If you missed it, here is my complete Top 10 Romance Movies list. Instead of the typical list, today's list will rank the ten best films in ten subgenres of romance. To explain, there will be one film in each various subgenres like "Romantic Adventure" or "Romantic Drama" that I consider to be the best in its subgenre, and there are ten different subgenres that I will rank plus a bonus at the end.
To preface this entire weekend of posts, the romance genre is one that is often more miss than hit with me. Of course, I am referring to romance movies that actually try to be good, not those corny chick-flicks that I know I will not enjoy like the Notebook (that’s fine if you enjoy it). For me to care about a romance between two characters, I must first actually like the characters individually to the point where I, as the viewer, want these two characters to be together. Plus, the narrative must provide a compelling reason why the characters start a relationship, because way too many movies have rushed romances. Unfortunately, live-action films rarely succeed in making me care about the characters enough for the romance to work, which often leads to a painfully sappy resolution. However, there are a select few movie romances that work, and often times they are in films where the romance is not the main focus, like Iron Man or The Empire Strikes Back, because the characters are developed as individuals, not in relation to the other character. Of course, there are many anime that completely succeed in all respects, and you can read why anime executes romance better in tomorrow’s post. Now, without further ado, here’s the list.
Fantasy Romance: The Princess Bride
Plot: 8.6/10- Despite taking 10 to 15 minutes to find its groove, once the characters of characters Inigo Montoya and Fezzik are on screen the movie really picks the pace. Using the narrative device of a story within a story, the Princess Bride is a satire of the fantasy in general, and it most definitely succeeds. While some plot elements are clichéd, the clichés are intentional to produce some very clever humor.
Humor: 8.7/10- While not constantly hilarious, the Princess Bride is a very clever satire and comedy. The movie is able to ride the fine line between corny and cleverly satirical well, with only a few scenes crossing the line. Unlike Mel Brooks’ movies, where the parody goes too far into stupidity, the parody in the Princess Bride is not overly ridiculous most of the time. It is also entirely aware of how absurd and silly it is which works to its advantage. However, at times, the movie is a little too corny for its own good delving into not funny.
Overall: 8.6/10- From the clever comedy to quirky characters, The Princess Bride is a fun storybook like movie that is just generally entertaining to watch, and it is fun for the whole family (for the most part anyway). (Click here for the full review)
Honorable Mentions: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,
Action Romance: Casino Royale
Who would have actually expected a real romance in a James Bond film? Yet Casino Royale certainly delivers the most compelling relationship of the entire franchise, while also delivering possibly the best film in the franchise.
Characterization: 9.9/10- Casino Royale makes James Bond is real human character for the first time in the franchise. Even though the cheeky wit of the character in previous films is great fun, Casino Royale really dives into what makes him who he is, and a lot of his development is because of his relationship with Vesper Lynd. Bond's relationship with Vesper is surprisingly a central aspect, at least in regards to character development. What transpires with Vesper in the film provides the reason why Bond later becomes so cold hearted and not caring about relationships.
Action: 9.7/10- Martin Campbell's action direction is extraordinary! He uses a lot of actual stunts, which gives the film a classic feel to the action sequences that is reminiscent of the best action film ever, Raiders of the Lost Ark. From the insane record breaking car flip to the parkour chase sequence, the action sequences in the film are intense, gritty, and thrilling!
Overall: 9.5/10- Casino Royale makes Bond a human character while also delivering one of the best action and spy films ever made. Despite originally disliking the film upon my initial viewing, after furthering viewings, Casino Royale continues to convincement me that it is the best Bond film to date.
Honorable Mentions: True Lies,
Romantic Adventure: The African Queen
One of my first experiences with a Humphrey Bogart film, The African Queen is such a fun adventure film that throws romance and comedy into the mix.
Plot: 7.8/10- The African Queen takes place during World War I about a Canadian boat captain, Charlie Allnut, at the beginning of WWI in African. Rose Sayer is a passenger aboard Charlie's boat, and they eventually get tangled up in an adventure that leads them to grow closer throughout the film. The plot is rather simple and straightforward, yet effective and well paced, and the romance element is never under or over-played.
Humor: 8.0/10- The film is not the funniest movie ever, but Bogart and Hepburn's great chemistry and banter make for a good many laughs.
Overall: 8.0/10- While not Bogart's best work, The African Queen is one of his most entertaining, and the great banter and African scenery makes the film all the more entertaining.
