It’s that time of year again, when old married couples wonder where the romance has gone, new couples wonder if it’s too early in the relationship to get each other the piña colada flavored chaps, and singles despairingly question their worth. In short, it’s Valentine’s Day, which according to Wikipedia
we can blame Chaucer and the Roman Catholic Church for.
But since we can’t banish the holiday all together, we may as well celebrate this February fertility rite the right way—with film. So whether you’re snuggling in the loveseat with your sweetie or flying solo, we’re sure one of these romantic movies will be just the one for you.
Okay, it’s a cliché, but clichés get that way for a reason. The fictional story of wealthy Rose (Kate Winslet
) and poor Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio
) falling in love against all odds on the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic is the perfect way into the real life tragedy of its sinking. Who cares if the movie did come out 10 years ago? Just accept the guilty pleasure and enjoy it.
I still have no idea what really happened in Darren Aronofsky
’s sci-fi-drama-romance about the reincarnated thousand-year romance of Isabel (Rachel Weisz
) and Tomas (Hugh Jackman
), but that doesn’t make it any less romantic. He loves her as Spanish conquistador, he loves her now, and he loves her in some crazy space travelling future bubble with a tree. I mean, he goes to the end of time and the universe for his love. How much more intensely romantic can you get?
Confederate soldier Inman (Jude Law
) defects from the military hospital, risking life and limb to make the unimaginably arduous journey home to his love, Ada (Nicole Kidman
). Sure, there’s a whole lot of war and poverty and hardship stuff mixed in, but when you see Kidman and Law together, it’s all worth it. And as anyone who saw Gone With the Wind
knows—Civil War love is totally hot.
What, you think they’ve all got to be corset-dramas to be romantic? Wrong. Well, at least not that type of corset. This one’s about Lee (Maggie Gyllenhaal
), a depressed young woman who takes a job as a secretary for sadistic lawyer E. Edward Grey (James Spader
), and discovers she can trade her self-harming ways for a little light S&M. It’s saucy, naughty good fun and I’m not ashamed to say it.
Romeo and Juliet
No, not the loud crazyLeonardo DiCaprio
MTV version, the real one—the one Franco Zeffirelli
directed way back in 1968. And hey, just because they showed it to you in high school doesn’t mean it’s not a really lovely interpretation of the ultimate star-crossed lovers story. Plus, don’t forget all the boobies and butts in this one for those of you who just want to get to the bottom line.
In case you haven’t gotten sick of hearing about Atonement
yet, let me refresh your memory: Cecilia (Keira Knightley
) is a wealthy, bored WWII-era Brit who succumbs to the secret love she has been harboring for friend/housekeeper’s son, Robbie (James McAvoy
), which is all well and good until her younger sister, Briony (Saoirse Ronan
), and her overactive imagination accuse him of a crime he didn’t commit. More star-crossed lovers! More period war romance! This one is actually still in the theaters now and (obviously) up for a few Oscars—for good reason. It’s going to become one of the all time romance classics. Plus, James McAvoy—sigh.
Lost in Translation
Wha-wha-whaa?? But they don’t even kiss! Yes, I know, but this story of aging actor Bob Harris (Bill Murray
) and young Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson
), who both find themselves somewhat asea in Tokyo will speak to your largest sexual organ—your brain. I don’t know how she did it, but writer/director Sofia Coppola
makes you absolutely believe the intense, somewhat sad connection between these unlikely two. It is without question one of my absolute, desert-island-pick favorite movies.
When I watched Brokeback Mountain
, I thought, ‘What’s all the fuss about? I mean, yeah, sure it’s pretty, but basically this is what good movies should be, not the second coming or anything.’ And then days had gone by and this tragic story was still in my head; it had just sunk its teeth into me. Years later it still hasn’t let go. That Heath Ledger
didn’t get the Oscar for his stunning, restrained performance as Ennis Del Mar, a cowboy who unwittingly finds himself in love with fellow cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal
) was a crime then, and is even more so now in light of his recent death. This movie is heavy, heartbreaking, and beautiful.
The English Patient
Come on, you had to know that was coming, didn’t you? What is there to say? Count Laszlo de Almaszy (Ralph Fiennes
) loves Katherine Clifton (Kristin Scott Thomas
) even though she is the wife of his friend and fellow Sahara desert-mapper Geoffrey (Colin Firth
) and she loves him back. Then he burns his face off in a plane crash and recounts his memories to a nurse (Juliette Binoche
) as he’s dying. The English Patient
is the ultimate in cinematic passion as far as I’m concerned, the pinnacle in movie romance. Watch it and love.