Here is Entertainment Weekly’s list of the top 25 romantic movies for the last 25 years. I’ve copied word for word their blurb of the movie and why they think it’s romantic. I then added my own viewpoint. What do you think?
25. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991)
Perhaps Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s Oscar-winning lyrics say it best: ”Tale as old as time/Song as old as rhyme/Beauty and the Beast.” Walt Disney turned animated films on their ears with this vibrant and swoony retelling of the timeless fairy tale about a pretty girl who shuns outward appearances in favor of inner substance (found within her brutish captor). Still the first, and only, animated film to be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.
Maria says: Terrific soundtrack, beautiful animation, and a wonderful story. Yes, this one would make my list too.
24. THE PIANO (1993)
The closing five minutes — when Holly Hunter’s mute pianist takes two trips to the bottom of the ocean, one real and one imaginary — are enough on their own to earn Jane Campion’s bleak yet beautiful feminist parable a slot on our list.
Maria says: I think the word ‘bleak’ captures the spirit of this film.Ada (Holly Hunter) a mute is forced into an arranged marriage and must leave her native Scotland accompanied by her daughter and her beloved piano to live with her new husband in the forests of New Zealand’s South Island. Her new husband is not a kind man and sells her beloved piano to his neighbour George. Ada’s piano is her one means of communication and solace. George decides that she may earn back her piano by giving him piano lessons. Ada and George begin a torrid affair, to which her husband responds by cutting off her hand.
Personally, I didn’t feel she was redeemed at the end of the film. Yes, she held her ground, but the price was high. I’m not sure I would have done the same in the name of love. This film would never make it on my top 25.
23. THE WEDDING SINGER (1998)
The airhead-pop-filled ’80s provides the perfect backdrop for this bubbly, super-sweet romantic comedy about a once successful, now heartbroken singer, Robbie (Adam Sandler), and an engaged banquet-hall waitress, Julia (Drew Barrymore). After tragically misreading each other’s cues — he thinks she can be wooed by money, she’s angered by his presumption and thinks he’s interested in her friend — the two realize they’re in love. And the icing on the cake? New Wave pop icon Billy Idol chips in to help Robbie keep Julia from flying off with her cheating fiancé.
Maria says: I’m not big on misunderstandings in books or movies. Makes me want to fast forward to the end. This film is not on my top 25, not even in a rental
22. SID AND NANCY (1986)
Boasting live-wire performances by Gary Oldman as Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and Chloe Webb as his American wife Nancy Spungen, this unhinged love story captures the events of their sordid, drug-fueled romance.
Maria says: A film about a punk rocker and a groupie who get together for sex and a serious amount of drug taking. Does this sound like a romantic film to you? I’m just asking. Definitely not on my list. In fact, not on any list I would ever create.
21. THE ENGLISH PATIENT (1996)
Forget ”Nothing says ”I love you” like a Hallmark card.” Nothing says ‘I love you’ like carrying your wounded lover (Kristin Scott Thomas) through the mountains after her jealousy-enraged, suicidal husband crashes his plane, with her by his side, into the desert in an attempt to kill you (Ralph Fiennes) too. Then, after leaving her in a cave as you go for help, you return some time later for her remains in a mission that leaves you amnesiac, burned beyond all recognition, and carrying a torch the rest of your life. Throw in a devoted nurse (Juliette Binoche), a strapping Sikh combat engineer (Naveen Andrews), a revenge-seeking spy (Willem Dafoe), and the exotic locales of WWII Italy and North Africa, and you have one helluva epic romance (and an Oscar winner for Best Picture).
Maria says: I think they aptly described this movie, which is why I DO NOT find it romantic. For me, this film was one long moment of saying to myself, “Seriously?” I didn’t like this one – and it doesn’t go on my list. Okay – I’m shallow, I’ve earned the right to be.
20. IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (2001)
Living in adjoining apartments in 1960s Hong Kong, a newspaperman (Tony Leung) and a secretary (Maggie Cheung) discover that their respective spouses are having an affair. Their friendship grows, and deepens, but writer-director Wong Kar Wai keeps things languorous rather than torrid, making his camera as much a player in the unconsummated heat between these two lost souls as they are.
Maria says: I haven’t seen this one, and from the description I’m not likely to put it on my schedule.
19. Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN (2002)
Young men get horny and like to have sex. Co-writer-director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) doesn’t flinch from this simple fact in his lush travelogue through modern Mexico following two school chums (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) and the mysterious woman they befriend (Maribel Verdu). But the film is too mature for mere titillation; instead, it presents an uncommonly honest portrait of modern youth and, in Mercado’s cancer-riddled character, the bittersweet embrace of life just as it’s slipping away.