Honorable Mentions: The Adventures of Robin Hood, Romancing the Stone,
Young Love/Romance: Whisper of the Heart
Adolescent and teen angst in fiction can the most annoying things ever, and the romance genre is often the main culprit for such annoyance. However, Japan can actually make young love, and even angst, surprisingly compelling, and few films demonstrate this better than Whisper of the Heart.
Plot: 8.3/10- Whisper of the Heart's plot is simple yet effective and deep in its own way. It is a coming-of-age story about a 14 year old girl named Shizuku. For those aspiring writers reading this, there will likely be a lot that you can relate to with the film, and while I am not a writer of fiction, as a writer of non-fiction, there was plenty for me to relate to as well.
Characterization: 9.5/10- While not the most memorable character ever, Shizuku is a very well developed and realistic character. She has real problems, and many aspects of her story seem as though it could actually happen. Seiji, while not given a lot of screen time, is good character for what is required of his character. Whisper of the Heart's romance is subtle and easily the best that I have seen between young characters. Typically, romance with younger characters is corny due to the lack of consequences, and Whisper of the Heart uses the romance to drive the theme of self-discovery.
Overall: 8.7/10- Whisper of the Heart is a criminally underrated film that few have actually seen, but if you are an aspiring writer, or already a writer, this is a film that should appeal to you. (Click here for the full review)
Honorable Mentions: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,
Romantic Drama: (500) Days of Summer
Bordering on romantic comedy, (500) Days of Summer ultimately places itself as one of the few romantic drama films to actually be good.
Plot: 7.8/10- Taking place from the perspective of male character, which is unusual for the genre, (500) Days of Summer manages to set itself far enough apart from the rest of the films in the romantic drama genre. Even though most romantic dramas are entirely predictable, the film takes an unexpected direction with the film's conclusion, and it is a nice change of pace compared to the predictability of the other films in the genre.
Characterization: 7.1/10- Tom Hansen, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a generally likable character, and his romantic expectations are almost a commentary on how romance is glamorized in fiction. Also, typically this role is played by the female character in the relationship. On the other hand, Summer Finn, played by Zooey Deschanel, has a more negative outlook on romance, which contrasts Hansen's view. My problem with the characters is that I never cared much for either of them, and while elements of commentary are interesting, the romance between characters was never all that interesting.
Overall: 7.7/10- Even though my lack of attachment to the characters detracted from the film, (500) Days of Summer's intriguing commentary on the genre makes it one of the more unique entries in an infamously weak genre.
Honorable Mentions: ?
Romantic Comedy: The Philadelphia Story
Plot: 7.7/10- The Philadelphia Story is less about the romance itself and more about the relationships between the characters. Like most older films, the characters are not all that complex, but the dialogue is often humorous and witty throughout, which is the main source of entertainment.
Acting: 9.5/10- James Stewart won an Oscar for his performance, and rightfully so, because his performance is superb as always. Cary Gran gives his trademark wit to the role, although his accent sounds more British than Philadelphian, and Katharine Hepburn is great in her breakout role.
Overall: 7.9/10- Thanks to the stellar cast and witty script, The Philadelphia Story is a fun and entertaining classic romantic comedy that holds up rather well.
Honorable Mentions: His Girl Friday,
Animated Romance: The Garden of Words
Chances are, you have ever heard of The Garden of Words, and if so, you need to give this 46 minute film a watch.
Plot: 8.0/10- The Garden of Words follows two character, Takao Akizuki, a hard-working high school student, who hopes to become a shoemaker, and Yukari Yukino, a woman in her mid-twenties. On rainy mornings, Takao skips school to sit in the park, which is where he meets Yukari, who always drinks alcohol and eats chocolate in the park. After several encounters over the course of a few months, more is revealed about Yukari and why she is always in the park.
Without spoiling anything, even though the plot is simple, it deals with some surprisingly controversial themes in an intelligent and mature way. The romance element is not the most prominent aspect of the film, but it executed in a very mature and realistic way, without ever being overly dramatic. The only notable issue with the plot is that not a lot happens during the early parts of the film, yet the meditative pace was very appealing to me, and it maintained my interest throughout.
Animation: 10/10- Stunning and beautiful cannot even begin to describe how utterly amazing The Garden of Words’ art is! With the exception of Ufotable's Garden of Sinners film series, nothing even compares to the hyperrealistic art style and mind-blowing visuals. Sure, the film mostly takes place in one park, but it is one of the most beautiful works of art I have ever seen. Every few moments, I literally thought: "Wow, how can this look so amazing!" Pictures and gifs can never do it justice, so you have to watch the film for yourself.
