Romantic movies will never go out of style as they give most of us some form of hope in today’s world. It’s that one day people either really really love or really really hate.
I can straddle both sides and have chosen some films that will either make you swoon or make you wonder what I was smoking with some of the choices. This is the perfect list for even the biggest hater of Valentine’s Day.
Our guy Shane McLendon also created a timeless article called The Clueless Man’s Guide To Valentine’s Day which everyone should check out.
So here’s my list to peruse and decide which ones I left out that are a Valentine’s Day must. It’s a little longer than just ten as I kept remembering a few more that just had to be included.
Casablanca, 1942 – This Best Picture Oscar winner about a love triangle starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, and Paul Henreid. Bogart as the American expat nightclub owner in Casablanca is faced with an impossible choice – choose between his love for a woman or help her husband, a Czech rebel and nationalist, escape from Casablanca, which was Vichy-controlled at the time, so he can continue his fight against the Nazis.
When Harry Met Sally, 1989 – Billy Crystal is Harry. Meg Ryan is Sally. This romantic comedy follows Harry and Sally from the moment they meet and share a cross-country drive for 12 years of chance encounters and attempts to answer the question of whether men and women can be just friends. It also introduced Harry Connick Jr. to the mainstream public with a soundtrack that still stands up today.
Harold and Maude, 1971 – This cult classic starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort shows that romance of a sort can bloom between the unlikeliest people who meet in the unlikeliest spot as they explore the meaning of life from a fresh angle. Harold and Maude is that film that would never get made today, but it is one of Hal Ashby’s greatest. Don’t know who Hal Ashby is, he’s worth exploring for any film geek.
An Affair to Remember, 1957 – The American Film Institute named this the most romantic movie of all time. Terry (Deborah Kerr) and Nickie (Cary Grant) meet on a cruise from Europe to New York. Both are engaged to other people, but as Fate would have it, they fall in love. When they part at the end of the cruise, they agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building if they still feel the same. Yes, an obvious choice but still a very good one for diehard romantics.
It Happened One Night, 1934 – Spoiled heiress Ellie (Claudette Colbert) falls in love with roguish newspaper reporter Peter (Clark Gable) when she tries to get out from under her father’s thumb by escaping from her father’s yacht where she was being held. This was the first film to win all five major Academy Awards.
Pretty Woman, 1990 – This Cinderella love story has wealthy businessman Edward Lewis (Richard Gere) hiring prostitute Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts) for a week to accompany him to several social functions. Al Pacino, Albert Brooks, and Sylvester Stallone all turned the role down – as did Sandra Bullock, Kristin Davis, and Sarah Jessica Parker. For those parents and people feeling that Pretty Woman glorified prostitution and led many young impressionable women into the profession, follow this up with a few episodes of Law and Order: SVU for a reality check.
L.A. Story, 1991 – Romance, satire, and fantasy – what more could you want? Harris K. Telemacher (Steve Martin) is a TV weatherman in Los Angeles who’s looking for some meaning and magic in his life. When he meets Sara (Victoria Tennant), a journalist from London, he gets a signal from a sign on the freeway that she’s the one (fantasy). Does it work out? Watch and find out and see Sarah Jessica Parker getting ready for Sex and the City fame.
Titanic, 1998 – If you’ve already seen this classic romantic-disaster film, watch it again. The story centers on Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) who steals Rose (Kate Winslett) from her rich fiancé. They come from opposite ends of the social scale, but they fall in love anyway. The film won 11 Oscars. Kate proved that she knew how to rid herself of dead weight when needed.
Dirty Dancing, 1987 – Baby (Jennifer Grey) is unhappy to be stuck at a low-key resort in the Catskills for her last summer before heading off in the Peace Corps – until dance instructor Johnny (Patrick Swayze) starts paying attention to her. Then it’s all about not putting that Baby in a corner which we here even today.
The Lobster, 2015 – This one is quite a different one more in the line of Harold and Maude as Colin Farrell stars in this tale of a dystopian society where single people must find a mate within 45 days or transform into an animal of their choice. It sounds weird, and it is delightfully weird but so worth the watch while still being romantic in an indie film sort of way.
House of Yes, 1997 – Yes, House of Yes is a rather twisted tale, but if you’ve not seen it, it’s an absolute must. Parker Posey showed how she was once the queen of indie fandom with good reason. When you have a cast including Geneviève Bujold, Josh Hamilton, Freddie Prinze, Jr, Tori Spelling and Posey, you know it’s going to be interesting, to say the least.
Warm Bodies, 2013 – This has got to be the sweetest zombie film you will ever watch and why it had to be included on a Valentine’s Day movie list. Nicholas Hoult (yes, that adorable kid from About A Boy) plays a zombie who has more of a penchant for love than eating humans.
9 1/2 Weeks, 1986 – In the 1980’s this was quite the shocking film, but after watching it again, I realize that it actually stands the test of time. Some women may disagree strongly with this choice, but for me, this is a story of how many lines we are willing to cross for love (even when we know it’s unhealthy) and when we realize that it’s time to step away. Kim Basinger was truly pushed to the edge in this film, and it still packs quite the punch.