We all have soft spots for high-flying superheroes, Michael Bay-engineered explosions and fantasy voyagers retrieving mythical trinkets from faraway lands. But at the end of the day, is there any greater feeling for a moviegoer than clutching the hand of your special someone as you're both reminded of the power of love?
'Tis the season, ladies and gentlemen. And since Cupid's arrow doesn't always hit its mark, sometimes you need the aid of a nice dinner, dim lighting and a classic romantic DVD. With that in mind, in no particular order, here are the all-time greatest movie romances that still make our hearts skip a beat.
It's the most romantic movie you've never heard of, and it's brand-new to DVD. So what are you waiting for? The remarkably simple story follows a pair of poor Irish musicians who complement each other both onstage and off. If you and your mate end up singing the love songs to each other, don't say we didn't warn you.
"The Notebook" (2004)
Old people love it. Young people love it. Everybody except for jaded lovers and film critics, it seems, gets tears in their eyes whenever you bring it up. The timeless tale of forbidden lovers, a broken-down house and a whole lotta ducks (paired alongside elderly friends, a retirement home and one last snuggle) grows more romantic each time you watch it. Bottom line: You'll love it more than McAdams loves Gosling.
"Say Anything ..." (1989)
Shows from "Family Guy" to "Grey's Anatomy" to "Lost" still make reference to the classic scene in which Lloyd Dobler holds a boom box over his head, offering a late-'80s serenade to seemingly perfect school valedictorian Diane Court. But there's simply nothing quite like the original. Writer/director Cameron Crowe knows real people better than anyone, and "Say Anything ..." is magical because it's the story of a flawed, insecure, charismatic teenage nobody falling for a princess whose glass slippers are slowly slipping away. Every line is a classic, every scene rings true and by the end of the film, when Diane holds Lloyd's hand on that airplane, you'll undoubtedly find someone squeezing yours as well.
"Before Sunrise" (1995) and "Before Sunset" (2004)
If you had one day with the one person who was right for you in this world, what would you say? What would you do? Would you recognize your soul mate or spend the rest of your life regretting that you said goodbye? This impossibly provocative premise provides the starting point for Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in these films, and the improv-heavy dialogue makes the journey well worth taking. After you've watched both films, you'll feel as though their romantic memories are your own: Remember the park? The graveyard? The palm reader at the cafe and the impromptu song in Celine's apartment? It's the most in-depth depiction of love our generation will ever know — especially if director Richard Linklater ever gets around to making that third film.
Maybe not enough time has passed yet, but let us be the first to say that Juno (Ellen Page) and Bleeker (Michael Cera) deserve to go down as one of the most romantic couples in movie history. "I need to know two people can stay together forever," the title character tells her father, and it is then that her real story begins. An unexpected pregnancy forces the duo to turn into adults quickly, but they face a lot of the more typical high school problems too: breakups, arguments and taking stink-eyed girls to the prom. But at the end of the day, they end up making beautiful music together — quite literally. They sure are cute for two ugly people.
"Love Story" (1970)
If the path to every man's heart is through his stomach, the path to every woman's is via her tear ducts. So get your lovely lady's eyeballs focused on the sappiest romantic flick in the history of cinema. Ryan O'Neal is in his glossy glory, Ali MacGraw isn't long for this world and love means never having to say you're sorry. Make sure the coffee table is stocked with Kleenex.
"When Harry Met Sally" (1989)
The only film in the history of humankind that each and every woman loves. Don't believe us? Go ahead and try to find one who doesn't swoon at the mere mention of nine magical words: "Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash." The laughter, the worldly observations and the romance are simply too real to deny. Hell, the mere fact that Billy Crystal was transformed into a sexy leading man shows how extraordinary the film is. So can two friends sleep together and still love each other in the morning? In the immortal words of Meg Ryan: Yes, yes, yes!
"Moulin Rouge!" (2001)
No woman can deny it, and no man can get through it. Just bite the bullet, fellas. One thing's for sure: It's a lot cheaper than a dozen roses.
"Shaun of the Dead" (2004)
Disguised as a zombie flick, it's actually got a softer side. Edgar Wright's brilliant send-up of the zombie genre follows all the story beats of a romantic comedy, from boy meets girl, to boy loses girl, to boy gets girl back again. Usually, of course, the relationship is broken up by something other than a walking army of the undead. That said, it's a totally foolproof way of getting her to return your calls.
"Jerry Maguire" (1996)
"You complete me." We wouldn't care if this movie had Brett Favre, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning fixing their carburetors while simultaneously crushing beer cans against their skulls. With a line like that, it would still be a romantic comedy. We'd continue, but then, "You had me at hello."
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