The Best Romantic Films
My Favorite Romantic Movies
I love a good romantic movie, nothing too sappy, just relatable. The joy for me comes from being able to imagine myself as the female lead. The movies are enjoyable because when I become the female lead I am transformed; adored, desired, and placed upon that pedestal that all women secretly, or not so secretly want to be placed upon. The male lead is always masculine, always open with his feelings, and always ready to go the extra mile to make me feel special. Even those that run at first, realize the depth of their feelings eventually and vow to spend the rest of their lives making me happy. The ability of any film to transport us to a desirable place is what makes them so appealing. Here are a few of my favorite romantic films.
Nick Cassavetes directed this 2004 classic starring Gena Rowlands, Jim Garner, Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. The story, written by Nicholas Sparks, chronicles the epic romance of two young lovers who meet during summer vacation in the 1930s. The tale of their sweeping love affair spans decades and is read from a handwritten notebook by an elderly man in a retirement center, to his female companion. This movie instantly became my favorite and has remained so because the tale is so beautifully told. The characters are played to perfection and anyone who has ever been in love can relate to the depth and endurance of their passion.
When Harry Met Sally
This 1989 movie by director Rob Reiner, stars Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal as best friends who take nearly two decades to realize their love for one another. In the meantime, they struggle with the question, "can men and women ever truly be friends, or will the desire to have sex always always complicate things?" The actors are believable, the dialogue is smart, fresh and funny, and the story is one that probably everyone has personally lived through at some point in their lives. While the ending is somewhat predictable, it is a fun film none-the-less because if it had ended any other way, you'd walk away disappointed.
Sleepless in Seattle
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star in this sweet romantic comedy about a widower (Sam Baldwin) whose son is trying to help him find a new wife. Enter Meg Ryan, the consummate 90s romantic comedienne, with her trademark lopsided smile and girl-next-door charm, as journalist Annie Reed. Nora Ephron both wrote and directed this light-hearted film that was released in 1993. Tom Hanks portrays the pain of losing a beloved spouse to perfection and Meg Ryan plays a young women who is underwhelmed in her current relationship and who just might be the answer to Sam's loneliness and longing. Rosie O'Donnell is a riot as Annie's best friend and boss. She sends Annie on assignment to get the story on Sam whose son called a radio show hostess hoping to find a new wife for his lonely father. The story sweeps the nation and women from across the US are vying for Sam's affections, but Annie is determined to prevail, believing it is her destiny. As with any romantic movie, the ending is somewhat predictable, but it offers the perfect blend of laughter and tears.
My Fair Lady
This retelling of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, is a classic. Audrey Hepburn plays Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl that is taken in by the older, phoneticist, Henry Higgins, played by Rex Harrison. Together with his colleague, Colonel Pickering, Higgins takes up the challenge of transforming the "guttersnipe" into a lady that could pass herself off in the deepest circles of high society. The result is a comedic, melodious, romp filled with hilariously flawed characters. The romance here is almost a subplot, but that lends an air of innocence to the film. This is a musical with some of the most recognizable show tunes ever. The costumes are grandiose, the storyline is brilliant, and music is anything but contrived. This is one for the ages.
The Princess Bride
This is one of my favorite films of all time. Released in 1987 by director Rob Reiner, this film is a sweet fairytale, starring Cary Elwes and then-newcomer, Robin Wright (eventually Robin Wright Penn). In a nutshell, poor farm girl falls for poor farm boy. Farm boy goes off to seek their fortune and is captured by the dread pirate Roberts. Farm girls sinks into lonely depression until the Prince chooses her for his bride and sweeps her off to his kingdom.There are only two problems, she doesn't love the prince, and the prince wants to kill her on their wedding night in order to incite a war. But alas, her true love rescues her with the help of a cast of hilarious characters played by Wallace Shawn, Andre the Giant, Mandy Patinkin and Billy Crystal. The movie is full of sword fights, battles of wits, screaming eels and true love.
The story is told by a grandfather (Peter Falk) to his grandson (a young Fred Savage) who is home sick from school. At first, the grandson turns his nose up at the notion of a romantic fairytale, but as the action packed story continues he can't wait to hear the ultimate kissing scene at the end.
This movie has some of the best lines of all time...
"Hello...My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!"
"Stop rhyming now, I mean it!" ..."Anybody want a peanut?"
You've just got to see this movie. It is the ultimate date night movie; not too sappy. Just right.
Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts star in this 1999 movie about a London travel bookshop owner who falls for an American movie star after she happens upon his shop one afternoon. While completely implausible, the movie is charming and the lead characters are both sweetly vulnerable and desperately in need of love. While their romance isn't easy to come by, their persistence amid a series of misfortunes and bad timing will have you rooting for them all the way. The couple are joined by a cast of hilarious, quirky supporting cast members that you can't help but fall in love with. The closing song, She, by Elvis Costello, sets the perfect mood for the happily ever after.
This 1989 remake of the French film, Cousin, Cousine, stars Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini as friends who meet sporadically at weddings and other family events, and find that their friendship is blossoming into love. Underwhelmed with their current spouses, but trying to remain honorable, the two make a series of futile attempts to remain faithful, but end up failing miserably. Despite the adulterous nature of their relationship, their spouses are so unlikable that you find yourself rooting for these two. The music is beautiful, the romance is subtle and the story takes its time to develop. As always, comedic elements are provided by the supporting cast including Sean Young, Lloyd Bridges and William Peterson. This is a great film to watch with a bottle of wine on a quiet rainy evening with the one you love.
Only the Lonely
You might not think of John Candy and romance in the same stream of consciousness, but this movie is a great romantic comedy. John Candy reminds me so much of my dad, that I have fallen in love with all his movies. I can completely relate to his burly, vulnerable sense of self-deprecating humor. In this 1991 Chris Columbus film, Candy plays Danny Muldoon, a Chicago police officer who falls in love with funeral parlor make-up artist, Theresa Luna, played by Ally Sheedy. Their love isn't easy to come by, as Danny's overbearing Irish mother (Maureen O'Hara) keeps coming between them. Both Danny and Theresa are incredibly frail, vulnerable and desperately lonely. They are such incredible social misfits that finding love and their own voices in this overwhelming city isn't easy. But it is completely charming to watch them develop into strong, confident romantic partners. It may not sound like a comedy, but it will have you both laughing and crying, all the while rooting for a happy ending.
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Anthony Minghella directed this 1991 movie about a woman coping with incredible grief after the death of her long time love. But don't misunderstand, this is no weepy drama. This is a romantic comedy with a unique twist. Nina and Jamie, played brilliantly by Alan Rickman (before he famously became Professor Snape), may not have been fated to live happily ever after, but that didn't stop Jamie from coming back for his love in death. At first, she is ecstatic to have him back in her life. His ghost scares the rats from her lonely apartment and the two are able to talk, laugh and make love just as if he were still alive, though he is admittedly much colder. But over time, Jamie's presence becomes unsettling, he brings home his ghost friends and stays up til all hours. And eventually, he becomes competition for Nina's new love interest, a very real, living, man. This is a bittersweet film that will have you certain at first that if your true love precedes you in death, you would welcome a haunting. But by the end, you may reconsider.
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