It’s Valentine Day, so our writers have taken it upon themselves to recommend their favourite romantic movies – take your pick!
Never Been Kissed (1999), dir. Raja Gosnell
The ’90s produced some amazing romantic comedies with one of the last being Never Been Kissed, a movie that is so perfect for snuggling down and watching no matter the time, day, or mood you are in. There is a nostalgic quality to this film that draws you in, mainly due to the fact that it is based in a high school – something that most of us can relate to, especially the teacher-crush aspect. With this, the inclusion of Shakespearean plots and the makeover trope, but the main character being an adult instead of a 16-year-old girl, Never Been Kissed is set apart from movies like Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, and She’s All That. Drew Barrymore’s performance is both hilarious and emotive throughout the film, drawing us into her world and leading to one of the best climaxes in rom-com history, with the kiss on the baseball pitch one we were sure wasn’t going to come.
Moulin Rouge! (2001), dir. Baz Luhrmann
The early 2000s film directed by musical maestro Baz Luhrmann, Moulin Rouge! covers the pursuit of love in a colourfully theatrical way. It’s the soundtrack that is one of the main stars of the show. From the cover of Queen’s ‘The Show Must Go On’ to the love song medley sung by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, every track is outstanding. But the showstopper is no doubt ‘Come What May’. Originally written for Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, it was thus ineligible for the Best Original Song Oscar, but McGregor’s vocals excel in this scene. Moulin Rouge! has everything, from the comic (everything about the ‘Like A Virgin’ number) to the dramatic to the heartbreaking. It’s still getting lots of love, with a medley of the film’s songs being the soundtrack to which Canadian ice-dancing pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won Olympic Gold at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), dir. Michel Gondry
Memories are an important part of romantic relationships and how they shape our lives, especially those shared with previous partners. But what if there was a process that could remove these heartbreaking moments from the mind entirely? That’s what screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and director Michel Gondry set out to explore in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, an imaginative film about break-ups that is smart, insightful, and genuinely beautiful. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet are Joel and Clementine, a former couple who both undergo a procedure that will erase their memories of one another. The actors give arguably career-best performances and radiate electric chemistry. Eternal Sunshine follows a devastating struggle with Joel fighting against his mind in order to remember Clementine, as well as observing the lives of the scientists undertaking the procedure, with plenty of surprising revelations. All of this might come across as ludicrous if not for Kaufman’s wonderfully clever script, one that keeps the story rooted in its essential theme of the power of memory, tugging at your heart-strings along the way.
She’s the Man (2006), dir. Andy Fickman
She’s the Man is an unforgettable rom-com for any nineties/noughties kid. This movie features childhood icon Amanda Bynes as Viola and a young Channing Tatum as Duke, the two falling in love over football, pageants and (technically) drag. After girls’ football is cut at her school, and soon-to-be ex-boyfriend Justin rejects her from the boys’ team, Viola has no choice but to take runaway-brother Sebastian’s place at Illyria Prep. From Viola impressing the lads by having her female friends swoon over ‘Sebastian’, to trading love-tips for football practice with Duke all whilst he falls for her ‘sister’, She’s the Man is one complicated but iconic rom-com. After all, who doesn’t love learning that you can use tampons for nosebleeds, and an ending where both brother and sister flash their stuff to reveal their true identity? All in the name of football.
The Proposal (2009), dir. Anne Fletcher
The Proposal takes on the classic rom-com storyline featuring two characters who hate each other but eventually fall in love after realising they are a perfect couple. The Anne Fletcher comedy stars Sandra Bullock as Margaret, an executive editor-in-chief of a New York book publisher, and Ryan Reynolds as her assistant Andrew. After learning she is about to be deported, Margaret persuades a reluctant Andrew to marry her – with the promise to make him editor after their marriage and publish a book he keeps recommending to her. The couple travel to Alaska to visit Andrew’s family and, as they spend more time together, Margaret begins to open up to Andrew. The ‘evil’ boss shows a kind and loving side that Andrew begins to fall for. The Proposal makes for the perfect romantic comedy to watch on Valentine’s Day, with or without a significant other to cuddle up to.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012), dir. David O. Russell
Silver Linings Playbook doesn’t get anywhere near the love it deserves, in my opinion. A romantic comedy-drama with a poignant storyline that feels REAL and GENUINE, with well-developed characters and great lead actors who have obvious chemistry – what more could you want, honestly? Bradley Cooper’s Pat is oddly inspiring with his determination to find the ‘silver lining’ amongst all the bad in his life, while Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany provides a stellar performance that won her the Oscar. The great thing about this film is that there isn’t a huge, magic romantic moment: the final move at the dance competition goes wrong, there’s no big white wedding, even Tiffany and Pat’s running meeting is revealed to have been set up. Tiffany and Pat aren’t ‘cured’ of their respective mental illnesses by the end. Instead, they just find a quiet happiness in one another. Silver Linings Playbook is simple, it’s pure, and it’s definitely worth a watch.
Call Me by Your Name (2017), dir. Luca Guadagnino
Although Call Me by Your Name started out as an relatively low-key indie movie that happened to star Armie Hammer, it quickly became one of the biggest releases of 2017. Based on André Aciman’s 2007 book of the same name, Luca Guadagnino’s adaptation made this essential story into the beautiful film that it deserved. Following the intense summer romance between Elio and Oliver in 1980s Italy, Call Me by Your Name combines gorgeous summer aesthetics, a Sufjan Stevens-led soundtrack and a devastatingly unforgettable tale of love. The powerful chemistry between Hammer as Oliver and Timothée Chalamet’s Elio is rare to find on the screen. Both actors were praised profusely by critics for their stunning performances. Call Me by Your Name went on to win several awards, having a separate Wiki page for all its accolades. Don’t be put off by what you hear about the controversial peach scene, Guadagnino’s film is one of the greatest cinematic love stories of our time.