TOP TEN LIST: All You Need Is Love 2: The Lovening Top 10 Modern Day Romance Films
By Scott Kurland
Last year, three months before February, I posted a top ten Romance film list. That list was the top ten romantic films of all time. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought I’d do the top ten romance film of the last few years, you know modern love. These are the top ten modern day romance films. These are the films that basically copied other classic love stories, but redefined the genre it would become apart of. Granted, I threw one curveball and bent the rules, but this is my site and I call the shots. So how about this, instead of taking your significant other out to a nice dinner or to the movies, read them this top ten list... I swear nothing bad will happen.
10. ) “The Spectacular Now” 2013, A24 pictures- This film is a triple love story, about loving the wrong girl, the right girl, and the one vice that is masked as love... booze. Miles Teller gives a game changing performance as Sutter Keely. Sutter, is that rare combination of Zack Morris and John Cusack. Everyone loves Sutter, especially Shailene Woodley’s Aimee. However, Aimee can’t compete with Sutter’s one true love...alcohol. “The Spectacular Now” is a very dark love story, it shows us the great things love can provide, and the heart wrenching side of it all. Watching as Aimee destroys her life for Sutter in the hopes he’ll notice her is real and raw, but it is very painful. The reason this is number ten is because not only does it accurately depict teenage love (ages 15-19), but it showcases a teenager’s ability to change. Although it takes Sutter a really, really, really long time to accept change, we’re left believing that love has conquered all.
9.) “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower” 2012, Summit Entertainment- “Perks” is a little bit like “The Spectacular Now”, we see real age appropriate teenagers being teenagers. We also see twenty something actors pretending to be age appropriate teenagers as well. The beauty of “Perks” is that it’s a love story about getting your dream girl, but it’s also a love story about loving yourself. Logan Lerman and Emma Watson have real chemistry as Charlie and Sam. When I say chemistry I'm talking Jennifer Grey/Patrick Swayze "Dirty Dancing" chemistry. Matthew Broderick/Ally Sheedy “War Games” chemistry. What makes “Perks” such a great love story is the ending, this entire film you think Charlie was pining for Sam, but they were both pining for each other. There’s a lot of family drama in this film that may prevent it from being seen as a love story. I assure you it is one of the most profound teenage angst filled love stories of all time.
8. ) “Warm Bodies” 2013, Summit Entertainment and Lionsgate Films- Here’s a zombie love story where a member of the undead becomes human to be with the girl. He doesn’t love her because she’s beautiful, he loves because she smart and uses her brain....her delicious, delicious brain. When I first saw “Warm Bodies” it took me two viewings to realize that this film was “Romeo and Juliet”. You know, "Romeo and Juliet" with Zombies instead Italian sword fighters. What still makes me watch “Warm Bodies” time and time again is how simple it is. There’s nothing complex, R loves Julie and it starts his heart pumping again. He doesn’t need to prove his love at all. Julie totally understands that he’s changing back for her, and that makes her love him. Sometimes romance/ Sci-Fi films get caught up in the details and plot which is a bad crutch to lean on. “Warm Bodies” is different, this is the first time I’ve seen a film that lets the audience know up front that our hero is seen as the villain. Once it does that we see his life and who he is. R is basically a retro hipster zombie. Knowing this we understand why Julie, a human can fall for a guy like R. That’s why “Warm Bodies” is number 8.
7.) “A Fish Called Wanda”1988, MGM- Ok, ok this is the curveball I was talking about. I wanted to put “A Fish Called Wanda” on my last list, however it came down to “Harold and Maude” or “A Fish Called Wanda”. I picked the former, and now I’m adding the latter. I think “A Fish Called Wanda” may be the greatest love....not triangle, everyone is in love with Jamie Lee Curtis so it’s like a love parallelogram. Watching Kevin Kline and John Cleese fight for Curtis’ never fails to amuse me. This is a film that I think everyone can appreciate, women because of the love story and comedy. Men can appreciate all the slapstick and violence, also there’s two guys from Monty Python in it. “A Fish Called Wanda” could have easily been replaced with a modern love triangle film like “American Hustle”, but “Wanda” does it way better. Everyone who I have recommended this film to always sends me an email and tells me thank you for the suggestion. I have yet to get one compliant about it. “A Fish Called Wanda” is a love story first, a comedy second, and always enjoyable.
