TOP TEN LIST: All You Need Is Love: The Top Ten Romance Films

By Scott Kurland

(Note: This list is from November 2013,  and it is a companion list with this weeks Top Ten list.)

I was saving this top ten for Valentine’s day for two reasons. 1.) I love being a cliche. 2.) I love being a cliche while eating a box of chocolates and writing a top ten list. Then I realized that I could eat a box of chocolates in November just as easily as I could in February, the only difference is it’s more depressing in November. Yet, I digress here’s the main reason I’m getting all sappy and lovie on you my faithful readers. After  my review  of “About Time” I just felt all warm, fuzzy, and sentimental. I also realized that a lot of the best romance came out around Christmas and Thanksgiving, so I thought what the Hell let’s do this thing shall we. So grab your significant other, and read a top ten of list written by a neurotic hopeless romantic.

10. Wings Of Desire 1987, Orion Classic Pictures- Wim Wenders (pronounced Vim Vendors) classic love story of a lonely angel named Damiel (Bruno Ganz), who is invisible to the world, but becomes visible when he falls in love for a beautiful Trapeze artist. This is the film that taught me the value of blending black and white with colored film, a technique which I replicated in several short films. It’s also a beautiful cautionary tale of what you sacrifice when you give up a large part of your life. The love story, although bittersweet is pure and tragic. Besides a love story there’s an excellent supporting role from the amazing Peter Faulk practically playing himself. This film was also the inspiration to the film “City Of Angels”, but don’t hold that stigma against this piece of romance cinema.

9. Chasing Amy 1997, Miramax- For those of you who say Kevin Smith is a rude, crude, potty mouth that makes films about stoners and slackers, you’re right. But, also Smith is the artistic indie soul who gave us this miraculous love story called “Chasing Amy”. Let me take you through the plot, Boy (Ben Affleck) meets Girl (Joey Lauren Adams). Boy falls for girl, girl turns out to be a lesbian, but boy fights for her love in hopes that she will look past gender and focus on love. However, when he learns of her past he gets a wake up call he never expected. Kevin Smith is a wordsmith, he gets dialog, he gets people, but most importantly he gets right to the heart of all problems. “Chasing Amy” breaks down walls and brings to light the real truth that is love. Love isn’t pretty, people have secrets that they try to in trust in people that they hope are caring enough to understand. Smith’s message is if you truly are in love a person’s past should not matter, because that person has evolved into the hot mess you fell in love with and would do anything for.

8. Breakfast At Tiffany’s 1961, Paramount Pictures- Now this film should be the origin for the phrase “Hooker With A heart Of Gold”. The story of Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) was meant to be darker according to writer Truman Capote. However, Blake “Pink Panther” Edwards is a sappy romantic and gave Holly’s story a Hollywood fairytale spin. The story of Holly is told through the eyes of a naive writer named Paul (George “A Team”  Peppard), who falls hopelessly in love with the free spirited, Holly. Caught in  her world of parties and gentlemen callers, Paul continues to believe that because he’s the one person who makes Holly happy he’s the one she’ll end up with. What I love about “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” is how of it’s time it was. If you were to watch it today, you’d see a simpler time. That time period was easy to set a love story in, and was easier to sell the story of a call girl finding true love. If you set “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” in the present you’d have a less convincing love story, and possibly the studios would add a humorous Pimp character named Jamarcus to be a thorn in Paul’s side. Yet, 1961 depicted a stigma free love story. A love Story of a confused farm girl pretending to be an English Socialite who moonlights as a call girl. The love story is messy even for the 60’s, but it is still one of the best love stories of the last fifty years.

7. Disney Pixar’s UP 2009, Pixar- I’m sure you’re all thinking I’m insane for putting this on my list, but the first twenty minutes of “UP” is such a tender and beautiful love story. This is one of the few films that I saw in a packed audience of people who all bawled their eyes out because of  Carl and Ellie’s love story. The brilliant thing about this love story is how Carl’s love began as a small boy and his love for Ellie carried far past her death. The entire film is motivated by Carl’s love for his wife, and the house slowly becomes a metaphor for Ellie because it’s so full of memories of her. Yes, its an animated love story, but their twenty minute love story shown on screen has more love and romance than all of the “Twilight” films combined. Bella and Edward have nothing of Ellie and Carl.

6. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind 2004, Focus Features- Here’s a film that proves love never dies even after a break up. Kate Winslet’s Clementine erases ex boyfriend Joel (Jim Carrey) from her memory. So, Joel erases her to get even, but inside the labyrinth that is his mind is the sweetest love story of a man trying desperately to erase a woman.  However, he soon learns she truly was the best thing to ever happen to him. The best thing about this film is that it begins at the end takes you to the beginning in the middle, and ends strong in the future of a relationship that is bounded to repeat itself. So many conspiracy theories about Clementine and Joel’s relationship have been brought to light, but my favorite of all of the theories is this one. “Clementine and Joel have erased each other several times before this current procedure occurred.” There’s plenty of evidence that suggests this to be true, but what is endearing is that somehow they always end up together. Relationships aren’t perfect, sometimes they’re just down right cruel, but if there’s a glimmer of regret they can rekindle time after time, and “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” proves this to be true.

