Romance on the big screen has evolved over the decades but one thing's for sure—we just can't get enough of them.
Whether it's Rose "flying" with Jack at the edge of the Titanic or Mara dancing with Gali in Isa Pa with Feelings, there are films that hit us right to the core, so much so that they also influence how we perceive love.
As we celebrate Valentine's Day, the PhilSTAR L!fe team rounds up some of the best romantic films of all time for you to watch, cry to, and fall in love with over and over again.
I like my romance movies light, fluffy, and somewhat whimsical, so I would recommend the newly-released final installment in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before film trilogy. To All the Boys: Always and Forever follows Lana Jean (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo), just weeks following the events of the second movie. They're about to graduate from high school. Peter is accepted to Stanford University. Lata is hoping to be accepted too, so she can spend her college years with Peter (there's a cute daydream fantasy sequence, with Spice Girls’ "Wannabe" in the background, that tells us how Lara has already planned her whole life with her boyfriend). But the movie needs conflict so, of course, things don’t exactly go Lara’s way.
To All the Boys: Always and Forever is sweet and enjoyable enough, and it manages to depict how the romantic conflict of Lara and Peter with enough weight and self-awareness not to feel cloying. We know that young love should be the least of anyone’s worries during our youth, but we didn’t know that when we were younger.
The movie is also set in a world that seems to be unaffected by the pandemic (Lara’s acceptance letter is dated March 2021, but we see the characters having a school trip to New York without face masks). College rejections, the possibility of losing the person you think is the love of your life, the absence of face masks—To All the Boys: Always and Forever is both a romance and fantasy I wouldn’t mind watching on Valentine’s Day again. —Chuck Smith, Senior Writer
Sakaling Hindi Makarating stars Alessandra de Rossi as Cielo, a twenty-something artist who is nursing a broken heart from her fiancé. As she is on the brink of self-destruction, a series of hand-illustrated postcards from an anonymous sender start to arrive at her doorstep.
With the postcards as her guide, Cielo sets off on a journey across the Philippines—Zamboanga, Marinduque, Siquijor, Batanes, and Ilocos—to find the anonymous sender.
As Cielo embarked on a journey, it allowed her to find beyond what she was looking for—love for one’s self, the charm of adventure and spontaneity, and the beauty of relationships and connections that one can make along the way.
Sakaling Hindi Makarating shows that love is truly a beautiful thing, as it could sprout from the most crippling of heartaches to the most joyous of triumphs. —Pinky Icamen, Content Producer
I got a good laugh out of Me, Myself, and Irene (2000), which follows the story of a good cop who was tasked to protect a beautiful girl from her unscrupulous ex-boyfriend. As he develops feelings for her, he has to deal with his "advanced delusionary schizophrenia with involuntary narcissistic rage" that brings out another personality—his total opposite. The film is perfect for those who aren't into overly cheesy rom-coms like me! —Brooke Villanueva, Content Producer
A simple story of time-crossed lovers, the classic film The Lake House involves the characters Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) and Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves), who lived in separate points in time—Kate in 2006 and Alex in 2004. Through the magical mailbox of the titular house, both of them are able to communicate with each other and eventually fall in love. For me, the concept has lovely human simplicity and watching the story unravel never fails to reaffirm my faith in the power of written words to communicate on a deep and soulful level. —Red Dimaandal, Social Media Manager
When dreams are turning into reality, what are you willing to give up to fulfill the thing that you love doing? A Star is Born shows us the answers as it gives us the walk-through of the life of established country singer Jack Maine (Bradley Cooper) and rising star Ally (Lady Gaga) who's yet to find their place in the sky. Their love story begins with the heartthrob honing the budding artist's remarkable talent and self-sabotaging along the way.
More than the romance, this film addresses issues on substance abuse and fame. It gives its viewers the lens to what stardom can do to a person and how one can lose or gain it in a snap of a finger. It paints a picture of love that was beautiful but slowly deteriorates because of greed and jealousy, which is painful to see but can be taken as a lesson for anyone who wants to watch. This film shows that love can be ugly and selfish, although it came from genuine intentions and sincere exchanges. And when it's time to forgive, it might be over before you know it. —Danicah Lagman, Social Media Producer
When Harry Met Sally asks (and answers) the question that has been debated over centuries of mostly drunken copulation between friends: Can a man and woman be friends if they find each other attractive? Written by Nora Ephron, who won an Oscar for best screenplay, When Harry Met Sally is sweet, funny and acted superbly by a young Meg Ryan, Bill Crystal, and Carrie Fisher. The dialogues are witty, an Ephron signature in movies like Heartburn (based loosely on her marriage to Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein) and Sleepless in Seattle.
“All men are sure it never happened to them and all women at one time or other have done it, so you do the math,” Sally tells Harry on women faking orgasm. He wouldn’t believe her, so she did. In a restaurant. Surrounded by people. A woman at another table watching Sally (fake) orgasm says, “I’ll have what she’s having.” It’s a line ingrained in pop culture since the movie was released in 1989. (The woman, in fact, was director Rob Reiner’s mother.)
Another memorable moment is when Harry tells Sally about his recurring sex dream. “Had my dream again where I'm making love, and the Olympic judges are watching. I'd nailed the compulsories, so this is it, the finals. I got a 9.8 from the Canadians, a perfect 10 from the Americans, and my mother, disguised as an East German judge, gave me a 5.6. Must have been the dismount.”
They start off not liking each other, then they become best friends, then lovers (for a night), then frenemies, until they finally admit they love each other. Because, as Harry says, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.” —Tanya Lara, Features Head
Ang Lee has been known for many modern classics such as the sprawling wuxia film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the sensuous and beautiful espionage film Lust, Caution. But my favorite film of his is one of his more early works, namely Eat Drink Man Woman. The film is mainly about a family helmed by a father with four daughters who all need to grapple with important choices about love and career at some point in the story.
It is a relatively simple film but the tale is well-wrought and the characters well-drawn, making it easy to be invested in each of their affairs. It is also a lovely metaphor for the clash between tradition and modernity, family and self, love and career. What I also love about the film is its use of food as a plot tool, as the father is an acclaimed chef who prepares a glorious spread every Sunday.
Be prepared to be in love, with the story as well as with food. That opening scene of the father preparing a sumptuous meal for her daughters is just one of the most awesome food and hunger-inducing scenes in any movie. —Bim Santos, News Head
One of my favorite romance movies is Celeste and Jesse Forever. I’ve seen it several times and yet I still find myself crying every time I watch it. It’s unlike your typical love story as it shows the truths of divorce, friendship, and maturity. If you need a good cry, watch this heart-wrenching film. —Camille Santiago, Associate Editor
Before there was La La Land (2016) and The Greatest Showman (2017), many people have fallen in love with Baz Luhrmann's musical romance movie Moulin Rouge. It follows the story of a young writer named Christian (Ewan McGregor) who falls madly in love with Satine (Nicole Kidman), the most coveted courtesan of the cabaret Moulin Rouge in Paris, France. Together, they sing, dance, and cry as they fight for their ill-fated romance.
The whole two hours of it is packed with vibrant operatic performances that would certainly get you singing to the songs after watching it. Luckily, the 2001 film is still available for streaming on Netflix, so you can watch it in time for Valentine's Day or simply when you miss watching impactful theatrical plays. —Justine Punzalan, Associate Editor