The Most Moving Romantic Movies

romantic movies
A still from “Casablanca”

Romance. Why is it the most popular genre of films? Romance is universal, and anyone who says that romantic movies are for women alone, needs to get his head and heart examined. We all love romantic movies. In fact, it is the default genre that we fall back on when we have spent ourselves trying to find something to watch on Netflix.

You hunt for love on screen because you know just can’t go wrong with it. The film pool is huge, going from pure romance, to romantic comedies, musicals and even tragedies. We have here a list of some of the best romantic movies ever made and have purposely left out romantic comedies from this list. That needs a separate list all together, which most will agree.

Romantic movies are often ignorantly labeled as chick flicks. It’s like saying Scotch is for men. All humbug. If you are a man, perhaps you wouldn’t want being caught watching a romantic film, but your solitary movie watch history may tell another story. What is not to like about comfortably curling up in your couch and watching a movie about two people brought together by circumstances, falling in love, facing challenges and overcoming them to give you a perfect ending.

Love Story

More than 50 years later you still remember the famous lines from the movie: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” The 1970 film was the story of about a boy and a girl from different backgrounds who fall in love regardless of their upbringing. It is about a rich athlete who falls in love with a working-class college student, and gives up everything to be with her. “Love Story” still continues to be a popular romantic movie, even after 50 years. The film starred Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal and portrayed one of the best relationships on screen. It is a sweet film and will definitely appeal to those who have love in their heart and romance in their bones.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Imagine having your love letters, or emails in the online world, being somehow leaked. It will probably be the same as getting naked in Times Square, with no clothes on. “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” is a teen romance directed by Susan Johnson and written by Sofia Alvarez. This 2018 Netflix original was the first of three in the series, the latest being “To All The Boys: Always and Forever,” released this year. The movie is an adaptation of Jenny Han’s popular novels about a shy teen who writes a love letter to each of her past crushes. They’re never meant to be sent but her mischievous little sister mails them out. Even though it may seem like a fluffy teen film, the film throws up nostalgia relatable to everyone. With an Asian-American lead, the film is one of the most romantic ones in recent times. It has received rave reviews from audiences and critics alike and is a joy to watch with its brilliant writing and acting.

La La Land

The movie was the pick of crop at the Oscars the following year, bagging six awards that night, including for best director and best actress in a leading role. The film, directed by Damian Chazelle, is a romantic musical about love. The story of the film revolves around an aspiring actress and an upcoming jazz musician who, while navigating their careers in Los Angeles, fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future. The cast includes Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. “La La Land” takes you back to the way films were made in the 40s and 50s. The film is both nostalgic as well as an example of a modern and glamorized Hollywood romance.

Casablanca

“Here’s looking at you, kid.” There are so many lines from this classic Hollywood film that make this 1942 film an absolute must-watch for all generations. “Casablanca” ranks as one of the greatest films in history, with the famous pairing of Bogey and Bergman. The film is set in World War II, with Humphrey Bogart playing American expat Rick Blaine, who owns a nightclub in Casablanca frequented by everyone from German officials to refugees trying to escape to America. One night, his former lover Ilsa appears with her husband, a fugitive Czech Resistance leader. They need of transit letters that allows them safe passage through Germany, which Rick has. Rick must overcome the dilemma between winning back his lover or helping her escape with her husband. “Casablanca” is one of the very few films that have defied time and still lives up to its hype of being the world’s favorite love story. A timeless classic, it is one of the best romantic movies ever.

The Notebook

The film is an adaptation of the master of romance in print – Nicholas Sparks. Though almost a dozen films that have been based on his novels, “The Notebook” remains the most iconic. It may have something to do with the electric chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling, who play the lead roles. The story pivots on the quintessential romance premise, that of a rich girl falling in love with a working class guy, facing and overcoming challenges, like disapproving parents or even World War II. The film was released in 2004 and was directed by Nick Cassavetes, who went on to direct “My Sister’s Keeper.” This is a romantic movie you will want to keep watching because it looks so pretty. “The Notebook” is also a perfect date night movie, with some touching romantic stuff going down.

Titanic

James Cameron, the director who gave us action adventures such as “Terminator” and “Alien,” brought this tearjerker love story that uses a sinking ship as the backdrop of an epic romance. “Titanic,” released in 1997, was the biggest hit of not just that year but was the most successful film of all time. It won – hold your breath – 11 Academy Awards, the most for any movie other than “Ben-Hur” at the time. The story if the film is about Jack and Rose, two people from very different social strata who fall in love aboard the doomed RMS Titanic. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet starred in this film, one the most expensive ones ever made. It had everything going for it – a great cast, great production values, and great special effects that sweep you away.

Pretty Woman

The film that catapulted Julia Roberts into the big league. It is the film that turned her into the first preference for most romantic films. It was a role where she wasn’t even the first choice. The film is about an L.A. prostitute who gets hired by a New York corporate suit to be his girlfriend during his business trip. As she changes her façade from that of an escort to an elegant society girl, the playboy tycoon begins to fall in love with her. “Pretty Woman,” released in 1990, is directed by Garry Marshall, a master of romantic film direction. The lead pair of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, along with a superb soundtrack, makes this movie a must-watch.

Roman Holiday

This is one of the most enjoyable romantic movies ever made. The lead cast of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck is magical. The story is about a young princess who, fed up with her responsibilities, decides to live like a civilian for a day in Rome. During her escape from boredom and a sheltered life, she she falls in love with an American newsman in Rome. The captivating tale of romance is shot entirely in Rome. Hepburn and Peck are just magic together in this delightful movie, one of the most enjoyable romantic films ever made. Hepburn won an Oscar for Best Actress and the film received rave reviews for her portrayal of a jaded princess who has a fling.

Dirty Dancing

This is the coming of age story of a girl named Baby who meets and falls in love with a handsome dance instructor at the Catskills resort she is visiting with her family. The two young lovers, dodging disapproving parents, are drawn closer to each other by their love of dance. This 80s hit had Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead, and made the dance sequences unforgettable. The soundtrack includes songs that can be on any Greatest Love Songs playlist. These included “I’ve Had The Time Of My Life,” “She’s Like the Wind” and “Hungry Eyes.”

West Side Story

This one is not the 1961 romantic musical that we all remember. This one is the latest remake, and the film is directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg. Released in December, it is Spielberg’s take on the 1957 Broadway musical. The story, loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” stars Ansel Elgort and Rachel Zegler, David Alvarez, Corey Stoll, and Rita Moreno, who also appeared in the 1961 original. The film was originally to be released in 2020, but had to be shifted to the end of 2021 due to the pandemic. The screenplay is supposedly closer to the Broadway script of “West Side Story” than the 1961 film. The story revolves around teenagers Tony and María who, despite their affiliations with the Jets and the Sharks, rival street gangs, fall in love in 1950s New York City. The 1961 version still make it to the list of the best romantic movies; the 2021 version, with Speilberg’s touch, could boost its romantic credentials.

In these times of uncertainty and seclusion, we all need the feel-good factor. What better way to do it than to watch these romantic tales, the best on film, with our loved ones.

If you’re not into mushy stuff, then maybe our picks for Some of the Best Romantic Comedies from the February Issue might be more your speed!