall for Tristan

A witch attempts to get the star, too, while brothers fight over the crown. This one is just pure entertainment.

Content Note: PG-13

#47 Suffragette (2015)

Suffragette Movie Poster

Netflix Synopsis: At the beginning of the 20th century, circumstances drive a young, idealistic suffragette to find radical approaches to fighting male oppression. 

Why You Should Check This Out: If you’re looking for an inspirational historical drama to watch, you can’t go wrong with Suffragette. The all-star cast and powerful script make it worth seeing.

Content Note: PG-13

#48 The Theory of Everything (2014)

The Theory of Everything
Photo: Focus Features

Netflix Synopsis: As his esteem grows in the world of physics, Stephen Hawking’s body is ravaged by ALS, forcing his increasing dependence on his devoted wife, Jane.

Why You Should Check This Out: Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in this biographical romance drama. But it’s not just Redmayne who gives a brilliant performance. Felicity Jones is terrific as Jane Hawking too. 

Content Note: PG-13

#49 Velvet Colección: Grand Finale (2020)

Velvet Colección poster

Netflix Synopsis: During Christmas 1969, the impending sale of Velvet reunites past and present staff in Madrid for fond remembrances, second chances and new beginnings.

Why You Should Check This Out: First watch Velvet (a romantic period drama TV series), then Velvet Colección (a spinoff series) before you watch this final wrap-up movie. If you love shows like The Paradise and Mr. Selfridge, you’ll love this Spanish series.

Content Note: TV-14

#50 The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017)

The Zookeeper's Wife
Photo: Focus Features

Netflix Synopsis: When the Nazis invade Poland, Warsaw Zoo caretakers work with the underground resistance to save Jews from the horrors of the Third Reich. 

Why You Should Check This Out: Jessica Chastain stars in The Zookeeper’s Wife, a compelling war drama based on the popular book by Diane Ackerman. It’s an emotional movie that is hard to watch due to the difficult content matter, but it’s ultimately uplifting.

Content Note: PG-13


This bonus list includes period pieces we haven’t seen, ones that didn’t make the top 50 above, and the more explicit period films (minus the few exceptions above).

  • 1922 (TV-MA)
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Rated R)
  • The Danish Girl (Rated R)
  • Defiance (Rated R)
  • Destiny (TV-14)
  • Django Unchained (Rated R)
  • The Emigrant (TV-14)
  • Errementari (TV-MA)
  • A Fortunate Man (TV-MA)
  • The Giant (TV-14)
  • The Girl King (TV-MA)
  • GOYO: The Boy General (TV-MA)
  • Hawaizaada (2015) (TV-14
  • The Highwaymen (Rated R)
  • Ip Man (Rated R)
  • Kardec (TV-14)
  • The King (Rated R)
  • The Last Paradiso (TV-MA)
  • MANK (Rated R)
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Rated R)
  • Mary Magdalene (Rated R)
  • Milada (TV-14)
  • Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle (PG-13)
  • Mudbound (Rated R)
  • Mucize (TV-14)
  • Operation Finale (PG-13)
  • Outlaw King (Rated R)
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (Rated R)
  • Panipat (TV-14)
  • Paan Singh Tomar (TV-14)
  • The Piano (Rated R)
  • Red Joan (TV-MA)
  • The Red Sea Diving Resort (TV-MA)
  • The Resistance Banker (TV-MA)
  • Rose Island (TV-14)
  • Rush (Rated R)
  • Sarajevo (2014) (TV-PG)
  • Septembers of Shiraz (PG-13)
  • Shutter Island (Rated R)
  • The Stolen (TV-14) 
  • There Will Be Blood (Rated R)
  • This Earth of Mankind (TV-14)
  • The Trial of the Chicago Seven (Rated R)
  • W.E. (Rated R)
  • Winchester (PG-13)
  • The Young Messiah (PG-13)


50 Entertaining Period Pieces on Netflix to Watch – Movie Edition (2021); pinterest image


By on September 8th, 2021

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5 thoughts on “50 Entertaining Period Pieces on Netflix to Watch – Movie Edition (2021)”

  1. Thanks for all your recommendations. I love period dramas but feel extremely uncomfortable when they include (quite often, unnecessary) sex and nudity.

    Really appreciate your recommendations.



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