Sade Green with the top ten best romances and rom-coms to watch this Valentine’s Day…
Feeling all loved up this Valentine’s Day? Looking for the perfect romance to finish your day with a loved one? Well look no further because the writers at Flickering Myth have been voting on our absolute favourite romance and romantic-comedy films to help you plan your Valentine’s evening.
10. Titanic (1997)
Director: James Cameron
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
Genre: Romantic Epic
What’s it about? A little known movie about the ill-fated first, and only, voyage of the giant ship Titanic, encapsulating the romance between a third class passenger and a first class passenger during it’s journey to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Why watch? The romance between Titanic’s Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) is a tragic yet wonderful love story. The two passengers never should have met but when Jack thwarts Rose’s attempt at suicide and saves her life, they promptly fall in love. After leading a somewhat sheltered life and being semi-forced to marry Cal (Billy Zane), Rose is shown the time of her life by Jack, and they have a raucous few days. The Titanic tragically hits an iceberg (but you knew that right?) and the entire second half of the film is dedicated to Jack and Rose’s attempts to leave the ship together in order to start a new life together in America. If the love story between Jack and Rose doesn’t entice you, then the depiction of Titanic’s 1912 voyage is a must-see – Cameron shot real footage of the sunken ship and built a version of the ship to film on, utilising the set fantastically during the tense action scenes. We shan’t spoil the ending for you just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last twenty years, but suffice to say it’s been the subject of a lot of debate over the years!
9. Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes, John Leguizamo, Harold Perrineau
What’s it about? Are you serious? You don’t know what this about?! Shame on you! William Shakespeare’s tragic story about the star-crossed lovers is brought to life in the most spectacular way possible.
Why watch? Set in a modern day Verona but spoken in Shakespeare’s English, Romeo + Juliet includes a cracking soundtrack, stunning direction and the most colourful set of costumes you will ever set your eyes on. Featuring early performances from DiCaprio as Romeo and Danes as Juliet, their superb performances will tear your soppy hearts apart as the doomed lovers take their own lives in order to spite their feuding families (don’t accuse us of spoilers, the story is over 400 years old). What’s super special about this version of Romeo + Juliet is that the story has been modernised without changing a thing from the original text. The difficult language is handled skilfully by the entire cast; whilst being dazzled by the stunning set pieces you’ll feel great empathy for the loved up teenagers. With outstanding supporting performances from the whole cast, with special mention to Harold Perrineau’s Mercutio, you will definitely be wishing a plague on both their houses by the end of the film.
8. Pretty Woman (1990)
Director: Garry Marshall
Starring: Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, Jason Alexander, Hector Elizondo
Genre: Romantic Comedy
What’s it about? A powerful business man hires a stunning local prostitute to accompany him to his busy schedule of social engagements.
Why watch? Pretty Woman is the ultimate romantic fairy tale. Vivian (Julia Roberts), a woman struggling to make ends meet, turns to prostitution under the direction of her drug addicted friend and happens to get picked up by Edward (Richard Gere) after he stops to ask for directions to his hotel. After Vivian quite literally charms the pants off him, Edward decides to hire her services for a few days so that she can accompany him to various events. Some of the most famous scenes in rom-com history follow; the necklace box scene, the shopping scene, the piano scene – need I go on?! The chemistry between Gere and Roberts is electric and it’s hard to not root for them – two broken humans who find and save each other. There really is nothing not to love about this film. If you aren’t fussed about the love story then watch Pretty Woman for the final scene. If you don’t feel all warm and fuzzy, then you must have a heart of stone!
7. True Romance (1993)
Director: Tony Scott
Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt
Genre: Black Romantic Comedy
What’s it about? A newly married loved up couple inadvertently steal drugs from the Mob and are chased across the USA in an attempt to reclaim them.
Why watch? This is not your average romance! Violence, torture, death, Elvis hallucinations – this film is mile a minute viewing and is certainly not for the faint of heart but you’ll love if you fancy a bit of action this Valentine’s Day. Written by Quentin Tarantino, although not directed by him, this film is a must-see for his fans. Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) and Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette) meet at a cinema and fall in love, only for Clarence to find out that Alabama is in fact a prostitute. After rescuing her from the brothel she works at and killing her boss, Clarence and Alabama make a run for it, not realising that they’ve picked up a bag of drugs that belongs to the Mob. Along the way, the couple meet various people (there is an EXTRAORDINARY supporting cast) who try to help them get rid of the drugs and away from the mobsters. If you’re not fussed about the romance, then True Romance is a must see for the action alone.
6. Blue Valentine (2010)
Director: Derek Cianfrance
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams
Genre: Romantic drama
What’s it about? Set over several different time periods, Blue Valentine depicts the relationship of a couple, from their initial meeting to the end of their marriage.
