Love Is All Around: The Top 10 Movies For Valentine’s Day

After the candlelit dinner, moonlight swim, and vigorous love-making, there’s always time to keep the love going with a classic romantic movie…

Taylors Swift and Lautner in ‘Valentine’s Day’. Image credit: Bustle

The annual day of romance is upon us! How can we tell our other half how lost we’d be without them? “You had me at hello”: too simple. “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”: maybe not. “O how I do I love thee? Let me count the ways”: that’ll take days! Perhaps it’s time to call in the experts. The romantic movie may not appeal to everyone, but when it comes to celebrating love and inspiring romance it can’t hurt to take a few cues from these flicks.

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The Princess Bride: Amongst the many messages about love in The Princess Bride (1987), there is none more poignant than this: “Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while”. The epic love between Wesley and Buttercup is one that only strengthens with time. Despite the initial reaction upon its release, the satirical fantasy -balanced perfectly between swashbuckling action and gooey romance, not to mention the memorable cast and colourful characters – has become one of the most celebrated classics in the romance canon with the heroes battling everything from ROUS (rodents of unusual size) to death itself, all the while reminding audiences that there is no force on earth greater than true love.

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Romeo + Juliet: Baz Luhrmann’s retelling of Shakespeare’s ultimate romantic tragedy is as timeless as it is contemporary. Critics may not have appreciated the ‘MTV Shakespeare’ aesthetic that Luhrmann created in reimagining the play for a modern audience –though he kept the Shakespearean dialogue – but they failed to understand the power of the romantic story. If Romeo + Juliet (1996) teaches us anything it’s that true love and romance is something that transcends generations, losing nothing of its potency as it adapts to the times. And if you’re stuck for an answer when your date asks, “how do I look” just swoop in with the ‘ol “did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight, for I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”

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When Harry Met Sally: Not all love stories have to be epic dramas or begin with love at first sight. When Harry Met Sally (1989) – although a little bit dated by today’s rom-com standards – still proves to be a popular classic in the romance canon. The film’s romantic arc is not only modern, but a beautiful depiction of natural love beginning with the two leads disliking one another, forming a friendship, and finally entering a relationship over the course of many years. The unlikely pairing of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan as romantic leads successfully paints a picture of the everyman’s love, and the lessons to take away from the film are ones of compatibility and rethinking prior judgments; all wrapped up in a funny story with plenty of memorable, laugh-out-loud moments.

“We need Kate and we need Leo, and we need them now!” – Liam Neeson, Love Actually (2003).

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Titanic: You know it’s a poignant love movie when it’s referenced in Love Actually. The doomed romance in James Cameron’s Titanic (1997) is the closest thing to Romeo and Juliet that the 20th –and indeed the 21st – century has to offer. The film tackles every hindrance to love including conflicting class systems, betrothal, and the looming threat of inescapable death. And somehow throughout it all the love between Jack and Rose thrives until the bitter –and I mean bitter– end. Everything about the film from its length to its lavish art design is a visual representation of the awesome power of love, however impractical.

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The Notebook: The movie that made Nicholas Sparks a household name, The Notebook (2004) is a film that explores the undying aspect of love, even when it’s lost. Jumping between scenes set in the modern day as well as various flashbacks that tell the romantic story itself, it depicts a beautiful romance that battles against a number of conflicts while simultaneously exploring the idea that tales of love and romance are the stories worth telling. More than that, it’s the film that brought back kissing in the rain and made it the height of romantic movie fashion as well as inspired an entire Sparks-esque film aesthetic. If that’s not the criteria for a classic, then Cupid needs to rewrite the book!

“Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rate the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.” –Peter Falk, The Princess Bride (1987)

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Pretty Woman: There comes a time in life when we hanker for more than the Disney fairytales that guided us as children. If only there were romantic fairytales for adults… cue Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Regarded as one of the best romantic comedies in cinematic history Pretty Woman (1990) retells the story of Cinderella –only if Cinderella were a prostitute and her Fairy Godmother, a rich businessman. A film where the characters denounce the great loves we read about and then proceeds –with dramatic irony- to morph into one of them Pretty Woman has been the go-to romantic film for over two decades. And with good reason: the chemistry between Roberts and Gere is fresh and biting, the story is a timeless classic, and the romantic themes as well as the everyday trials and tribulations that hinder them are still relevant to this day.

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Breakfast At Tiffany’s: Blake Edward’s adaptation of Truman Capote’s classic novella is iconic for more than the image of Audrey Hepburn in her black dress and diamond tiara. One of the more scandalous romances to make it into the canon, the love(s) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) is both rational – well, loosely – and emotional. The film’s central character –the beautiful but naïve Holly Golightly – flits in and out love with various –rich and older – gentlemen until she discovers true love in her friend and neighbour Paul. The film’s glamour mixed with its heartwarming central message about the nourishing nature of love is what makes it a classic. Not to mention the beautiful score from Henry Mancini as well as Hepburn’s sweet and breathy rendition of ‘Moon River’.

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10 Things I Hate About You: Despite writing in a time when the roles of men and women were very different, Shakespeare knew what he was doing when it came to love. Rivaling Romeo and Juliet is the tale of Katherina and Petruchio: a power couple whose love blossomed from pure loathing. Another love story that has transcended generations, one of the most popular retellings of the tale is Gil Junger’s teen rom-com 10 Things I Hate About You (1999). Proving that a love story is moving in any genre, the head-butting characters of the angry feminist Katarina and the roguish thug Patrick are timeless and show that love is not always about the romance: sometimes the fighting is just as fun.

 “You don’t step into love, you fall in. Head over heels. Have you ever seen anyone fall head over heels in love? It’s ugly bro.” -George Lopez, Valentine’s Day (2010)

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Roman Holiday: What could be more romantic than a European princess falling for an American journalist? The very definition of a whirlwind romance, William Wyler’s Roman Holiday (1953) is the Cinderella story turned upside down and the ultimate depiction of how a setting can be vital in nurturing love. Set against the romantic landscape of Rome where Princess Ann escapes after giving her handlers the slip, this princess-and-pauper tale depicts a love that can’t possibly go anywhere yet neither party cares, thus a recognisable story gets elevated into one of immortality. Add to this the memorable performances from romantic leads Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and it’s a recipe for a perfect romantic night in!

“Some of the best love stories start with a murder, and that’s just what this is… a love story.” – Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool (2016)

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Deadpool: It’s definitely not your conventional love story –everything in it works to kill a romantic evening – but there’s a reason Deadpool was released on Valentine’s weekend. Despite the wisecracking protagonist and the copious amounts of blood and dismemberment, not to mention the superhero origin story and revenge plot, Ryan Reynolds takes pains to remind us that the film’s central theme is in fact love. The science fiction twist of a man turning to scientific experimentation that ends up mutating him just so his girlfriend doesn’t have to watch him succumb to cancer is probably one of the most romantic plots ever. Not only is love the driving force behind Deadpool’s origin story, the entire revenge aspect is merely a subplot in the grander scheme to get his girl. It may not be in the romance canon yet, but Deadpool is a fledgling film and time’s going to tell on the point of its romantic immortality.

Happy Valentine’s Day from FIB!

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