Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and with such weak offerings hitting theaters it seems like it might be smarter to stay at home and pick from some better pickings. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite movies about love, whether it be comedic, heart wrenching or simply a little odd.
Only You (1994)
This globe-trotting, false identity romantic comedy doesn’t hold back on the charm. Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. star as Faith and Peter, two people destined to be together. Both stars bring an old school Hollywood charisma to their roles, making them instantly electric. It’s light, full of laughter and obsessed with telling a true blue story about romance.
Saving Face (2004)
Faced with her mother’s language and cultural barriers, Wilhelmina must keep her dalliances in her romantic life a secret, unable to disclose to her that she’s gay. Until one day she meet’s Vivian and instantly falls for her. From then on she’s forced to grapple with the idea of telling her mother the truth. The story is tender, it hosts a romantic pair with chemistry in spades and director Alice Wu allows for a perspective not often seen on big screens-and we’re all the better for having seen it.
A man goes on a quest and falls madly in love with a falling star. On the way he runs into witches yearning to be young and Shakespearean pirate played earnestly by Robert De Niro. I’m sorry, is that not enough to make you want to race and watch it? Its shot like a fairytale should be, vibrant and luscious and starring beautiful people such as Claire Danes and Charlie Cox. It’s joyous and fun and allows the relationship to be just as interesting as the adventure.
13 Going on 30 (2004)
Have you seen a cuter film? Jennifer Garner stars as a girl who wakes up one day 30 years old after falling asleep at 13. It easily could have fallen into a mess of hokey plot developments and had been an embarrassment, however, with Garner playing each and every note of her character with a sweet sincerity and Mark Ruffalo matching her, it survives and becomes a must watch. Cavity inducing sweet this film is the pinnacle of a “feel good” film.
The Princess Bride (1987)
“As you wish”, three of the most romantic words in cinematic language. It’s the story of lovers Westley and Buttercup, how they were torn apart and then reunited. They’re forced to fight for one another, through a petulant King, a man with six fingers on one hand, a deadly forest and a medieval torture device. It’s crazy stuff, it’s fantastical, it’s a ridiculous amount of fun and it gave audiences a couple to root for. Also, don’t lie, we all had a massive crush on Cary Elwes as Westley.
Bright Star (2009)
This film hurts. It’s a love story of the most vicious kind, told in the most delicately poetic manner. It centers on poet John Keats (played by the always beautiful Ben Whishaw) and his romance with Fanny Browne (played by a never better Abbie Cornish). Their love is quiet, a chemistry that seeps into their being with words, light touches and fleeting looks. Shot by the brilliant Jane Campion watching this film is watching a work of art.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
It’s a classic. It has the unlikely pairing of Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal which beyond all reason just woks. It’s funny, it’s touching and so likeable. It became an instant favorite when I watched it for the first time and made me wish I had only seen it sooner. It’s an organic look, it a rom-com styling, of how friendship can grow into something more over time and how sometimes best friends are often soul mates in the grand scheme of things.
Lost in Translation (2003)
Not many would think of this Sofia Coppola film when listing off their favorite movies about love due to the lack of sexual undertones. Starring Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson (both of whom are stellar) you wouldn’t immediately think of them as a pairing that works yet their chemistry is undeniable. It isn’t the most overt, it doesn’t dominate the storyline but it’s present. It’s their instant connection amidst a mass of people who they’re unable to communicate with. It’s their want to simply be and be near each other. It’s those words they speak at the end that we’ll never be privy to know. They make a lasting impression.
Singin’ In the Rain (1952)
It’s easy to get lost in the story of the switch from silent films to talkies, in the dancing and the spectacle, so much so that you forget the innocence of the love story between the crazy charming Gene Kelly’s Don Lockwood and Debbie Reynolds Kathy. Sure, the best scenes are typically with the two of them and Donald O’Connor’ Cosmo, such as the rousing song and dance number “Good Morning, Good Morning” but the film gets its heartbeat from the romance.
Ever After (1998)
A recreation of a Cinderella tale this film is exuberant, female positive and allows for realism to seep into a fairytale offering. I remember seeing it in theaters and to this day remember the moment where Drew Barrymore, to save Dougray Scott’s character, heaves him over her shoulder and walks away-it’s a moment that sticks like much of the film. It’s a film that’s comfortable, a movie that you want to watch whenever it comes on television. Barrymore has never been better and it’s easily one of the best contemporary live action retelling of any fairytale in cinematic history.