Why watch? Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) come from very different worlds. A high school dropout and an aspiring Doctor, Blue Valentine shows the rise of their love for one another coupled with the many pitfalls and differences that they have, against the backdrop of an unwanted pregnancy, alcoholism and failed dreams. Blue Valentine is a somewhat maudlin romantic drama but it’s almost guaranteed to make you think of at least one couple you know, who stay together despite having some level of hatred for one another. If you’re not bothered about the romance, watch it for Williams’ and Gosling’s performances – both nominated for Golden Globes and Williams for an Oscar, their depictions of Dean and Cindy are truly awe-inspiring.
5. 500 Days of Summer (2009)
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloë Grace Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler
Genre: Romatic Comedy Drama
What’s it about? Filmed from the male perspective, 500 Days of Summer is about the unrequited love that a man has for his co-worker.
Why watch? Hilarious and painful in equal measure springs to mind when watching this film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a greetings card writer but a trained architect, who falls in love with Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a recently hired assistant at his work. Although Summer frequently makes her feeling towards Tom crystal clear, and views their relationship as a more of a fun fling than anything serious, Tom falls head over heels in love with her and constantly pushes to see where the relationship is going. What makes 500 Days so special is the way that Tom’s feelings are conveyed. It is so relatable when he’s dancing down the street to work after their first night together, or when he turns up to work in absolutely foul mood because things aren’t going right. If the romance isn’t your thing, watch with your partner because you will have a debate about the film afterwards – who was in the wrong? Was it Summer or Tom? What do you think?
4. When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Director: Rob Reiner
Starring: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher, Bruno Kirby
Genre: Romantic Comedy
What’s it about? Set over the course of over a decade, When Harry Met Sally chronicles the random meetings of Harry and Sally (really?!), as they live their separate lives.
Why watch? It’s basically the original Ross and Rachel love story. 90 minutes of will they or won’t they; do they hate each other or do they love each other; will they go their separate ways or will they get together? Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) meet when they share a drive home to New York after graduating from the University of Chicago. They find they massively disagree with one another about how a relationship works and go their separate ways, only to randomly meet several times over the next decade and eventually fall in love. Of course, When Harry Met Sally also features one of the most famous café scenes of all time – so famous you can now visit the very spot that it was filmed. If you’re not fussed about the romance, then watch for the quick and witty dialogue, expertly delivered by not only Crystal and Ryan, but the superb supporting cast including the late Carrie Fisher.
3. The Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise 1995; Before Sunset 2004; Before Midnight 2013)
Director: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Genre: Romantic Drama
What’s it about? Three films, filmed nine years apart, mapping the relationship between a man and a woman from their first meeting, to the potential demise of their marriage
Why watch? Richard Linklater directs this trilogy, each film 9 years apart, charting the meetings and eventual marriage between Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy). Sure, a lot of romances show a relationship over a certain period of time, depicting the natural ups and downs, but none actually film each period almost a decade apart – this seems to be a Linklater specialty. The films are famous for not really having much happen apart from a lot of talking about life, love, hopes and dreams, and although set nine years apart, are set in near enough real time. If you’re not fussed about the romance, watch because of the undeniable chemistry between Hawke and Delpy and the excellent dialogue.
2. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Director: Michel Gondry
Starring: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, Kirsten Dunst
Genre: Romantic Sci-Fi
What’s it about? This cult classic follows a couple, who after a tough break up, have had the memory of one another erased, but then start to date each other again.
Why watch? It’s not often you get a romantic sci-fi film, so for that reason alone, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is worth a watch. It tells the story of Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet), who after dating for two years, have the memory of one another erased. The flashbacks of their loving relationship and painful break up will seem all too familiar to anyone who has had a relationship end unwillingly. A lovely, if ambiguous ending makes up for all the pain you’ll go through reminiscing about your own relationship failings. If you’re not fussed by their story, then watch it for the interspersed stories of the staff who work at Lacuna, the company who deal with memory erasure. They are a dramatic bunch!
1. La La Land (2016)
Director: Damien Chazelle
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
Genre: Romantic Musical
What’s it about? A musical tribute to the classics of the 50’s and 60’s, La La Land tracks two people trying to make it big in Hollywood.
Why watch? La La Land follows Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) tapping their way to stardom in modern-day Hollywood. Both a pair of nobodies, they have dreams of making it big – Mia an actress and Sebastian a jazz club owner. Through the support of one another and several musical numbers, La La Land is a somewhat bittersweet love story, that has a marmite ending. Although now arguably more famous because of THAT Academy Awards gaff, this colourful film will have you shuffling in your seat and recalling your past relationships and thinking, ‘What If?’. If you’re not fussed about their story, then tune in for the stunning tribute to classics like Singin’ in the Rain and the awe-inspiring set pieces.