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shakespeareinlovepicIC.jpgWhen the movie theaters fail to live up to your romantic aspirations and sensibilities (though I have hope for the upcoming releases of Priceless starring Audrey Tautou, and Sex & the City, of course), there are always the time-tested, tried and true, favorites on DVD to make you sigh, believe in love again, and all that good stuff. Some tickle the funny bone, some are sure to make you weep, some are old, some are new, and some are cheesy, but they are wonderful all the same. Here are my top ten:
1. Pride & Prejudice. I feel guilty of betraying the beloved BBC Colin Firth six-hour Jane Austen P&P fest, but here I speak of the Keira Knightly, Matthew Macfadyen 2005 version of this ultimate romantic classic (though I own and love both). Sure it’s cliche that this is my #1, but can you think of a better romantic film than either version of this story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy? I didn’t think so. Aside from rereading the novel for the 100th time, this film never fails to make my heart go pitter patter.
2. Shakespeare in Love. Imagining what, or rather, who inspires Will Shakespeare to write Romeo and Juliet is not only wildly romantic and a wonderful idea, but throw in Joe Fiennes as the young playwright, and Gwyneth Paltrow as his muse and audiences are sure to swoon. To watch Will play the part of Romeo and Viola play Juliet after watching them fall in love on screen gives new meaning to the play itself. Be sure to have Kleenex nearby for this one. Sigh.
3. Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate). Tita’s cooking abilities come from the depths of her soul and reach out to nourish the heart more than the body. When she loses the love of her life, Pedro, to her sister’s marriage bed, Tita pours all her emotions into her famous dishes, which affect everyone that tastes them (literally). So many filmmakers have tried to marry love and food, but none so successfully and magically as this classic.


4. You’ve Got Mail. Putting Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks together on screen is a sure thing, then add Nora Ephron’s wit and writing and you’ve got a winner. I never tire of watching the now quaint fax-like sound of Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox connecting to the Internet, hoping for mail from each other. This bookstore enemies-turned lovers fairytale never disappoints.
5. Strictly Ballroom. With all the dance reality shows on television, not to mention the dance-related films coming out, this Australian flick about the wallflower girl who transforms into the beautiful, graceful dancer and ends up charming the sweet, sexy hero, “Strictly Ballroom” is a must see. Not only is it romantic, but it’s absolutely hilarious. It laughs at itself and its subject matter in a Christopher Guest-like way, but still manages to be touching and sweet at the same time. (I decided to pick only one dance movie for the list–but don’t worry, I didn’t forget about “Dirty Dancing” and “Shall We Dance“–the original Japanese version not the J-Lo/Richard Gere disaster remake. They were top contenders.)
6. The Princess Bride. I remember going to see this movie on a first date during high school. Needless to say it turned out to be a perfect first date film. Only a hard-hearted person without a shred of a sense of humor could not fall in love with this swash-buckling, tongue-and-cheek fairytale, starring the Cliffs of Insanity, Rodents of Unusual Size, and a cast that includes giants, little people, and the likes of Mandy Patinkin and Christopher Guest, plus the happiest of endings.
7. Footloose. Okay, so I had to include another dance movie, but this one is from the eighties, stars Kevin Bacon, has one of the best soundtracks ever (by Kenny Loggins, no less), and features our hero falling in love and risking everything for the preacher’s daughter. It had to make the list.
8. Bend it Like Beckham. Beautiful Indian soccer-playing girl meets hot, British soccer-coach guy played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers; cultures clash, women’s soccer matches ensue, love blossoms, etc., etc. One of my favorite feel good romances ever. It always leaves me happy and hopeful. Not to mention sighing about the good ole days when Jonathan Rhys Meyers played sweetheart romantic leads and not scary psycho-killlers and evil nasty kings.
9. Becoming Jane. I had to include another Jane Austen-related flick, and I just watched this one for the second time since it came out this month on DVD. This is the Jane Austen version of “Shakespeare in Love” since it imagines what “real life” love story might have inspired the famous Ms. Austen who never married to write one of the most beloved romance novels of all time, “Pride & Prejudice.” Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy are wonderful as Jane Austen and Tom LeFroy, the man she falls in love with but can’t have. This one is another tear-jerker so make sure to have the tissues ready.
10. The Cutting Edge. I’ve been watching (and re-watching) this movie since, I don’t know, college? It’s always on the family channels and I can’t seem to tear myself away if I happen upon it. The plot is simple: bratty rich figure scater meets (and skates with) chip-on-his-shoulder hockey player. They clash, sparks (and ice) fly, they go for Olympic gold, fall in love. Say cheese! But it’s such fun. I couldn’t help myself.
So that’s all for now. I know I left many classics and wonderful films off this list, but these are the 10 films that have warmed my heart of late, when the movie theaters have left it rather cold (save Miss Pettigrew). What films would you add to this list?

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