Romance comes in many different forms. This is something most ‘best romantic movies’ lists tend to ignore. If you’re looking for the classics, you have plenty of options:
- A Walk to Remember
- Gone with the Wind
- Notting Hill
- Pretty Woman
- Something’s Gotta Give
- The Bodyguard
- The Notebook
- Wuthering Heights
I could go on for days. If you search online for a list of the best romantic movies, you’re going to find variations of the list I’ve given you above with maybe a few different titles thrown in here and there for good measure. That isn’t the kind of list I’m presenting to you today.
Brokeback Mountain is my favorite romantic movie of all time. Is it underrated? Perhaps not the same way some of the other movies on this list are, but it definitely is. Because the people in love, Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, are both men, this movie is often remembered as the ‘gay cowboy’ movie. In truth, it’s a lot more than that. Heartbreaking, beautiful and acted to perfection by the entire cast, Brokeback Mountainis, to me, what romantic movies are all about.
The movies on this list are some of the best romantic movies you’ll ever see, but they’re not all romantic in the classic sense of the word. There are romantic comedies, tearjerkers and a few twisted tales of romance for those twisted folks out there who need love too. The one thing they all have in common is that they don’t get nearly the love and respect they deserve. Each of the twenty movies on the list has an alternative choice. If you like the first recommendation or have already seen it, check out the second one. So without any further ado, I present you with ten of the best romantic movies that get no love (in alphabetical order).
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Cast: Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Andrew Keegan, Allison Janney, Gabrielle Union
Plot: When 10 Things I Hate About Youwas released it was a pretty successful little movie but it seems to have been almost entirely forgotten about and that is a shame. Sure it’s a bit of a cliché and you know exactly what’s going to happen in the end almost from the beginning, but it’s a truly entertaining watch. The performances are incredible. Heath Ledger plays a delightfully delicious bad boy with a heart of gold, Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays an adorably dorky but ultimately appealing love struck teen, Julia Stiles is near perfect as the cynical artist who falls in love with the bad boy—absolutely delightful. If you haven’t seen it, rent it tonight. It’s a lot of fun.
Alternative Choice: Good Luck Chuck. Good Luck Chuck gets a lot of hate but it’s really undeserved. It was a great movie overall, even if it was a bit over the top sometimes, and silly and downright stupid other times. It’s full of laughs, though, and will keep you entertained.
A Good Year (2006)
Cast: Russell Crowe, Freddie Highmore, Albert Finnie, Abbie Cornish, Archie Panjabi, Marion Cotillard
Plot: I picked this movie up for about $5 at my local Wal-Mart a few years back for two reasons; Russell Crowe and Abbie Cornish. It sat on my DVD shelf for a week or two before I decided to watch it. I was pleasantly surprised. With excellent performances from the entire cast and absolutely breathtaking scenery, this is a movie that really takes its time to develop. The characters grow and develop and the result is an incredibly touching and tender movie.
Alternative Choice: Spanglish. I don’t care what anyone says. This was a great movie. It was moving without being too heavy handed. Adam Sandler isn’t usually my cup of tea, but he was perfect in this one and Paz Vega? Love that woman. That’s not even mentioning Teá Leoni. Great acting, a great premise and an overall wonderful movie.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Cast: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood, Mark Ruffalo, David Cross, Kirsten Dunst
Plot: I generally don’t enjoy Jim Carrey films. That’s the most polite possible way I could think of saying I nearly skipped this one solely because he was in it. I’m glad I didn’t. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindis a unique and moving film featuring Carrey at his best opposite Winslet. While many of us would love to forget a relationship when things go south, this film dares to ask if we’d really want to forget it all if we could. This is what romantic movies are all about—all the heart with none of the cheese and no stereotypical Hollywood ending. Wonderful.
Alternative Choice: Dan in Real Life. Steve Carrell bugs the crap out of me in his more comedic roles, but he was absolutely brilliant in this more serious role. Dane Cook is also surprisingly understated even though his role is a fairly minor one. Touching, sincere and comedic, this is a great movie for a first date.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Cast: Kristen Bell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Mila Kunis, Jack McBrayer, Bill Hader
Plot: Forgetting Sarah Marshallis crude, over the top and absolutely hilarious. The movie is all about moving on after a difficult breakup and finding a way to be happy. Jason Segel is fantastic and his chemistry with both Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis is entirely believable. Russell Brand is over the top at every turn, but it suits his character perfectly. It’s a great date night movie.
Alternative Choice: Wedding Crashers. Vulgar, raunchy and over the top, this movie somehow still manages to find real heart and real emotion. You’re really rooting for the characters to find what they’re looking for. Laugh-out-loud-funny and still touching, this is a great example of a romantic comedy with an edge.
Love and Other Drugs (2010)
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria, Josh Gad, Judy Greer, George Segal
Plot: More than just your average romantic comedy, Love and Other Drugstells the story of two people who reluctantly fall in love only to have illness threaten to take that happiness away. This story doesn’t sugar coat anything. It leaves you with the idea that life won’t necessarily be happily every after for Jamie and Maggie, but that they’ll do everything they can to make it work. A beautiful story that is wonderfully acted.