5. Casablanca 1942, Warner Brothers- “The World Will Always Welcome Lovers, As Time Goes By.” Who would have thought one of the world’s greatest love stories would be filled with Nazis and “The Invisible Man” in supporting roles. “Casablanca” is one of the sweetest and sour love stories of all time. The sweet,  Bogart and Bergman’s chemistry, you believe their love story of two star crossed lovers fleeting past each other. You also believe that Bergman’s rejection is extremely capable of turning Bogart into a scorned man who trusts no one. That’s where the sour comes into play. What can’t be denied is how amazing this love story truly is nor how Fifty-two years after it’s release, “Casablanca” still holds true to new audiences discovering it everyday.

4. When Harry Met Sally... 1989, Columbia Pictures- “I’ll have what she’s having.” Here’s the film that proves that men and women can’t be friends. Why not you ask?  Well, because sooner or later they go and muck it all up by falling in love with each other. Billy Crystal has never been better as the sarcastic and sardonic Harry and Meg Ryan is adorable as Sally the obsessive compulsive fake orgasming best friend to Harry. What’s beautiful about this film is we see over the course of many years their friendship turn into a love story, and the love story is beautiful even at times heartbreaking. However, “When Harry Met Sally...” is one of those love stories that encourages young women to take a risk on a friend because with love you just never know when it will poke it’s little head out. The end result is showing up on New Years Eve and doing the one thing you should have done long ago, fall in love.

3. Love, Actually 2003, Universal Studios- “Love Actually Is All Around.” Here’s one of the best Holiday films and blended love stories ever made. We get the master of British RomCom Richard Curtis writing and directing a tale of different love stories. Whether it’s Andrew Lincoln’s love triangle with Kiera Knightley and Chiewetel Ejioufour. Alan Rickman’s boring married life with Emma Thompson. Or a failing musician played by Billy Nighy, realizing his only love besides drugs and music is his fat old balding manager. There’s even more stories in this film but not enough space to talk about them all. To me the best love story is Liam Nesson as a stepdad, who has a special set of skills, he doesn't know who you are. But, he will find you and he will kill you...just kidding. Nesson's Daniel adopts his deceased wife’s eleven year old son, and is helping him woo the girl of my dreams. Curtis proves with this film that there are many forms of love and all of them are beautiful. This is one of the sweetest films ever made.

2. Harold and Maude 1971, Paramount Pictures- You know, at one time, I used to break into pet shops to liberate the canaries.” Many people chastised me for not putting this on my cult classics lists and I would always say if i did that than I can’t put it on my romance list. So here it is at number two “Harold and Maude” a love story about a depressed twenty year old man (Bud Cort) who attends funerals for fun and falls in love with a 79 year old woman (Ruth Gordon). A lot of people hear the idea of a twenty year old falling for a 79 year and cringe, but those who actually watch the film love it. “Harold and Maude” is a beautiful love story because of it’s message, an elderly old woman teaches a depressed young man how to live his life the right way. That’s what love truly is,  finding the right person who can kick you in the ass and tell you to snap out of it. Although, we know that it’s a love that will never last because she’s so old, we know Harold will become stronger from her love.

1. Annie Hall 1977, United Artists-Love is too weak a word for what I feel - I luuurve you, you know, I loave you,  I luff you, two F's, yes I have to invent, of course I - I do, don't you think I do?” This is probably one of my favorite films of all time. It's probably the one film I show to people frequently. “Annie Hall” ruined me for the world, because I always romanticized  about finding my own Annie. I wanted an easy going loving  girl to tell me I’m what her grandmother would call “a real Jew”. You know just the right amount of love and anti-semitism. “Annie Hall” proves that sometimes love doesn’t always last, and sometimes it makes you realize how it was good anyways regardless. Whether it’s Woody’s neurotic talking to the audience, or breaking down how a film was told, “Annie Hall” made you love again and again. Diane Keaton defined the perfect woman with her big hats, dark sunglasses, and her “La Di Da” personality. This film is what a love story is suppose to be in the words of Woody, “It’s full of pain and suffering and it’s over much too quickly.” In my opinion “Annie Hall” is the greatest love story ever told, and it also makes you wonder if Alvy and Annie finally made it work, or if they really did go their separate ways. “Oh well, anyway, La Di Da, La Di Da.”

scott kurlandComment