Best Period Dramas Added to Netflix in 2018

Kasey Moore What's on Netflix Avatar

Picking out the best period dramas on Netflix and that’s why we’ve enlisted the help of the head of Willow and Thatch, a dedicated period drama fansite to pick out the best five. 

Asking a period drama obsessed individual to pick the 5 best period dramas added to Netflix in 2018 is sort of unfair. There are so many kinds of period dramas that the process feels like comparing apples to oranges, so consider this list 5 of our favorite period dramas added this year. “Lincoln” and “The Duchess” and others could have made the cut on a different day.

FYI: Willow and Thatch defines “period” as set up until the close of the 1960s, so the 1970s era “Roma” isn’t here; you’ll want to watch this magnificent film depicting a year in the life of a domestic worker anyway. The stylistic “Apostle,” starring Dan Stevens isn’t here either, because horror isn’t my thing. If it’s yours and you liked “The Wicker Man,” step back into 1905 and enjoy the quiet ride until it isn’t.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)

Period of History: Post-WW2
Cast: Lily James, Michael Huisman, Glen Powell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Matthew Goode

Runtime: 123 Minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

“Guernsey” offers up a winning combination of drama and romance in a historical setting, namely the occupation of the British island Guernsey by the Nazis. And, it gets extra points for being a solid adaptation from the book by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and for being a movie about a writer and readers, and books. Add in the acting chops of Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay, and Tom Courtenay, and you have an easy to watch movie that’s old-fashioned and undemanding, in a good way.

Cinema Paradiso (1988)

Period of History: Post WW2 – 1980’s
Cast: Salvatore Cascio, Jacques Perrin, Philippe Noiret, Marco Leonardi, Agnese Nano

Runtime: 124 Minutes
IMDb Rating: 8.5/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 90%

There’s a lot to love here. This Best Foreign Language Film Oscar Winner is set largely inside a small town movie theater, where all the scenes of passionate embraces and kisses have been censored by the local priest. Fans who appreciate watching movies on the big screen will feel right at home, but it’s the coming-of-age tale of a boy seeking refuge from the reality of his daily life in a war-torn Sicilian village that will resonate with anyone who needs a break from the stresses of the everyday. His falling in love – with a girl, and with the silver screen – will steal your heart.

The English Patient

Period of History: WW2
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Kristin Scott Thomas, Juliette Binoche, Wilem Defoe, Colin Firth

Runtime: 162 Minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 84%

This epic romance set at the close of the Second World War took home an abundance of Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director (Anthony Minghella), Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche), Best Cinematography, and Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score. As the morphine drips into the veins of a badly burned, dying man (Ralph Fiennes), he slowly recalls who he is (a count attached to the Royal Geographic Society), and who he loved (Katharine, a newly married Englishwoman). But these are just the first pieces in this beautiful, tragic puzzle based on the novel by Michael Ondaatje, where disconnected lives intertwine. Period drama fans who only know Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, get ready for his role as Geoffrey, the betrayed husband. Bonus watch and equally meriting a spot on this list: “The King’s Speech,” starring Firth as George VI.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Period of History: Wild West
Cast: Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tom Waits, Liam Neeson

Runtime: 133 Minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.4/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 92%

Let’s start by saying this isn’t a period-set film that will have broad appeal to mainstream period drama fans, and if you want to mince words, it’s not technically a period drama because it’s a farcical dramatic comedy set in the past. It still needs to be here. Courtesy of the Coen brothers, the directors are back with their 18th film, an anthology of six short stories about a cast of characters living at the turn of the century on the American frontier. If you enjoyed the brothers’ “True Grit” or “Raising Arizona” you’ll want to get tipsy on six shots of expertly served dark fables, served with a side of violence and romance.” If that all sounds like too much, take heart: the Western spoof “Blazing Saddles” was added to Netflix this year too.

Angela’s Christmas

Period of History: 1910s Ireland
Cast: Lucy O’Connell, Malachy McCourt, Ruth Negga, Brian Gleeson, 

Runtime: 30 Minutes
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10 | Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

Can an animated family film be a period drama? Sure: it’s dramatic and period-set. Even if it doesn’t fall perfectly into the genre it easily deserves to be on this list. It’s not often that an animated Christmas movie is just as entertaining to adults as to children, but “Angela’s Christmas” hits all the right notes for anyone wanting a little extra warmth around the holidays. The short film, based on a children’s book by Frank McCourt, best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir “Angela’s Ashes,” is set in Limerick, Ireland, in 1914. The TV-G short (just 30 minutes) is a tender tale of a little girl who rescues the baby Jesus from the cold nativity creche at church on Christmas Eve, and what happens after. It’s at turns funny, sweet, and tense, and makes for a perfect escape during the bustle of the holiday season.

Written by

Founder of What's on Netflix, Kasey has been tracking the comings and goings of the Netflix library for over a decade. Covering everything from new movies, series and games from around the world, Kasey is in charge of covering breaking news, covering all the new additions now available on Netflix and what's coming next.