Alternative Choice: P.S. I Love You. Gerard Butler and Hilary Swank offer up beautiful, moving performances in this dramatic comedy about a young widow (Swank) left with nothing but ten messages from her late husband to help her move on and start over. Emotional, engrossing and even fun, this is a movie that simple cannot be missed.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008)
Cast: Michael Cera, Kat Dennings, Aaron Yoo, Rafi Gavron, Ari Graynor, Alexis Dziena, Jay Baruchel
Plot: Love hipster style. Nick and Norahis one of those movies you’re either going to love or hate. It’s a great love story for the younger generation. This one isn’t preachy or laden with heavy handed messages of abstinence or any messages in general. It just tells the story of a guy with a crush on a girl and how far he’s willing to go to get a shot with her. It’s a fun movie well worth checking out.
Alternative Choice: The Last Kiss. I’ve never really understood how this movie didn’t make a bigger impact. I think its biggest problem was the fact that it stars Zach Braff and Rachel Bilson who would attract the type of audience that might be looking for something a little faster paced. It is a bit slow going, but well worth it. It shows heartbreak and regret so absolutely flawlessly and Braff’s performance is stunning. Excellent movie.
The Back-Up Plan (2010)
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Alex O’Loughlin, Michaela Watkins, Eric Christian Olsen, Danneel Ackles
Plot: A fun and charming little romantic comedy about a women (Lopez) intent on having a child whether she meets the right man or not, The Back-Up Plangets a lot of bad press but it’s actually a terrific movie. There isn’t much depth, it’s predictable and it’s cliché, but it’s also exceptionally entertaining. Do you always believe Jennifer Lopez in her role? No, but that doesn’t matter. Enjoy the movie for what it is and you’ll be glad you gave it a shot.
Alternative Choice: Burlesque. While almost universally panned, I quite enjoyed this one. It isn’t a masterpiece and it takes a little while to get going, but once it does, it’s a pretty great film. The love story is cliché and predictable, but that doesn’t make it any less of a joy to watch. Stick with it through the first little bit. You’ll be glad you did.
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (2009)
Cast: Robin Wright, Alan Arkin, Winona Ryder, Maria Bello, Keanu Reeves, Blake Lively, Julianne Moore, Mike Binder
Plot: I don’t really get what people don’t get about this movie. It might not be a thrill a minute, but it’s a beautiful film. We don’t learn much about the ‘private lives’ of Pippa, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s an intriguing, engrossing and intelligent film that might not answer all of our questions but that’s part of what makes it so appealing. I enjoyed this from beginning to end. While some might find it a little slow, be patient. It’s worth it.
Alternative Choice: Love Happens. Billed as a romantic comedy, this is really more of a romantic dramedy. Showing an honest portrayal of love, loss and moving on, this film is well worth watching. Jennifer Aniston gives a great performance, but the star here is really Aaron Eckhart (as it is with most things he’s in). There are moments that will make you laugh, but overall this is just the story of a man trying to avoid moving on when he has no choice but to do just that.
The Proposal (2009)
Cast: Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds, Mary Steenburgen, Craig T. Nelson, Betty White, Malin Ackerman
Plot: Okay, I’ll be honest. There’s absolutely nothing groundbreaking about The Proposal. It’s cliché. It’s cheesy. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and incredibly entertaining. Plus, Betty White’s in it and, as always, she’s awesome. You get to see her feel up Sandra Bullock and watch Sandra Bullock ‘get crunk’ in the woods. If you’re looking for brilliant story and emotional depth, perhaps you shouldn’t be considering a romantic comedy—especially not one starring Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock.
Alternative Choice: No Strings Attached. Bad reviews be damned, this was a pretty great movie. Sure there were lots of groan inducing moments, but it was a charming, entertaining and fun experience overall. Great performances from Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman are enough, on their own, to make this one worth watching.
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)
Cast: Patrick Fugit, Abraham Benrubi, Shannyn Sossamon, Leslie Bibb, Tom Waits
Plot: Here’s what you need to know about Wristcutters. It’s set in a sort of way-station somewhere between heaven and hell where people go after they’ve committed suicide. Seems like an odd setting for a love story to say the least but that’s exactly what this is. It’s dramatic but it’s quite lovely in the way the story is told. This is a love story for those who are looking for something truly out of the ordinary. You may be surprised to learn just how normal of a love story it is. Brilliantly done and an absolutely fantastic movie. You may have a bit of a hard time finding it though.
Alternative Choice: True Romance. Love Tarrantino style. This movie is absolutely brutal but yes, at its core, it’s a love story and it’s a damn romantic one at that. Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walkin, Brad Pitt (briefly) and James Gandolfini all turn in killer performances… no pun intended. Check it out, but be forewarned: it is brutal.