Maria says: “Young men get horny and like to have sex.” This is not a new concept.
18. MOONSTRUCK (1987)
Cher won an Oscar on the strength of her big-hearted performance as an Italian-American widow who falls for an opera-loving outcast (Nicolas Cage) in this hopelessly romantic dramedy from director Norman Jewison.
Maria says: Yes! Cher gave a surprising performance in this one. “Snap out of it!” On the other hand, how did Nicholas Cage become leading man material? He’s not sexy, he’s got a dour looking face, and he always seems to be depressed. However, I would most certainly put this on my top 25 – it’s very romantic.
17. SAY ANYTHING… (1989)
It’s an iconic image that defines an era and the film: John Cusack’s lovestruck aspiring kick-boxer, Lloyd Dobler, making a stand for love, with boombox overhead blaring Peter Gabriel’s ”In Your Eyes,” as he tries to win the heart of out-of-his-league valedictorian, Diane Court (Ione Skye).
Maria Says: John Cusack – not your typical leading man material, but he sells it, and that’s why I see his films. He’s got an honesty that leaps off the screen and makes you want to watch.
16. AMÉLIE (2001)
In this bright, whimsical French romance set amid the hustle and bustle of dreamy Paris, a shy and lonely young waitress (Audrey Tautou) with a fanciful imagination aspires for happiness by surreptitiously helping others. Her adventures lead her to pick up a photo album dropped by an intriguing young stranger (Mathieu Kassovitz) who may hold the true key to her lifelong quest.
Maria says: What was all the fuss about? This film was praised left and right, but it didn’t live up to the expectations. Personally, I felt Amelie was self absorbed. Nothing worse than a self absorbed female. Just doesn’t make my top 25 and I don’t think it is romantic.
15. OUT OF AFRICA (1985)
From shooting lions on safari to diving in a biplane over a flock of pink flamingos, Sydney Pollack’s romance about real-life Danish baroness Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), her life on her plantation in early 20th-century Kenya, and her love for adventurer Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford) is sweeping and epic.
Maria says: After seeing this film many times, I’ve come to the conclusion that Robert Redford was a cad. If he hadn’t gone flying off to see some other woman he would have still been alive and come back to Meryl. While this film would have been on my top 25, after careful consideration – it falls down to the top 50.
14. GHOST (1990)
The steamy romp between Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in a New York City loft changed how everyone looked at pottery, breathed new life into the Righteous Brothers’ ”Unchained Melody,” and launched a host of parodies. But, in this supernatural love story about a Swayze’s specter trying to reconnect with his lover (Moore) and help her solve his murder, it’s the tender last kiss the couple shares before Swayze walks off into the light that’s the most touching.
Maria says: “Oh my darling, I hunger, hunger for your touch.” That’s the song that’s playing when they get messy with the clay. Yes, this film is fun, and feel good and is one of those rentals you can see again and again. Top 25 for sure.
13. DIRTY DANCING (1987)
”No one puts Baby in a corner,” growls dancer Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) at the overprotective dad of his new starry-eyed protégée (Jennifer Grey). Same goes for this movie. And if you’ve got a problem with that, we’re available for a dance-off anytime.
Maria says: Seriously, is there a question about this one. The dancing alone puts it in the top 25. Enough said
12. LOST IN TRANSLATION (2003)
Sofia Coppola’s darkly comic romance about two lost souls (Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson) stuck in the limbo of a Tokyo hotel ends with one of the great enigmatic moments in cinema history: Murray leaning in to whisper some parting words of wisdom into Johansson’s ear.
Maria says: Why? I didn’t get this one. First of all, Bill Murray is old enough to be Scarlett’s father. Second of all, he’s depressed, directionless, dour. Romantic? By who’s definition?
11. EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990)
Tim Burton’s pastel-colored, break-your-heart career highpoint — and the beginning of many fans’ love affair with an elusive, eccentric young man named Johnny Depp.
Maria says: This one was haunting from start to finish. I’m not sure I would call it romantic, but it did capture my attention and imagination.
10. THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998)
You could make a pretty decent horror flick that featured dog poisoning, gruesomely injured genitals, a fitness video-obsessed serial killer, and a beautiful young woman being followed around by an assortment of lovestruck stalkers. The Farrelly brothers decided to make a hilarious bad-taste comedy instead.
Maria says: I know, I know – tons of people loved and laughed out loud at this film, I was not one of them. The photo says it all: man accidentally gets fish hook in his mouth while someone else is fishing – this is the kind of slap stick I don’t like and can’t watch – no matter how funny everyone else says it is. This film made me want to slap Cameron Diaz silly.
