Actress Keira Knightley, after the success of her debut film Bend It Like Beckham, landed her role as Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise. But it wasn’t until her role as Elizabeth Bennet in the 2005 film Pride & Prejudice, and the subsequent Oscar nomination, that she solidified her place in the industry. The film, which was Joe Wright‘s directorial debut, earned Knightley 11 nominations for Best Actress in addition to the Oscar nomination. It also made Knightley a director’s favourite, as she went on to work with Wright on 2 more projects. Most importantly, however, Pride and Prejudice put Knightley on the map as the perfect contender for historical dramas, a genre she has truly made her own and become a master of. We’re taking a look at some of the period dramas she’s starred in and delivered praiseworthy performances.

1. Colette

One of her most recent projects, Keira Knightley’s work in Colette was widely praised for being aptly fit for the movie. The film is based on the life of French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who wrote the famous Claudine novels. The novels were originally published under Colette’s husband’s name. The film is carried by Knightley’s brilliant portrayal of the novelist, depicting her journey as she writes the novels for her husband, and as she eventually comes to understand him as a cheat.

2. Atonement

Based on a 2001 novel of the same name, Atonement is a war drama film, that traces the consequences of a crime through six decades. One of Knightley’s early works, she was cast in the film because director Joe Wright believed her to be the best contender. He said that although severely underrated, she was a really extraordinary actress. The film appeared on many critics’ top 10 list of best films of 2007.

3. Pride & Prejudice

Arguably the most popular out of her acting credits, Pride and Prejudice was one of the two films that have earned her Oscar nominations. Keira was fond of the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice since age 7. She said that acting the leading lady in the film was like watching a dream come alive, although scary at first. The film was praised for the way it combined a classic tale with modern, youthful filmmaking. Despite criticism from viewers who held high regard for the 1995 film version of the novel, Knightley earned high praise for her performance and defined the image of Elizabeth Bennet for a fresh generation.

5. Anna Karenina

Her third collaboration with director Joe Wright, Keira Knightley played the titular role in the 2012 film adaptation of Leo Tolstoy‘s classic Anna Karenina. Critics said that her work on the film proved that Knightley was strengthening as an actor with each project and that Joe Wright knew how to bring out the best in her.

6. The Imitation Game

Playing the supporting role of Joan Clarke, Knightley’s work in the 2014 film The Imitation Game earned her her second Oscar nomination. The film is a biopic on scientist Alan Turing, who developed the model which gave us general-purpose computers. Although criticized for its failure in depicting Turing’s homosexuality, instead alluding to a romantic relationship between the scientist and Joan Clarke, the film earned Knightley considerable praise for her sincere and strong portrayal of the cryptanalyst.

How many of these Keira Knightley films have you seen? Let us know in the comments!

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