to watch at home
text by Fiona Clarke, Darcy Bittner and Kathryn Brooks
Above: When Harry Met Sally (1989) starring Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal.
Rather that fight the crowds on Valentine’s Day evening, why not settle in at home? Whether you choose to share the evening with special someone or simply enjoy some well-deserved alone-time, a romantic movie will have you believing that love does exist. We went back a bit in time to locate twenty of our favorite flicks available to rent, purchase and/or stream at www.amazon.com
Above: Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
It Happened One Night (1934)
This iconic Frank Capra-directed Best Picture winner has a title that could be referring to one of two things: 1) that time Clark Gable’s Peter and Claudette Colbert’s Ellie fell for each other, or 2) that time one film influenced every single romantic comedy that came after it.
Gone with the Wind (1939)
Loosen your petticoat; you’re in for nearly four hours of Technicolor melodrama. A Civil War epic—correction—THE Civil War epic about Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara and ladies’ man Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind is a fixture in the romance genre you, frankly, should give a damn about.
You can’t mention romance without referencing Humphrey Bogart’s Rick and Ingrid Bergman’s Ilsa. A wartime romance declaring only love can stand the test of time and bombs, Casablanca does what most romantic films dare never to do: forgoes the “typical” happy ending. And we’re so glad it does.
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
The year is 1920-something. Talkies are on the horizon, and everyone’s job at silent film studio Monumental Pictures is in jeopardy. But the only thing we care about are the buttery vocals of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds, and the smooth moves he puts on her. Get ready to fall in love.
Above: An Affair To Remember (1957) starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.
An Affair To Remember (1957)
Well-bred playboy Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and lounge singer Terry McKay (Deborah Kerr) meet on an ocean liner. Although both are engaged to be married to other people, sparks fly and true love blossoms. If in six months they still are committed to each other, they agree to rendezvous at the top of the Empire State Building.
The Apartment (1960)
To climb the corporate ladder, a man loans out his apartment to colleagues looking for a little afternoon delight. Director Billy Wilder’s legendary romantic comedy, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, features some of the wittiest banter ever spouted onscreen.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Upon its release in 1961, the public instantly fell head-over-heels in love with this romantic comedy. The image of Audrey Hepburn wearing a black evening dress, nibbling on a pastry and window shopping at daybreak has passed into our cultural iconography. What makes this film work is the exceptional charm and chemistry of its two stars. As movies go, this one is a classic.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
A guy who stands up to your father is such a turn-on. This is exactly what Johnny Castle, played by Patrick Swayze, does with his more-than-a-summer-fling fling, Baby, who is, of course, Jennifer Grey. Soul music, provocative dance numbers, cabin lovemaking—it has everything a good movie needs.
Above: Moonstruck (1987) starring Cher and Nicholas Cage.
We’re all aware of the dual abilities of actor Nicholas Cage: there’s good Cage and bad Cage. Ronny Cammareri, the one-handed baker in love with his brother’s fiancée in this Italian-American rom-com, is the best Cage. But the real star is Cher as Loretta, a role that snagged her a Best Actress Oscar. Now that’s amore.
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Can men and women actually just be friends? It’s the predicament put to the test in Nora Ephron’s rom-com that made Billy Crystal a superstar, Meg Ryan every woman’s heroine and Katz’s Deli the infamous New York City setting of the fake orgasm felt ’round the world.
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
Don’t act like cartoons can’t make you swoon. Disney taps into enchantment with an animated tale as old as time: cursed man must make woman love him to break the spell. Not only were audiences whisked away, but the Academy was also, as it was the first animated film to receive a Best Picture nomination.
All aboard James Cameron’s epic melodrama about love on the high seas. Even though the film snagged a boatload of shiny statues, its narrative harbors a fate not nearly as joyous. Feelings about the extra real estate on the big floating door aside, we’d have it no other way. For Jack and Rose, our hearts will go on.
Above: Brokeback Mountain (2005) starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Director John Madden’s Oscar winner about the man behind the prose rather than the prose itself blends contemporary humor and Shakespearean comedy into a crowd-pleasing gem of iambic pentameter wordplay, 16th-century affectations and, above all, the juiciest of romances.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
Sometimes you need a little more than just sweet nothings and rolls in the hay—like an epic martial arts adventure defying the laws of gravity. Ang Lee’s wuxia film takes the action from the rooftops of Beijing to the treetops of a bamboo forest, all while a pair of love stories plays out on the ground below.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Ang Lee’s meditative adaptation about the taboo, two-decade romance shared by a pair of cowboys in the American West marks the pivotal moment when gay cinema went mainstream. As groundbreaking as it is heartbreaking, the film is a tender and unforgettable love story.
Away from Her (2006)
Sarah Polley broke our hearts with her painfully beautiful story of love and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s about a husband (Gordon Pinsent) who can only watch his institutionalized wife, played by Julie Christie, slip away and fall in love with another patient at her nursing home. Tissues. You will need tissues.
Above: Brooklyn (2015) starring Saoirse Ronan and Emory Cohen.
Like Crazy (2011)
The top-prize film at Sundance 2011, Drake Doremus’s standing-ovation romantic drama had audiences waxing nostalgic over their first loves. Watching Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones act out the rocky romance between Jacob and Anna, a couple tested by immigration hardships, will do that.
The Lunchbox (2014)
Ready the appetite; this one’s a feast for the eyes. A feel-good story starring Irrfan Khan from Slumdog Millionaire and Life of Pi, it hinges on a wrongly delivered lunchbox, aka the catalyst for a pen-pal romance between a widower and an unhappy housewife. It’s like You’ve Got Meal.
In this festival hit from John Crowley, Eilis Lacey, an Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan), is lured by the promise of America. She leaves the comfort of her homeland for New York City, settling in 1950s Brooklyn. Quickly falling in love with a local, Eilis’ past catches up with her and she must choose between two countries.
La La Land (2016)
Gridlocked traffic, casting call rejections, commuter smog—isn’t all so romantic? But, really, Damien Chazelle’s love letter to the classic movies of yore enchants with dance numbers, musical interludes and the onscreen chemistry firing between real-life pals Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling.