Spice Up Your Valentine's
Day with These Romantic Movies
By Elliott Ryan
the beginning of each year, movie reviewers publish their lists of the
top ten movies of the year. These lists are very subjective. Different
reviewers use various criteria to determine which movies should top the
list. While the lists are interesting, they dont really mean very
much. Which is why I try to avoid making such lists each year.
But, as Valentines Day approaches, I began to compile a list of
the best romantic movies I have ever seen. I have not seen every movie
ever made. So, it is somewhat arbitrary. But I hope it gives you some
ideas as you consider ways to spend a romantic evening at home with the
one you love. Here are my top ten romantic movies in no particular order:
Shadowlands This 1994 movie is based on the true life story
of famous Christian author C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles
of Narnia and "Mere Christianity"). It tells of his romance
and eventual marriage to American Joy Gresham. Hopkins does an excellent
job of portraying how Lewis life and theology evolve as his friendship
with Joy turns to romance and then to tragedy.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding This 2002 independent movie became
immensely popular through word of mouth advertising by viewers. A young
Greek woman named Toula Portokalos (played by Nia Vardalos who also wrote
the movie) marries a non-Greek (played by John Corbett). This doesnt
go over very well with her parents at first. As she faces the challenge
of getting her familys approval for the relationship, she also struggles
with her own cultural heritage. This movie places emphasis on a large,
loving family environment and shows respect to the importance of the familys
Mansfield Park Frances OConnor stars as Fanny Price
in this 1999 adaptation of Jane Austens classic novel. After a childhood
of poverty, Fanny is sent to live with well-to-do relatives to be raised
in the upper crust of early 19th century England. An inconvenient yet
obvious romance develops between her and a good friend who is engaged
to another woman. As with other Austen stories, heavy emphasis is placed
on whether or not romantic love can overcome the English class distinctions
of those times. Other films inspired by Austen novels would be honorable
mentions on my list. These include Emma, Sense and Sensibilities,
and a television adaptation of Pride and Prejudice from BBC. All
of these are currently available on video and DVD.
While You Were Sleeping This 1995 romantic comedy stars
Sandra Bullock as a lonely train station ticket taker named Lucy whose
infatuation with a stranger gets complicated after she saves his life
and is mistaken for his girlfriend while he is in a coma. The classic
mistaken identity plot line drives this entertaining film as Lucy must
decide whether to tell the strangers family the truth or to continue
to live the lie that has caused this strangers family to embrace
her as one of their own. This movie ends up showing viewers the difference
between infatuation and love as Lucy has a big choice to make between
the two. It ends up showing Lucy that life would have been less complicated
had she told the truth in the beginning.
Beauty and the Beast The animated Disney version of this
classic fairy tale deserves a place of honor among other great screen
romances. Belle crosses paths with the Beast after her father is imprisoned
in the Beasts castle. Belle eventually finds out that there may
be more to the Beast than meets the eye. The music is excellent and adds
to the enchantment of this family film. Animated honorable mentions: Disneys
Aladdin and Shrek.
Sleepless in Seattle Tom Hanks stars as a depressed widower
mourning the loss of his wife. His young son calls into a radio show to
ask for help finding a woman to mend his fathers heart. Meg Ryan
stars as a woman who may be able to help. Ryan flies to Seattle to see
Hanks. Hanks son flies to New York to meet Ryan. The characters
gain inspiration from watching the classic movie An Affair to Remember,
a movie that may have made my list had I ever seen it. The screen chemistry
between these two talented actors and the sweet story distract viewers
from the truth that this would probably never happen in real life. Honorable
mention starring Hanks and Ryan: Youve Got Mail.
The Princess Bride This has been one of my favorite movies
for ages. It is a romance movie partly. It is also part comedy,
part action/adventure. This movie didnt do all that well in theaters
but has gained a huge following through showings on cable television and
video rentals. The king attempts to force a beautiful commoner into marrying
him after the real love of her life is presumed dead. This family film
stars Cary Elwes and Robin Wright Penn as the principle characters surrounded
by a well-known, talented cast.
Its A Wonderful Life This 1946 Frank Capra film stars
Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, a business man who wishes he had never
been born. An angel is sent to show him how his friends, family, and neighbors
would have turned out without his life to positively affect theirs. Through
flashbacks, we see the romance that developed through the years between
George and his wife. Watching this movie has become a Christmas tradition
for many families. But the romantic overtones make it a good choice for
Valentines Day too.
Ever After This re-telling of the Cinderella story stars
Drew Barrymore as Danielle, who is mistreated by her step-mother (played
by Anjelica Huston). Danielle basically becomes a servant to her step-mother
and step-sisters. The story is very familiar but some new twists keep
it from being just another fairy tale retread. What makes this version
interesting is the lack of magical elements present in the well-known
Cinderella story. For example, there is no fairy godmother. But what is
left is a more realistic yet charming tale of love overcoming obstacles.
Barrymore and Huston both turn in excellent performances. Honorable mention
featuring Drew Barrymore: Never Been Kissed.
The Sound of Music Julie Andrews stars in this 1965
musical about a failure of a nun named Maria who is sent to be the
governess for the children of a widower named Captain Von Trapp. Maria
showers the children with the love and attention they have been missing
since the death of their mother. At first the Captain isnt too
impressed with Marias work with his children. But as time goes
on, his heart softens towards her childcare techniques and towards
her in general. Unexpected romance blooms between them as the threat
of war looms in the background.
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