Valentine’s Day 2016: 9 Love Stories That Won Best Picture
By Dr. Zaius
Sunday, February 14th, 2016 at 1:00 pm
With it being Valentine’s Day weekend, and all the buzz of the Oscars coming up later this month, it seemed like a perfect time for a COMBO LIST! When most think of Best Picture winners, you think sprawling historical epics like Gone With the Wind (1939), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) or Ben Hur (1959). War is a good place to find Oscar champions as well, such as Patton (1970), Schindler’s List (1993), and Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). But what about love? What about a sweeping romance? With that idea, I’ve scoured the 87 winners of the Best Picture Oscar and found the nine best love stories. Why nine? Because ten is what you were expecting, and with love being the theme, love should be unexpected and spontaneous… and also I could only really think of these 9. Any of these movies would be great to pop open a bottle of wine, dim the lights, and cuddle up with your significant other.
Check out the 9 choices below.
#9 – Titanic – Best Picture 1997
In full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of James Cameron turning one of history’s biggest (pun intended) disasters into a rags and riches love story, but the story of Jack and Rose is suitably epic. Leonardo DiCaprio became a megastar when he talks Kate Winslet out of suicide and into a whirlwind romance before the titular ship slams into an iceberg. For over 3-hours they share meals, exotic portraits, help each other escapee from psychotic rich people and eventually end up in the icy waters where… spoiler alert… she lets go.
Best Romantic Moment – The painting… you and your V-Day date can take turns nude modelling for each other.
#8 – Forrest Gump – Best Picture 1994
Like Titanic, Forrest Gump is not your prototypical love story. Robert Zemeckis‘s tale of a special needs boy who grows into a world changing man, connected with audiences on every level thanks to an Oscar winning performance from Tom Hanks and revolutionary special effects that put Hanks on screen with Kennedy, LBJ, and Nixon. But the thing that drove Forrest more than anything was his love of Jenny (Robin Wright). Jenny started as his childhood crush and became his friend, his “more than” friend, and the mother of his child.
Best Romantic Moment – Running into each others’ arms in the reflecting pool outside the Lincoln Memorial”¦ and forever making it okay to randomly yell “JENNY!” at the top of our lungs.
#7 – Slumdog Millionaire – Best Picture 2008
Danny Boyle’s fast paced and emotionally draining tale of Jamal Malik, a poor 18-year old from Mumbai who is one question away from winning the Indian version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He’s arrested because he is obviously cheating”¦ right? He is forced to explain, via his life story how he knew the answers to all the questions he got right so far. His life story, from harrowing childhood poverty was brutal, the only bright spot being Latika (as an adult, Freida Pinto), a girl he met at a young age and quickly fell in love with before she was ripped away.
Best Romantic Moment – The end credits Bollywood dance scene set to Oscar winning song Jai Ho.
#6 – Shakespeare in Love – Best Picture 1998
If you can excuse this movie for defeating Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture, it’s actually quite a great movie. Reason number one is the chemistry shown between its two leads, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jospeh Fiennes. He is Will Shakespeare with a severe case of writer’s block and she is Viola de Lesseps, the woman who becomes his muse after dressing as a man to gain a part in his play… it’s actually quite Shakespearean… oh…
Best Romantic Moment – Their love scene, one of the most visually striking ever put to film.
Shakespeare in Love (NSFW)
#5 – It Happened One Night – Best Picture 1934
The answer to the trivia question: What’s the first movie to sweep the Oscars? 1934’s It Happened One Night won for Picture, Director (Frank Capra), Actor (Clark Gable), Actress (Claudette Colbert), and Screenplay (Robert Riskin). Only two other movies have ever done it. It Happened One Night is one of the first true screwball comedies, a film that’s humor is timeless and it remains hilarious to this day. The romance that brews between newspaper writer Peter and runaway bride Ellie as they trek home, is full of quirks that would become cliches years later.
Best Romantic Moment – In a risque move for 1934, Colbert summons a hitchhiker by revealing her leg.
