1) Before Sunrise (1995) /Before Sunset (2004) /Before Midnight (2013)
Richard Linklater’s “Before” trilogy is his lesson on how to do a relationship drama right. Linklater is one of those rare filmmakers who seem to have a knack for understanding people better than others. The three films are filled with plenty of intellectually stimulating conversations. Critics and fans have lauded the films’ accurate depiction of real-life relationships. These are the perfect Valentine’s Day films, especially Before Sunrise.
2) Marty (1955) (click for my detailed review)
Marty is about an unmarried Italian butcher who is pestered by everyone about his single status. In order to put an end to this, he pursues a lonely schoolteacher after she is abandoned by a blind date. The two hit it off instantly and begin a relationship. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture and also Cannes’ Palme d’Or, the film is quite unconventional in that the two leads are not the typical, extremely good-looking types you usually see in movies. These are very ordinary-looking, real characters. Ernest Borgnine’s best role.
3) In the Mood for Love (2000) (click for my detailed review)
4) An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)
Okay, now this is a classic example of a romantic movie with two really good-looking individuals. Richard Gere and Debra Winger look like people straight out of a Mills & Boon novel but the difference here is that this ain’t no pulpy love story. Gere and Winger share a sizzling on-screen chemistry. That climax scene accompanied by Joe Cocker’s “Up Where We Belong” always puts a big smile on my face. Louis Gossett Jr. won a Best Supporting Actor Award for his performance as a tough but funny and compassionate drill sergeant.
5) The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
Now, this is one film that had me crying buckets. I couldn’t really believe that Clint Eastwood was really acting in a warm romantic film. Who would’ve thought him capable of playing a soft-spoken and gentle lover, eh? I mean, this is Dirty Harry we are talking about. Seeing him in a role like this was a huge surprise. And do I even have to say how good Meryl Streep is? This is a tear-jerker of the finest order. Highly recommended.
6) Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
David O. Russell’s emotionally rewarding and funny film with brutally honest and vulnerable performances from both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. The film also saw Robert De Niro in a return to form after a long time.
7) Reds (1981)
Winner of 3 Academy Awards including Best Director for Warren Beatty, it depicts the love affair between two real-life journalists (played by Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton) in the 1900s. It also stars Jack Nicholson in a supporting role. The strong performances from all the three actors plus the striking cinematography from Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) makes this one a must-see.
8) Sur mes lèvres (Read My Lips) (2001)
Directed by Jacques Audiard (Un Prophete), it’s about a lonely, partially deaf office woman (Emmanuelle devos) who recruits a former criminal (Vincent Cassel) as her assistant. When she learns that he has a plan to rob his mob boss, she reluctantly becomes his accomplice.
9) Love Actually (2003)
Well, this romantic comedy could be the biggest of them all. It’s funny, extremely charming and a perfect Christmas movie. British humor at it’s best.
10) To Have and Have Not (1944)
The sparkling chemistry between real-life couple Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall overshadows everything else in this film from director Howard Hawks. It’s during the making of this film where the two actors fell in love. Also stars Hawks regular Walter Brennan.
11) Her (2013)
Yes, I think a film about Joaquin Phoenix dating an operating system should be on this list. A very adorable film that brings up some thought-provoking questions about relationships in today’s digital age.
12) The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
This Ernst Lubitsch romantic comedy is about two people who work together but can’t stand the sight of each other. They gradually come to realize that the pen pals they’ve been in love with, are actually each other. Remade as You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. I prefer this version more.
13) Midnight in Paris (2011) (click for my detailed review)
14) Cinema Paradiso (1988)
Yes, there is a sub-plot of the protagonist falling in love with a girl but the film primarily focuses on his love affair with cinema and ultimately it’s cinema that stays with him forever and not the girl. (He he). It’s Giuseppe Tornatore’s delightful love letter to cinema and a must-watch for every serious cinephile. This is another film that made me very emotional. The Director’s Cut can make you even more emotional. I cried.
15) The Age of Innocence (1993)
A wealthy lawyer recently engaged to a bubbly socialite begins to question his love towards her when he crosses path with her cousin, a Countess who is looked at as an outcast by the rest of society. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder, this underrated Martin Scorsese film is an adaptation of Edith Wharton’s novel of the same name. I don’t think many people have seen this film. Even the hardcore Day-Lewis fans seem to favor his more intense films over this. It’s arguably his most subdued performance but still a very fine one at that.