Samantha Nyarko ’14
1) Gone with the Wind (1939)
This one is a classic. It won 10 Academy Awards and some (including me) argue that it’s the greatest American movie of all time. The lovers here are Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara, who are equally devious and resourceful. There’s lots of witty banter between these two-played by Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh respectively-and some iconic, smoldering kisses to boot. If you have four hours to watch a tumultuous, historical romance, check this one out.
2) Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
This charming romantic comedy stars Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. Hepburn as usual, is beautiful and refreshing, and Peppard is handsome and charming. The heroine, Holly Golightly, is fun and quirky but also emotionally complex. Holly and Paul (a.k.a. Fred-inside joke) have a sweet romance complete with goofing around wearing animal masks, going on a shopping trip to Tiffany and Co., and kissing in the rain.
3) Pocahontas (1995)
I know, I know. This is an animated movie. But if you give it a second viewing, you’ll find that it’s really romantic. This one has features some great songs and the voice of Mel Gibson as John Smith. John Smith and Pochahontas’s romance is epic and ultimately tragic, which of course makes for a great love story. Their love for each other creates peace between the American Indians and the settlers and helps the two cultures understand each other. I will admit, that the last scene makes me cry every time.
4) Atonement (2007)
This film stars Keira Knightley and James McAvoy and is a great example of the tragic romance. In addition to the fabulous storytelling, editing, and costume design, the love story at the heart of this movie is heartbreaking. The sexual tension is palpable between Knightley’s and McAvoy’s characters in the movie. Their undying love for each other is sweeping and the ending is yet another tearjerker.
5) Dirty Dancing (1987)
Dancing and romance?! What more could you ask for? Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey are fabulous as Johhny and Baby in this 1960s set dance flick. Dirty Dancing tells the story of the relationship that develops between Baby and Johnny as they dance together at a summer resort. There’s the forbidden romance factor because Baby is a guest at the resort while Johnny is the wrong-side-of-the-tracks dance instructor. But mostly this movie is fun and lighthearted with a great soundtrack, lovable characters, and amazing dancing.
6) Titanic (1997)
What could threaten a pair of star-crossed lovers more than one of most infamous disasters of all time: the sinking of the Titanic? Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have great chemistry and even greater odds to battle against in James Cameron’s epic. If you aren’t crying during the last scene, you’re pretty sure to be sent over the edge as Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” plays during the credits.
7) Camille (1936)
Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor are perfect in the starring roles of adaptation of Alexandre Dumas fils’s novel. Taylor is the winsome hero hopelessly in love with Garbo’s sensitive Marguerite, an ailing courtesan. It’s hard not to swoon when Taylor’s declaring things like, “I’ll love you all my life. I know that now. All my life.”
8) The Great Gatsby (2013)
Some might argue that Baz Luhrman’s masterpiece isn’t strictly speaking a romance. But Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular character is driven completely by his love of Daisy Buchanan (played by Carey Mulligan). The sepia toned flashbacks are pulsing with romance and Daisy and Gatsby reunited in 1922 is pretty romantic as well. Lana Del Rey crooning “Young and Beautiful” is the icing on the cake of this love story.
9) Bright Star (2009)
This one’s a lesser known independent film by the auteur Jane Campion. It tells the love story of John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish are perfect as the leads. The love story is achingly sweet and the beautiful poetry immortalizing their affair is recited throughout.
10) Dear John (2010)
Nicholas Sparks. Channing Tatum. Amanda Seyfried. Tearjerker. Enough said, right? Well, if you haven’t seen this one, it’s about a soldier on leave who falls in love with a girl. War breaks out, lovers are betrayed, and heartbreak ensues.
11) Tristan and Isolde (2006)
This is a great period piece romance, complete with medieval battles for people who like action to go along with passion. James Franco and Sophia Miles have a brooding love, but if you’re in the mood for a somber tale of star-crossed lovers, this one’s for you.
12) Brokeback Mountain (2005)
This is such a powerful story. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal play a pair of cowboys who are forbidden to love each other but do anyway. This movie is stark in its realism and undoubtedly moving. Watch it for some really great filmmaking and to watch the tragic affair unfold.
13) Anna Karenina (2012)
Keira Knightley was born to play Anna Karenina, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is perfectly foppish as Vronsky, and Jude Law brings sympathy to the sometimes inscrutable Karenin. Joe Wright can craft a great romance, as he directed this one as well as Atonement. This highly stylized version of Anna Karenina is a fresh spin on Anna and Vronsky’s ill-fated liaison.
14) Austenland (2013)
Let’s end on a happy note! This one’s a new one (still in theaters as I write this) and it’s comically irreverent and romantically warm. This is for anyone who’s ever longed to live in a Jane Austen novel. Keri Russell plays a Pride and Prejudice addict who goes to England to get the Austen experience at a theme park called Austenland. JJ Feild is perfect in his aloof, Darcy inspired role. This one will keep you laughing, and by the end you’ll be swooning.