#4 – West Side Story – Best Picture 1961
West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet played out through rival NYC gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, and with some of the most memorable songs and choreography put to screen. The Sharks are the Puerto Ricans just want to live in America, but the Jets have other ideas. When Tony (Richard Beymer), a Jet, meets the sister of the Sharks leader, Maria (Natalie Wood) at a dance, nothing can stop them from falling in love, but everything will work to keep them apart.
Best Romantic Moment – “Maria, I once met a girl named Maria.” The scenes of the star crossed lovers meeting on the fire escape is also a classic.
#3 – Rocky – Best Picture 1976
Rocky is often considered a “sports movie” or even more narrowly, “a boxing movie.” Sure, the sequels devolved into boxing movies, but the original underdog classic is a pure love story. Despite the training montages, and the epic battle versus Apollo, at its core Rocky is about Rocky and Adrian. Stallone was perfect as he romances the shy and damaged Talia Shire, flirting with her by discussing turtles in the pet store she works in. Their first date is one of my favorite romantic scenes ever leading up their first kiss in Rocky’s apt. Everything that comes after, from titles to Mr. T, to Drago and beyond; the Rocky series always comes back to Rocky and Adrian.
Best Romantic Moment – In Rocky’s apartment before their kiss is hot as hell, but c’mon is anything more romantic than fighting for the Heavyweight Title and rather than caring about the decision, just wanting and screaming for your girl… ADRIAN!!!
#2 – The Silence of the Lambs – Best Picture 1991
Huh? What?! Romance? No one said romance has to be traditional. Being a horror super geek, I couldn’t resist putting this on the list and ranking pretty high. The love story in question: the forbidden love of cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) and FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster). Many have tried getting through to Lecter before. With Buffalo Bill out there skinning chubby girls to make himself a human cocoon, Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn) sends Clarice to interview Lecter. Lecter is taken with her immediately, recognizing her perfume, and quickly their quid pro quo leads to the sharing of some of her most intimate moments. When another inmate is “rude” to her, Lecter comes to her defense with information to help her case. In case you think I’m crazy off here, author of the books Thomas Harris had Lecter save Clarice in the sequel Hannibal and they end up in a romantic relationship”¦ not shown in the film sequel.
In a crazy coincidence, TSOTL came out 25-years ago TODAY… so obviously they were attracting the romantic crowd!
Best Romantic Moment – When Lecter is caged up, one of his drawings is Clarice, but more so when she charges the cage for one last clue in catching Bill, Lecter brushes her hand; their only physical interaction in the film.
#1 – Casablanca – Best Picture 1943
Maybe the greatest film ever made, Casablanca created all the cliches and is the greatest romantic film ever. Rick (Humphrey Bogart) is owner of the Moroccan cafe/casino serving a clientele desperate to get to America and away from the growing Nazi sphere of influence. Rick is sour and cold; “I stick my neck out for nobody” is his go to expression. But when Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) steps into Rick’s and back into his life, things go haywire. She’s the wife of Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) who has escaped Nazi camps time and time again and is now one step away from a flight to America. That step, getting travel papers possessed by Rick. Ilsa does what she has to do to try to get the letters from Rick. We find out that they had a whirlwind affair in Paris years earlier before she left him at the last minute. Too many quotable lines, too many classic scenes, and a love triangle where it all makes sense. Simply put: the best love story of all time.
Best Romantic Moment – Uhhh too many… As Sam plays “As Time Goes By” and Rick and Ilsa’s eyes meet for the first time… Perfection
What makes a movie romantic differs from couple to couple. Many might love the adventures of Jack and Rose escaping the icy waters in Titanic, while others might appreciate being scared closer to their significant other with Clarice and Dr. Lecter. And if you’re looking forward to this year’s Oscars nominees… as far as romance goes, your best bet is probably Brooklyn. Brooklyn is about an Irish immigrant, Eiliss (Saoirse Ronan) who meets a nice Italian boy Tony (Emory Cohen). It’s an adorable little movie. For a more unconventional movie about love, Room shows the unflinching love between mother and child albeit in a brutal way. But hey, whatever floats your boat.
Happy Valentine’s Day 2016!
The 88th Annual Academy Awards are Sunday, February 28th at 8:30pm ET on ABC.