Overall: 8.6/10- Beautifully simplistic and bittersweet, The Garden of Words is a mind-blowingly stunning work of art that should be experienced by all.
Honorable Mentions: 5 Centimeters Per Second,
Classic Romance: Casablanca
Having not seen Casablanca in quite some time, providing accurate criticism is a bit difficult. However, from what I remember, I will try to say something constructive, but do remember it being a classic.
Actor: 9.5/10- My very first experience with a Humphrey Bogart film, it is no denying that he is one the greatest actors of all-time, and his performance in Casablanca is one for the history books. Ingrid Bergman, one of my favorite actresses, gives an exceptional performance as well.
Overall: 8.0/10- With unforgettable quotes like "Here's looking at you kid," Casablanca is an undeniable classic, and anyone interested in film should watch it at some point.
Honorable Mentions: Breakfast at Tiffany's, Roman Holiday, Sabrina,
Romantic Mystery/Thriller: Rear Window
Plot: 10/10- Rear Window shaped my early days of film reviewing by showing me what it means for a film to be suspenseful. From the slowburn buildup to the edge-of-your-seat finale, Hitchcocs demonstrates his mastery of filmmaking throughout Rear Window.
Acting: 9.7/10- James Stewart always gives an exceptional performance, and his work in Rear Window is no exception. Grace Kelly is beautifully superb in her role, and for the era, she is one of the best heroines in cinema, despite her smaller role.
Overall: 9.7/10- Overall, Rear Window is a masterpiece of cinema, the best work of the era, and an absolute must-watch for anyone that considers themselves a film fan.
Honorable Mentions: Charade, Laura, North by Northwest, Notorious, Vertigo,
Comic Book Romance: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Even though many superhero and comic book films have better romance in them, few actually focus on the romance itself more so than Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
Plot: 7.9/10- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World's plot plays out much like an old video game with Scott having to defeat Ramona's seven evil exes, which makes the plot somewhat simple, yet that is also the appeal. Plot points follow elements of video games and even anime to a lesser degree. While not as apparent to me as it was for others, there are some metaphors about dating, and it almost makes fun of it to a certain degree.
Special effects: 9.5/10- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is all about the insane visual style, and Edgar Wright's quick cuts work perfectly, and the use of on screen text and comic book like "Bang" and "Pow" visuals are often humorous and add to the video game/manga aesthetic.
Overall: 8.3/10- Overall, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a fun, stylistic, and insanely unique movie with a style all its own. While it has its flaws and does not always hit the mark, it is yet another stellar film by Edgar Wright that is great for those looking for something truly unique. (you can read the full review by clicking here)
Honorable Mentions: ?,
Sci-Fi Romance: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Even though there are better romances in the sci-fi genre, like Han and Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, no other sci-fi film focuses on relationships and romance more so than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Plot: 8.3/10- In terms of concept, Eternal Sunshine probably has the strongest and most unique concept of any film in the romance genre.
The best aspect of the film is easily the different direction it takes than most other films in the genre. However, the science fiction element that is introduced is not explained at all, and while that is not a big problem, the movie definitely had the clichéd indie feel when it comes to glossing over the details. Also, the movie's pacing could have been better. It dragged a bit with some side plots taking too much time. Despite having a very unique concept, some elements of the movie still fell into romance movie clichés with some overly sappy moments.
Characterization: 6.1/10- Even though the main character is fairly developed, you never care all that much for Joel, or his romantic interest, Clementine. All you really know about Clementine is that she is the exact opposite of the meek and timid protagonist. Her energetic character is appealing at times, but that is it.
Overall: 7.5/10- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is an incredibly unique take on the romance genre in concept, yet it still falls into a few of the genre's clichés. Despite these flaws, it is one of the better films the genre, thanks the concept and strong performances. (you can read the full review by clicking here)
Honorable Mentions: The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,
Overrated Romance: Titanic
As a bonus, let's talk about the most overrated romance film ever made, Titanic. Of course, this is my opinion, and if you like the film, that's fine (my mom likes it), but James Cameron stopped making quality movies when he made Titanic. It is just a giant cash cow with poorly developed characters, corny dialogue, and too many useless scenes. If Titanic won Best Picture for essentially making a ton of money, why wasn't Transformers won already!? (okay, that might an exaggeration).
Dishonorable Mentions: Annie Hall,
What are your favorite romance movies? What do you think of my picks? Please comment below and let me know.
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