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Spice Up Your Valentine's Day with These Romantic Movies

By Elliott Ryan
Guest Writer

CBN.comAt 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 don’t really mean very much. Which is why I try to avoid making such lists each year.

But, as Valentine’s 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 doesn’t go over very well with her parents at first. As she faces the challenge of getting her family’s 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 family’s religious heritage.

Mansfield Park – Frances O’Connor stars as Fanny Price in this 1999 adaptation of Jane Austen’s 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 stranger’s family the truth or to continue to live the lie that has caused this stranger’s 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 Beast’s 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: Disney’s 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 father’s 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: You’ve 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 didn’t 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.

It’s 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 Valentine’s 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 isn’t too impressed with Maria’s 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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