6.) “The Wind Rises” 2013, Studio Ghibli- Ok I needed one tearjerker on this list, so why not make it come from Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki takes the true story of japanese aviation genius Jiro Horikoshi, and gives us an in depth look at his inspiration to make plane....his wife Naoko. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Emily Blunt voice Jiro and Naoko, and their performance is why I stick by my statement that voice acting is the most difficult acting job in the world. Levitt and Blunt convey one of the most beautiful and sad love stories of all time. Jiro and Naoko love each other so much, but circumstances prevent them from being together. This entry is like last year’s entry of “UP”. You are given a powerful love story through animated characters, and I’ll be damned if it is not one of the most compelling love stories of all time.
5.) “Only Lovers Left Alive” 2014, Sony Pictures Classic- This film was on my best films of the year list for 2014, and I stand by this powerful vampire love story. What makes this love story work is not the vampire plot line, it’s the bond of two souls. Adam (Tom Hiddleston) loves music and Eve (Tilda Swinton) loves books and they have some of the most intelligent conversations about Jack White, Mary Shelley, and Christopher Marlowe. This is a love story where their passion radiates off of the screen, and you can just feel the energy of these two lovers. That’s why this film is so effective if it feels real to the audience. Trust me when I say, this film is the most real love story of the last ten years.
4.) “Her” 2013, Annapurna Pictures and Warner Brothers- “Her” makes this list for for two reasons. 1.) It’s a pure love story of two beings told from the beginning of the relationship all the way to the bitter end. 2.) It’s a love story for the digital age, people are so enveloped in technology that in all honesty we should just marry our gadgets...I mean cell phones. Spike Jonez’ award winning screenplay is a beautiful and poignant look at unexpected love after a terrible break up. What makes this one of the greats is the charisma of Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson. Individually, they work so well as characters, but when they blend it’s so beautiful. I have heard “Her” labeled as cyber porn. I have heard it called art, is there a right answer I don't know. All I know is this, “Her” is one of the only films I have seen that really hit me hard with emotion. I’m not saying it melted my cold film critic heart, and I’m not saying it didn’t. What it did do was put the definition of “LOVE” into perspective. Just because something doesn’t have a body does not mean it can’t be loved. “Her” is proof of this.
3.) “Silver Linings Playbook” 2012, The Weinstein Company- I love “Silver Linings Playbook”!!!! David O. Russell’s adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel gave us two great love interests, Pat and Tiffany. What makes this a great love story is that it showcases tragedy as a jumping off point for love. Pat (Bradley Cooper), nearly killed the man sleeping with his wife, he was thrown into a mental hospital, and came out a better person. Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), looses her husband, becomes a nymphomaniac, gets fired from her job, and makes Pat become her dancing partner. All this happens either before the film starts, or we see it unfold in the first twenty minutes. From there on, our conflict is resolved and we get to sit back and watch a very dysfunctional love story unfold. Pat and Tiffany are absolutely bonkers, but maybe the only way to love crazy is to be crazy.
2.) “What If... ” 2014, Entertainment One- Here’s another one of my favorite films of 2014, and luckily for you it’s a modern day “When Harry Met Sally.” What I like about “What If...” is we officially get an answer to the age old question, Can men and women be friends? No, no they can’t, it's the exact same answer we got in 1989 from Crystal and Ryan. Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan as Wallace and Chantry have this innocent connection complete with pithy dialogue. What makes this film so charming and romantic are the conversation. The way Wallace and Chantry bond and talk are the way you’d bond with the girl you’re trying to win over. “What If” is number 2 for a reason, charm! This an intoxicatingly charming film, there’s no bad guy or good guy. The love story is pure, the characters are more developed then any big budget film, and it brings back that nostalgia of 80s RomComs. “What If” will slowly grow into cult status, as one of the great romance films of all time.
1. “About Time” 2013, Universal Pictures- This is it folks, the epitome of modern Romance from Mr. Romance himself Richard Curtis. I wrote my first romance list because of this film, so I'd be crazy not to make it number one. Curtis is responsible for such classics as “Love, Actually”, “Notting Hill”, and “Four Weddings and A Funeral”. What makes “About Time" the greatest love story of the modern day is the fact it’s a double love story. The first is Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) and Mary (Rachel McAdams) falling in love, and Tim traveling through time to make it perfect for her. The second is Tim and his father (Bill Nighy), I think this is the sweeter of the two stories. Curtis begs the question, why does a love story have to between a man and a woman? Isn’t the love of a time traveling father and son just as effective? Yes, it truly is. Everything in “About Time” is told through the rose color glasses and illusion of love. Whether it is the unknown time period, the character's development, or what have you this is a great film. Yet, none of it is important when you realize the goal of Curtis is to show you two forms of endless love for one lucky man who is both a son and a husband. “About Time” is the most romantic modern day film we have.