9. PRETTY WOMAN (1990)
It was a bit of a throwback — a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold fairy tale — even when it first came out. Yet it announced the arrival of a postfeminist princess culture, complete with Richard Gere playing an early incarnation of Mr. Big. More than anything, it was the moment we all fell in love with Julia Roberts.
Maria says: Having seen this film a couple of hundred times I’m of the conclusion that yes it’s romantic – after all boy rescues girl, and girl rescues him right back – BUT it’s slipped down on my list of ‘go to’ films. It is a throwback and I’ve become jaded, a prostitute isn’t going to make it with a billionaire – but maybe I’m naive, maybe in real life there are a few out there who have.
8. JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)
Tom Cruise’s richest go-for-broke performance. Cameron Crowe’s most quotable script. Unbeatable support from Cuba Gooding Jr., Renée Zellweger (in her breakout film), Bonnie Hunt, and — remember this little guy? — Jonathan Lipnicki. Jerry Maguire is what every big-studio, star-vehicle blockbuster should aspire to be.
Maria says: “You had me at hello.” I didn’t love this film on first viewing, but three times the charm, and I’m a big fan of Bonnie Hunt, who has some great lines in the film.
7. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY… (1989)
Though they owe a thing or two to Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are, by now, just as classic a pair.
Maria says: This is a classic romantic comedy that stands the test of time.
6. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
Should scientists ever actually invent a method to wipe away memories of unpleasant past relationships (like the intense romance Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey tried to forget in this trippy film), be sure to tell them not to touch the part of your brain that remembers watching screenwriter Charlie Kaufman’s most mind-blowing two hours.
Maria says: Didn’t see this one – I’m not a Jim Carrey fan, in fact, I wouldn’t see him if he was playing in my basement. Oh, that was harsh.
5. A ROOM WITH A VIEW (1986)
Dismiss the evenly composed, well-behaved, and gussied-up films of Merchant Ivory as ”boring” at your own peril. A Room With a View is a firecracker lit by its fuse, leading lady Helena Bonham Carter. Deeply romantic, it is the apotheosis of its genre: the exquisitely made chick flick.
Maria says: I really hate the phrase ‘chick flick’ – this was a very good film, whether you’re a man or a woman.
4. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005)
The cool move here would be to ignore the fact that Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal enacted a truly groundbreaking love story — and simply concentrate on what a gorgeous, nuanced, heartbreaking movie Brokeback is for people of any sexual orientation. But Ang Lee’s undeniably romantic movie did break ground. It reached, and moved, mainstream audiences in ways that no ”gay” movie ever had before.
Maria says: Yes it was ground breaking – but also heart breaking, and that is the reason it doesn’t make my top 25. Don’t like heartbreak.
3. ONCE (2006)
A labor of love for all involved (the director struggled for years to get the film made and the two leads ended up a real-life couple), this musical Irish indie tells the simple, sweet story of a budding relationship (and artistic partnership) between a street musician (Glen Hansard), made bitter by a failed romance, and a Czech immigrant (Markéta Irglová) with her own complicated affairs. Together they make beautiful music: the soundtrack was nominated for a Grammy, and the opening track, ”Falling Slowly,” won an Oscar.
Maria says: What this is doing in the top 25, let alone the top 3 is astounding. This film falls into the category of “Reality Films.” It’s very much like reality TV where you watch the ‘drama’ of people’s lives unfold on the screen. That’s pretty much what happens here, and there are some excruciatingly, painfully slow unfolding scenes. Even the music didn’t carry it for me. Not on my list.
2. MOULIN ROUGE (2001)
Audacious in its madcap use of music, daring in its unabashed embrace of romance, Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge (starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor) taps into all the passion of the old movie musicals while recharging them for this century.
Maria says: This was an original. For that reason alone, it gets on my list.
1. TITANIC (1997)
The one disaster movie that’s also a primal work of popular art. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet strike romantic sparks, but the beauty of James Cameron’s epic is that it knows all too well their breathless affair wouldn’t have lasted had it not been for that iceberg. In Titanic, it’s death that makes love eternal (and worthy of 100 hankies). The sinking of the ship, which plays out in what feels like real time, is one of the cinema’s great spectacles of beauty and dread.
Maria says: Number one? Not even maybe. This film was released in 1997 when films lasted in the movie theater for more than a week. In fact this one broke records. Marisa and I finally saw this in the theater six months after its initial release. We moaned throughout, we just couldn’t believe how long and sappy this one was. They actually sank the Titanic in ‘real time’ and we were forced to watch every agonizing second of Leo’s demise…it seemed to take hours. We were heartless and kept yelling at the screen, ‘Die already.” Shameful, I know.